We checked out of our hotel in Fira, Santorini and traveled by plane to Rome, arriving in the evening around 6 pm, and were immediately struck by the heat - so different from Greece, which was more of a dry heat. Rome is humid!
Our hotel is very central, close to the Colosseum. We quickly dumped our bags and headed out for a late-night dinner at 9:30. Students were surprised to find that the heaping bowl of rigatoni was what Italians call Primi - the first course! Then came the Secondi (veal scallopini/eggplant parmigiana) and dessert – tiramisu or panna cotta. You can only imagine how exhausted we were as we returned to the hotel around 11 pm, drenched in sweat. Our time in Rome has been full of exploration and wonder.
Our first full day in Rome saw us touring Baroque Rome. We headed out to the iconic Spanish Steps, threw coins into the Trevi Fountain, making wishes for our continued adventures and academic success, and marveled at the Pantheon, both for its art and its architecture, commissioned by Marcus Agrippa in 27 AD. We ended up in Piazza Navona where we stocked up on gelato and water. The piazza was originally the Stadium of Domitian, built by Emperor Titus Flavius Domitianus in 80 AD.
The afternoon was spent in class, followed by free time, and then dinner in another local restaurant.
In the heatwave that Italy is experiencing, we are vigilant with the students' health and exposure to the heat.
If yesterday was "go for Baroque," today was all ancient Rome! We headed out early to tour the Colosseum and the Forum with 2 excellent guides who filled our heads with interesting info about the formation of Rome, the rise and fall of Julius Caesar, and the rise of the Great Roman Empire!
We learned many grisly facts about the sacrificing of slaves and prisoners of war to the lions, alligators, and any other predatory animals brought back to Rome from the outer reaches of the Roman Empire.
Thumbs up meant death (a successful conclusion to the entertainment), and thumbs down meant freedom for the slave. Odd that we have reversed the meaning in the present day.
Though we were fortunate to have a smattering of the only clouds to see Italy this summer, protecting us from the worst of the noonday sun, we were ready to ponder the lessons learned while sipping lemonade in any place that was air-conditioned! Students learned the difference between Neapolitan and Roman pizza, and other vital facts. With free time before heading back to the hotel for classes, everyone headed out to shop a little and enjoy wandering at will.
Our last day in Rome! With a much-needed day to catch up on classwork for many, about half the class heads out to Vatican City in the afternoon.
Twenty-two students opted to visit Vatican City, a 109-acre state that is the spiritual home of the Catholic Church and the Pope. Enclosed within a 9th-century wall, the Vatican is under a colonnade designed by Michelangelo that leads to St. Peter’s Square and the Basilica.
We first walked through the Vatican Museum, gaping at the priceless treasures and numerous works of art. We were also lucky to catch the end of a wedding inside St. Peter's Basilica too!
And so, we leave Rome behind and head to Florence for the last stop on our adventure!
Yours from Italy,
- Blyth Academy News