Everyday on my way to class I would walk past towering churches and rich archaeological sites. Rome is a mix of art styles each more impressive than the last and this is one of the many reasons it is called the Eternal City. If you want to travel somewhere with high nightlife then Rome is not for you. Rome has a relaxed culture where hours are spent around the dinner table chatting with your friends. Rome has the perfect cappuccino in the morning with a cornetto on the side. Rome is filled with ancient cultural history that cannot be found anywhere else in the world.
The Rome Open Campus Program gave me so many opportunities I never would have gotten with another program. First, I took many art history courses and we had classes on site almost every class day. It’s one thing to learn from a powerpoint screen and another to have your lecture in St. Peter’s Basilica next to the artwork you are learning about. So many overlooked gems of Rome were discovered through these types of classes. The Villa Farnesina is full of mythological frescoes by Raphael, but is not somewhere most tourists would visit since they are focused on the Colosseum or the Trevi Fountain. Those places are great, but Rome has so much more to offer that can be discovered if you have the time.
Rome doesn’t just have amazing art it also has amazing food! Pasta, pizza, gelato! There are great places to eat around every hidden corner. Even the touristy areas have decent food, although I would recommend trying to find a restaurant that also serves locales for more authentic Italian cuisine. Rome has a few unique items Cacio e Pepe, Carbonara and Amatriciana are some staple pastas that should definitely be tried while in Rome! Margherita pizza is the traditional style, but any pizza that I have tried has been delicious. The Global Institute in Rome is located near the Jewish Ghetto meaning that mouth watering fried artichokes are just across the river. Of course, Rome is filled with gelato shops, but not all of them are good. My favorites are Otaleg, Neve di Latte (try the flavor Neve di Latte while you’re here), Gutilla, and Come il Latte.
The study tours for Rome are a perfect way to see more of Italy. My study tours were to Milan and Florence. Both of these trips provided by CIEE, were a great way to connect with my fellow students as we wandered around the leather markets in Florence up to Piazzale Michelangelo for a breathtaking view of the city. In Milan we took a day trip to Lago Maggiore next to the Alps. The air was so fresh and the city was filled with blooming flowers that contrasting the blue waters.
Everyone has a different thing they are looking for when they travel abroad and it can be hard to choose a destination, but I recommend Rome for any length of time because it always has more to offer. Italians may always be late, or scary drivers, but they are also friendly and willing to listen to you stumble through broken Italian while ordering gelato for the fourth time that week. If anyone asked me whether they should travel to Rome my answer would be, yes, a million times, yes!