During my study abroad experience, the excitement of exploring foreign lands often overshadowed the potential for finding wonder in the beauty of my host country, Italy. However, I consciously decided to dedicate a weekend solely to solo exploration, a decision that would later prove to be the highlight of my time abroad.
My adventure commenced with a visit to the Vatican Museum, despite my inclination towards not being a fervent museum enthusiast. To my surprise, I found myself utterly captivated for three hours, with particular highlights being the Gallery of Geographic Maps by Ignazio Danti and, of course, the awe-inspiring Sistine Chapel. The experience was nothing short of breathtaking.
Continuing my journey, I strolled over to the lively Spanish Steps, where people sat, took pictures, and enjoyed the vibrant atmosphere. Inside the Church of Santissima Trinità dei Monti, I marveled at its beauty, peacefully reflecting alongside fellow visitors and soaking in the architectural wonders.
Hopping on the metro, I made my way to the Colosseum and Roman Forum. As I wandered around the Colosseum, I couldn't help but be in awe each time I passed by. Taking a break, I savored a sandwich, observing families and tourists capturing moments. Moving on to the Roman Forum, I stumbled upon a crowd gathered around a street artist playing music and creating spray-painting masterpieces. The level of detail and the artist's skill were truly incredible.
The highlight of my day unfolded as I encountered a small band playing music, creating an infectious atmosphere. The singer invited people to join in the middle, and as they played "Here Comes the Sun," it was a moment of spontaneous joy, with strangers coming together to sing and dance. After this magical experience, I treated myself to a delicious carbonara at a nearby eatery, capping off a special day in a city that had already changed my life.
Another unforgettable moment was securing seats up close for the Papal Audience. Thanks to a friend interning at the Vatican, we obtained tickets to sit on the stage and witness the Pope up close. Serendipitously, I ran into my Italian professor, who volunteered helpful advice on where to capture the best picture of the Pope. The experience was overwhelming and humbling, something I never imagined I would have the opportunity to do. I express immense gratitude to Rome for providing such unique and close encounters. If you ever find yourself in Rome, I highly recommend attending a Papal Audience if given the chance—it's an experience like no other.
In conclusion, this dedicated weekend of solo exploration allowed me to discover hidden gems within Rome and create memories that will stay with me forever. It served as a reminder of the importance of slowing down, taking in the surroundings, and appreciating the beauty that can be found within the familiar. As I prepare to return home, these weekends stand out as pivotal moments that altered my perception and the unexpected joys that come from immersing oneself in a new culture.
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Hello! I'm Emilie, a junior at Villanova, passionate about beauty, fashion, adventures, and meeting new people. Fun fact: I studied abroad and lived in London for high school. Can't wait to explore Rome and indulge in the finest gelato!