My six and a half week study abroad trip in Rome, Italy has come to an end. It all flew by! I walk away with a profound respect for Roman culture and traditions and a myriad of experiences that I will cherish for the rest of my life. Living in Rome for over a month has given me unique insights on what the every day life of a modern Roman consists of. There are five things that define the city and its people.
1. Nasoni – Fountains that kept us alive during blistering hot days, whose name means “big nose”. The cool drinking water that flows through them runs constantly and is recycled in Rome’s gardens and markets. users can cover the main opening causing an upward, parabolic stream of water to jet out from the small hole located on the top of the horizontal section of the spout. There are 2500 of them scattered throughout the historic city. The initials “S.P.Q.R” are inscribed on each nasoni which represent the Latin phrase, Senatus Populus Que Romanus (The Senate and the People of Rome). This a reference to the Roman Republic.
2. Bars – Not a reference to night life, but rather a source of mornings filled with delicious croissants, cappuccinos, and espresso shots. I got used to life of quality, inexpensive breakfasts and interactions with locals who run these places. There’s a reason that Starbucks does not exist in Rome.
3. Art and Architecture – You always here about how astounding the Roman monuments, sculptures, and paintings are and how this aspect of the culture paved the way for modern art. Witnessing it first hand however, is an experience that will make you question how this was even feasible centuries ago. During my stay, I gained an appreciation for the time taken to complete these works and their ever-lasting impact and presence on modern day Roman life.
4. Gelato – I don’t know if I had consecutive days without a cup or cone of gelato. I wouldn’t have it any other way. The number diversity of gelato flavors and places in Rome are noteworthy. We found ourselves making lists of our favorite gelaterias (check out Vanessa’s post about it) with no real consensus on a definitive best. There are a lot of different aspects that must be considered: number of flavors, quality of gelato, price, proximity, etc. My two personal favorites were Frigidarium (shout-out to their amazing chocolate dipped cups) and Old Bridge (huge chunks of chocolate chips in their Stracciatella flavor).
5. Aperitivo – Purchase one drink and get access to a buffet-style meal with numerous dishes of food to choose from. Talk about the most bang for your buck! Pasta, pizza, suppli, salads, cheese – you name it. Every bar provides different dishes. While this originated in northern Italy, it quickly picked up popularity and made its way down to Rome. It become customary for a group of 8 – 12 of us to head out to an aperitivo at least twice a week. It was a perfect way to unwind and try various dishes of the world-renowned Italian cuisine.
Studying abroad opened my eyes to the difference of American and Italian culture. It has made me more well-rounded and aware. The best part about it was getting to discovering these wonders alongside 41 other talented, and heart-driven Viterbi students. We won’t be able to recreate that aspect of the experience for the rest of our lives, making all of this that much more special.