Wednesday was a day I will never forget. We started out getting breakfast before a second day of orientation. The cafe three doors down from us is affordable, the people are super nice – it has become our breakfast place. I just had a cappuccino (cold again, but this time it was my choice and they put whipped cream on top). Orientation was nothing to write home about. Then we had a two and a half hour break before we were due to meet up again as a group for a tour. We decided to stay in the neighborhood of the American University of Rome and explore.
We went to a sandwich shop that we heard was a regular hangout for AUR students and it did not disappoint. I got a zucchini and cheese (swiss, maybe?) panini and a homemade lemon iced tea. It tasted like an Arnold Palmer! The guy asked me if I wanted dressing for my panini and I said, “Yes?” and he said “Mustard?” and I said “Sure!” I was super skeptical but it was actually delicious. It was a great experience.
Then we went and just walked up and down the streets and went in some shops and drooled over all the pastries. We also found a beautiful church in the area and took a peek in – those of us with our knees and shoulders covered, of course. It was a calming experience to just sit in the pews and take in the stained glass windows and murals
At three we met for our bus tour and the skies were darkening. Rain was apparently in the forecast but no one on the bus except the ISA staff had thought to check ahead. Our bus tour started along with the rain. We drove to the area of Rome that has a lot of ancient architecture and ruins. We saw a pyramid (apparently they aren’t just in Egypt??) that is a tomb for a really important dude, I’m sure. We also drove along the ancient wall that used to contain Rome. It seriously blows my mind that everything we saw today is still standing. Then we saw the Baths of Caracalla which are HUGE even though they’re ruins now. You can just tell that it was massive when it was in its hay day.
Then was our time to see the Colosseum. We got out of the bus to see it and it was still sprinkling. We got out of the bus and immediately there was twenty men trying to sell us ponchos or umbrellas. The street sellers (I don’t know if that’s their real name but it’s the closest thing I can think of) can be really annoying but you have to give them credit for being smart and having umbrellas and ponchos at the blink of an eye. I was going to brave the rain but it was picking up and I didn’t have a jacket and I was getting chilly so I figured I should buy a poncho. A guy approached me and said “Five euro.” And I said “One.” And he said “Four” and I said “One” and he said “Three” and I said “One” and he said “Three” and I said “Two” and he said deal. So that was fun.
We loitered around the outside of the Colosseum for a long time waiting for headsets so we could hear our guide, and it was pouring. I honestly was having the time of my life. I mean, it was not ideal, but there are much worse things that could have happened and I was looking at the Colosseum! Not everyone was having as much fun as I was and that was disappointing but I was loving it. People always want to get kissed in the rain but I got to see the Colosseum in the rain and that was equally as cool.
We eventually went inside and that was a little eerie. Because we were in the same hallways that gladiators, wild animals, and men condemned to death had walked in and waited in. The sense of history was insanely overwhelming. It was built in 80 AD. EIGHTY. I’m not sure I can even truly recognize what that means. It was amazing.
We were supposed to see the Roman Forum too but the rain had flooded it and a lot of people were very over the situation so they cut it short. We all headed back to the apartment to put on dry clothes and warm up. I was seriously worn out and it felt really good to put on sweats. But wow. I still am really happy with how this day went, even though it wasn’t a sunny gorgeous day. It was a challenge, but I knew I would experience more than a few of those. Nevertheless, I am LOVING Rome!