I knew I’d be busy while studying abroad, but I had no idea exactly HOW busy I’d be! Since leaving home, I’ve visited 10 countries (okay, I cheated and traveled around before the semester started) and have been in a new city almost every weekend! The four-five days that I’m “home” in Milan are spent catching up with family and friends, doing laundry, attending classes, and soaking up every last bit of Milan that I can.
My most recent trip was with a friend to Rome. This came after a frenzied ten day trip to Barcelona, Madrid, Dublin, and London…so we were feeling pretty exhausted at this point. However, our exhaustion in no way stopped us from exploring this magnificent city! We were there for four days and I wish we’d had longer.
To begin, I must say that this trip was especially great because we’ve already become familiar with the Italian culture. We knew how to communicate and what to expect from the people there. In addition to this, we got to really capitalize on the fact that this was a “vacation” and enjoy all of the things that we usually bypass in Milan in an attempt to save money for our trips. We had full meals (primi AND secondi), large gelatos in waffle cones (from Fassi’s, the first gelato store in Rome that was built in 1880!), and even better — it was all cheaper in Rome than what we’re used to in Milan! It was wonderful to immerse ourselves in Italy without worrying (as much) about how much we were spending.
Now, we did do a few things besides eat our hearts out…although I’m sad to say that no vespa rides were included.
We started off our first full day with a trip to the Vatican City. We walked there from our hostel, which we later found out was a 5 mile walk. It didn’t seem nearly as long, though, as each beautiful, winding street held a new surprise. Throw in some gelato and the 5 mile walk might as well have been 5 minutes. The Vatican was amazing, and it was surreal to be there.
Our second day was spent in three ways — seeing the Colosseum, visiting the Capuchin Crypt, and registering for classes…oh, the life of a study abroad student. The Colosseum was amazing (as was to be expected), registering for classes mediocre (also, an expected outcome), and the Capuchin Crypt absolutely blew me away! It was perfectly beautiful and creepy…horrifying and incredible.
Our final half day was spent walking through the Roman Forum, which was truly remarkable. It’s crazy to walk through the old ruins and to think of how many people have been in the same place as you. A quote we read in the Capuchin Crypt kept repeating in my head — “What you are now we used to be; what we are now you will be.” I got chills thinking about how this was once a bustling city that is so different than what we are used to today.
All in all, Rome blew me away. On top of all of the sight-seeing, it was much more “typically Italian” looking than Milan. However, at the end of the day, I’m so happy that I’m studying in Milan. Arriving back “home” to the streets around the Duomo that are filled with trendy people bustling around made me realize how much I appreciate this city…serving as a perfect reminder to make me treasure every moment here.