This past weekend, I experienced my last academic trip of the year: an overnight visit to Rome. We were graced with beautiful weather for the journey and, even though we were only there for two days, we got to experience so much and were given a generous amount of free time so that everyone could pursue their individual interests and go on their own to places like the Spanish Steps, Vatican City, Trevi Fountain, or even just wander around the city. Of course, after walking so much each day and tiring out our bodies, we rewarded ourselves with lots of gelato – if you’re ever in Rome, go to “Fiocco di Neve”, a wonderful gelateria that is right by the Pantheon and was recommended to us by a local!
We arrived in Rome Saturday morning and Professor DiGiugno gave us a historic walking tour during which we saw many of the most famous sights that Rome had to offer: we went inside of San Pietro in Vincoli (where we got to see Michelangelo’s “Moses” statue), the Colosseum, and the Pantheon. Rome is an amazing place because it seems like a regular Italian city until you turn a corner and stumble upon a street lined with massive ruins that have been standing there for two thousand years!
After the walking tour, we went to the Boncompagni Ludovisi Decorative Art Museum in which there was an exhibit on fashion from the 1950’s and 60’s and this was incredibly interesting because we got to see original garments and illustrations from the Italian fashion houses that we had learned about in class this year, such as Sorelle Fontana and Roberto Capucci. After this museum visit, we were free to go off on our own and I went to see the Valentino Headquarters – walking down the Spanish Steps to get there – and visited to some embroidery and fabric stores with my friends. No matter where we go in Europe, we always end up in places related to our major! It had been a long, tiring day so, after making our way back to the hotel and eating a quick dinner, it was time for some well deserved sleep so that we could be well rested for the next day.
On our second, and last, day in Rome we saw an exhibit celebrating the 150th birthday of Toulouse Lautrec at the Ara Pacis Museum, which I loved because he is one of my favorite artists and this museum had an extensive group of his original lithographs and posters on display. After this, we had a guided store visit at Louis Vuitton where we were greeted with great kindness and enthusiasm from our tour guides and I learned much more about the brand than I had known before. We were then given free time until we were to leave Rome that evening and my friends and I wandered through the streets, passing by the Trevi Fountain to make a wish, and made our way to the Palatine Hill. Exploring the ruins here was possibly my favorite part of the entire trip because it was so peaceful and calming to just walk through scraps of what were once grand buildings that have now deteriorated as nature has taken its course.
It is incredible that an extremely powerful empire once thrived in the exact area that we can casually walk around in today and that we now just see hints of what was once was. This academic trip helped us to realize the importance of history and how the ruins of old civilizations give us insight into why we must appreciate and not forget the past. Rome is a magical place with so much to see and I thoroughly enjoyed our weekend trip there; maybe I’ll go back someday to explore some more and see everything that I couldn’t during these past two days!