Reflections on Rome- by Guest Blogger Abby A. (Session 1)

Programs for this blog post

Connecting Italian Art, History & Culture

Authored By:

Alexis Savas

The last few weeks spent in Rome have been an incredible experience. It has been an informative, exhilarating, unforgettable, and simply put: an adventurous ride. Throughout the trip we visited countless museums, fountains, gardens, and churches all filled with some of the most renowned art in the world. We also participated in a multitude of workshops to explore different areas of art. During tours and workshops we always had guides and instructors who were experts on the subject matter and were able to delve deep to help everyone truly learn and understand the material they were teaching. The trip was filled to the brim going from activity to activity, and while it was fun as a whole, there are certain highlights that made the trip for me. 

The beginning of the trip was an adjustment for everyone. Bonding with roommates, making new friends, and recovering from jet lag in a foreign place with a group of people we didn’t know was a large task. With icebreakers, meals, exploration, and time in the Study Center, we all found our people and were so excited and prepared for what was to come.

The first week we visited popular landmarks such as the Trevi Fountain, Colosseum, the Pantheon, Piazza Venezia, and Piazza Navona. Everyone in the group would agree that Colosseum day was pretty rough; the heat, walking, and crowds inside made for a pretty cranky group. However, after we left the Colosseum to go to the Forum there was a change. The views, history, gardens, and ancient buildings intrigued everyone and it was such an amazing place to explore. The other visits we did were church visits including the Church of the Gesú, the Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere, and the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore. My personal favorite week one church visit was the Church of the Gesú. Everyday at 5:30 p.m. an event takes place where an altarpiece is lowered to reveal a silver statue depicting the apotheosis of Saint Ignatius. It was such a simple act that elevated the church to something more special and unique. 

Week two was a long week, filled with so much that it's hard to choose a favorite moment. The week started off strong with our day trip to Tivoli. From an outside glance it looked like a simple mountain town, but after passing through the doors of the Villa d’Este there was a beautiful garden that truly makes Tivoli stand out. My friends and I took this garden as an opportunity to break out our fun floral summer dresses. The weather, sun, outfits, nature, and fountains made it feel so magical and like we were in a movie. My other favorite part of week two was the overnight trip to Florence. We took a two hour train ride with amazing views and visited the Uffizi Gallery later that day. The Uffizi Gallery is home to so many precious works of art including the Birth of Venus and Primavera by Botticelli. My favorite part of the Uffizi would have to be all of the statues out front. After dinner we were walking back to the hotel when we walked through Piazza della Repubblica there was a man performing “Don’t Worry Be Happy” and a group dancing around. All of us went in the circle and danced with a bunch of strangers and it was definitely one of my top overall life experiences. 

Week three was super fun and filled with activities, but I would also say it was a bit of a slower pace compared to the first and second weeks. In week three we visited the Vatican, Sistine Chapel, Villa Medici, Castel Sant’Angelo, and La Galleria Nazionale. My favorite part of week three was visiting La Galleria Nazionale. When I first heard we were going there I wasn’t too interested because I heard it was modern art and I didn’t think I would like it very much, but when we got there it was different than I imagined. I ended up falling in love with a lot of the pieces. We did a drawing workshop there where we simply chose a piece of art we liked and either sketched what we saw or sketched what we interpreted. It was one of the milder workshops but it was peaceful for me and I was very happy with my drawing. 

This short three week trip taught me so much and offered me so many experiences. This was my first time in Europe and I don’t think I would want it any other way. Everyone on the CIEE team and the other students contributed to make the trip like no other. Learning about history, artworks, churches, etc. was all so fun and memorable because I decided to travel abroad with CIEE. I am really sad to leave this trip behind but I have grown so much as a traveler and person on this trip and I’m excited to see what comes next!