I will never get used to saying goodbye to these sublime cities. They tease me, drawing me into their splendor, seducing me to come back. Yet each one has her own unique character, and Rome has been quite the temptress. I was resistant to accept her charm at first, coming from the lovely Paris, but it wasn’t long before her authentic ancient earth and vibrant energy snuck into my heart. Who else could have a sanctuary for cats literally on the remains of temples from the fourth century BC? How brilliant of an idea to have virtual reconstructions projected onto the ruins of the Forum of Caesar to display what life used to be like in that very spot. And let’s talk about granita for a second— when that sour lemon slush hits your throat after walking miles under the hot sun, you’ll want to climb inside the machine and never come out.
On our first Saturday in Rome, we accidentally ran into the Roma Gay Pride celebration. We accidentally turned a corner and ran into a mass of crazy weirdos dressed in outrageous costumes, dancing to rave music— and I felt Rome’s spirit. We wandered over to Palatine Hill as the sun was setting and watched a couple of teenagers sitting in the tall grass among the ruins, looking out over the city. This was life. This was the universal thread of living we all know, no matter what country. I couldn’t help feeling connected. The next day, we took a trip to Pompeii and absorbed the ancient whispers of the fallen town (and the sun).
Of course, nothing compares to the food in Italy. It’s not just the taste— though the taste is a sensational journey unlike any other. It’s the experience of food, the way people treat food. We took a cooking class in the home of one of the program hosts, and we learned that no Italian is shy about food. We dug our hands into the dough and got messy— and it turned out delicious. The other night, we had a four-course meal at a trattoria with students in a different program. It’s unreal how easy it is to bond over good food.
For our last Sunday in Rome, we took a trip to Florence, and everything about it was straight out of Hollywood. Our train passed through Tuscany like a dream, rolling past shimmering fields of gold and sheep being herded along green pastures. The bistro we went to cooked us our gourmet ricotta gnocchis and sundried tomatoes before our eyes, pairing it with a local white wine. The beautiful waiters treated us like goddesses, begging us to stay forever (tempting). From the San Miniato church at the top of the hill, the city looked like the paradise in postcards.
And I will never cease to appreciate all of the amazing things this program has prepared for us. First of all, let’s talk about our housing. When we stepped into the old-fashioned lift up to our apartment, I knew I was in for something special. I didn’t expect a gigantic three-bedroom beautifully classic abode with plenty of space to take in the beauty of Rome in comfort. We have also been privileged to live with a “student companion,” who has been every kind of support we need here (as well as a lot of fun). And the kinds of excursions we have had are unbelieveable. Never in my life would I have imagined standing in the restoration labs of the Vatican, face-to-face with ancient artwork and its caretakers.
So yet again, I have become quickly attached to a city that I have to leave after only two short weeks. Tomorrow we are off to Madrid, our final destination. Soon this will all be over, and I’ll be wondering if any of it ever happened. But the memories will be too strong to deny. Roma, Firenze— keep my heart. It’s yours.
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<p>Hello! My name is Kyra, and I'm a Writing Major at Ithaca College. I am more than ready to fall in love with these beautiful European cities - Paris, Rome, and Madrid - this summer, and I hope that my blogs will let you fall in love alongside me. Get ready to be tested, as there will be many challenges to overcome on our journey together. Hang on tight, and enjoy the ride.</p>