After a full week of final assignments and projects, an emotional call of bad news, a little drama in the air, and eleven restless girls itching to explore Italy, our third travel break could not have fallen at a more perfect time. We had so much fun hosting the Meredith alumnae and having dinner with our sweet host families, but we were ready to finally make our on schedules and relax. Sad to leave Sansepolcro for the last time, but excited to finally experience the Rome life, five of us girls took off with all of our belongings on our backs to enjoy our final days in the beautiful country we had grown to love and adore.
With our well researched travel plans, we managed to board each of our trains without the slightest bit of trouble, and we found our way to Rome just a few hours later. The part we didn’t have planned, however, was how we would manage to reach our hotel from the train station. The eleven mile walk wasn’t ideal with our luggage, so we began to hunt for a taxi. This sounds like an easy task; however, we didn’t have an address for our hotel. We only had walking directions, and none of the taxi drivers spoke great English. I suppose we just assumed that Hotel Texas was a well-known place, but apparently it didn’t occur to us that Rome was one of the biggest cities in Italy. Also, it was a struggle to find a taxi big enough to transport all five of us. It was one conflict after another, but we managed to resolve each problem, and landed a cheap taxi ride from a very sweet Italian man. The first night, after getting checked in to our hotel rooms, we decided that it was time to experience a little bit of American food. We made a reservation, and headed to Hard Rock Café to enjoy a relaxing meal after a long day of travel.
The second day began bright and early with a scheduled, small group tour of the Vatican, Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter’s Basilica. Thankfully because of our pre-purchased tickets and our group tour, we were able to skip the mile long line that lead to the Vatican entrance. With the new Pope having just been appointed, it was very exciting to visit “the Holy See,” and witness the place where this very famous man resides. When we walked in, we came upon a landing with an open view of the beautiful Vatican City. As we continued to walk through the museum, we witnessed many sculptures, paintings, frescos, tapestries, and other incredible artwork that were all significant to the Roman Catholic Church, and the Vatican City. The details and the talent portrayed in the artwork are unbelievable, and I found it especially interesting that each piece of art had a great deal of historical importance. Along the tour of these infamous places inside of the Vatican City, we then traveled to the Sistine Chapel. When I think of Rome, I first think of the Sistine Chapel, and for that reason I was more than excited to see what all of the praise was about. The Sistine Chapel was beautiful! Every inch of the walls and the ceiling were covered with gorgeous paintings and frescos. Each painting represented many of the characters and stories throughout the Bible. My favorite part of the entire chapel was the ceiling. On our tour, we had twenty minutes to walk around and absorb the chapel, but I stood in one spot and marveled at the beauty and the talent that went in to creating the tall, artistic ceiling. The last stop on the tour was Saint Peter’s Basilica. This particular site is also very prominent to the Roman Catholic religion, and I was excited to see it with my own eyes. When we walked in, I was completely stunned by the size of the building. It was absolutely huge! However, they didn’t let the size of the building get in the way of decorating. The Basilica was designed to perfection with the large amount of art, tiled designs, wallpaper patterns, statues, and alters. We walked around for an hour, just taking in the beauty that was before us. We also stood in line to personally witness the preserved body of Pope John XXIII. I was amazed out how the body looked. It literally looked as if he could have died yesterday. We ended our tour and spent the rest of the day walking around Rome, enjoying some of the authentic food, visiting the shops, conquering the subway system, and treating ourselves to all the gelato we could eat. It was a long, hot, and tiring day, but it was one of the best days we’ve had abroad. We ended the night even more excited for the next day’s adventures.
The next day we set off to finally visit the Colosseum and the Roman Forum. Considering this is one of the most famous monuments in the world, I was beyond excited. Luckily, when we arrived at the Colosseum, there was only about a five minute wait so we were able to purchase our tickets and head right in. The Colosseum was so much bigger than pictures portray, and more amazing than a picture could possibly do it justice. It’s fascinating that something this big was built nearly two thousand years ago, and still remains standing today. We climbed to the top of the Colesseum, and looked down on the beautiful view of the city. It was also odd to stand where spectators once sat, and think about the performance that was happening down below. I couldn’t possibly imagine this form of entertainment existing, and it gave me chills just standing there and thinking about it. Leaving the Colosseum, we spotted a very cute, outside restaurant placed directly under the branches of a very large tree. We stopped for lunch, and enjoyed one of the best meals we had ever eaten. Rejuvenated and ready for more adventure, we then headed off to visit the Roman Ruins. It was a lot of fun walking around, seeing these fascinating sites, and visiting some of the mini museums filled with ancient artifacts. While walking around, we also discovered a very beautiful view of the back of the Colesseum, and together we spent a view minutes just relaxing at the top of a rock, and taking in the beauty that surrounded us. We spent the rest of the day shopping on the streets of Rome, and enjoying our last day in the city. It was truly a great day!
On our final day in Rome and in Italy, we backed our bags, called a taxi, and headed straight to the hotel where we would meet the rest of the group. When we heard that there was a beach next door to our hotel, it was a synonymous vote that we spend the last day on the beach. We each rented beach chairs, and headed to the beach for the remainder of the afternoon. We spent the day just relaxing and reflecting on the past five weeks and the friendships that we had made. Watching the ocean roll in and feeling the breeze fly by, I realized just how blessed I have been to have this opportunity. It finally hit me that our trip was coming to an end, and I was filled with emotion. Happy to be traveling back home, yet still sad to leave, I knew that Italy would forever have a special place in my heart.