We arrived in Rome four days ago and have been super busy! We kicked off our time in Italy with a visit to Pompeii, the ancient roman city that was buried under the explosion of a nearby volcano almost 2000 years ago. We got to walk around the old ruins, amazingly preserved by the volcano ash.
Many of us had our first real Italian pizza at lunch and we celebrated my 16th birthday at the restaurant as well.
The ruins were amazing, and we could even see indents in the road where people once rolled their carts, and ancient apartments and bath houses. It was very hot out, so by the end of the day we were all exhausted, but it was definitely worth it!
On Saturday, we went to the Capitoline Museum in the morning and after lunch and free time, we got to see the Coliseum! We learned about the gladiator and sea battles of Ancient Rome, the times when the space was later used as artists’ workshops and churches, what people from different classes might have been doing in the Coliseum and where they were sitting, and when and why the whole thing was built. That night, we had our first stipend dinner, meaning each student got 10 euros, and in small groups, we went out to dinner within a certain part of the city before meeting back up to head back to the hotel. Because we had so much time after dinner, some people from my group and I went down to the shops along the river we ate near, and we got popcorn and played carnival games. As a whole, it was one of my favorite days so far on the trip!
Today, we went to the Borghese Gallery in the morning, which was one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. It was an art museum, of course, but the building itself was almost a piece of art as well. We had a couple hours to walk around the museum, and then we had free time in the surrounding park, where we went to sandwich stands for lunch and rented bikes and segways, walked around the park taking pictures, or sat in the shade reading or talking. The park itself was very beautiful, and there were several bronze and marble statues and fountains scattered amongst the trees and flowers. After the park, we went to go see the bone church, a church in which many, many skeletons were kept and then eventually put on the walls, ceilings, and other places for display in patterns to decorate. The church itself was very eerie, but it was definitely very cool to see.
Finally, we went to the ancient roman forum, where we got to learn a bit more about daily life in Ancient Rome. We had a group dinner at a locally owned restaurant and then had gelato before coming back to the hotel. Everyone was exhausted after the long day we had today, so I’m sure we will all sleep well tonight, and tomorrow we will get to see the Pantheon!