By Andrea Arredondo

The first weekend of the program, Professor Looby organized a class trip to Rome. Although it might sound like a lot to take a group of 25 college students to a different city for a few days, the professor really did an outstanding job helping to create the mini-trip. It might not have been incredibly long, but the itinerary was full of things to do and places to see.

The first Friday of the program, we were instructed to meet at the Santa Maria Novella train station in Florence around 7:30am to depart to Rome. As soon as we arrived in Rome, 25 college students looked around the Roma Termini train station. Early morning and bushy eyed, I was excited to see what this ancient city had in store. Would this city be anything like Florence?

Shades on and soaked in sunscreen, I hoisted my backpack over my shoulder and waited for the group’s tour guide to find us. Eventually we spotted her and she informed us that we would be taking a walking tour of the city. Walking out of the train station in Rome is a completely different experience than going through Union Station or Grand Central Station. Stores line the walls and people rush to their work, homes, or airport. Nonetheless, we eventually we made it out and started our walk.

Rome is very different from Florence. The streets are wider, there are more cars, and I could not shake the feeling that the air felt more hectic. There are street vendors everywhere and uniquely, there were Roman statues on top of pillars throughout the city. Along the way we stopped by a church and went inside. Churches in Italy are incredibly beautiful. They have ancient designs and paintings that can be traced back to centuries ago.

After our walk around the city, we decided to check into our hotel and leave our bags. After a few minutes of relaxation and freshening up, we all meet back in the lobby to go out for lunch. Lunch was a delicious three course meal with classic Italian dishes. After lunch we had free time to explore some more. I decided that I wanted to use this time to meet other students and see some ancient ruins.

Rome really has a lot to offer. Sometimes, you just need to be willing to walk… a lot. I realized this the moment when the class met up to walk to the Vatican. One hour of walking later, we arrived at the Vatican where I was happy to learn that we would not have to wait outside for hours. TIP: always make reservations when you’re crunched for time—especially for popular tourist sites. The Vatican was incredible and I was lucky to get to see the Sistine Chapel. After the four-hour long tour, I was happy to splurge on a taxi back—beware that Ubers are illegal in Rome.

While the trip was only two days, a few girls and myself decided to extend our trip by one more day. During that extra day in Rome, we mainly relaxed and ate at restaurants in the city. Of note, we were able to eat at Felice a Testaccio, the rumored birth place of cacio e pepe. Unfortunately, it rained for most of that extra day, but we had a great time anyway.

Would it rain the next time I returned to Rome? Read to find out!

Andrea Arredondo studied abroad in Florence in Summer 2019.