My metro stop was Colosseo. Getting off at Colosseo you are greeted by a coffee shop where you can get a coffee or a sandwich to go. Hundreds of people surround the colosseum and wait in long lines to enter. We see the structure of the Colosseum in all of its beauty. We also see a stop to refill our water and it offers not only regular water but also sparkling water which was something I had never seen before. I really liked this because there are very few water fountains in Miami and most of the time you need to buy water if you want to drink it. My first impression of Rome was that it was very different from what I’m used to but in a beautiful way. The workers at the coffee shop understood that we did not speak Italian and were very understanding, it was comforting to see how they even tried to help us understand what they were saying. They often see and deal with many tourists and yet they were so patient with us through our language barrier which was nice to see. The coffee is spectacular but I noticed it is different than the one in Miami, in Italy they do not put sugar in their coffee whereas in Miami they use a ton of sugar and creamer. Many of the foods we eat in Miami are not here, for example we have not seen any croquetas and café con leche here. The food is a bit different here, also they have pastries and gelato everywhere! The gelato has been amazing! I also noticed that everything is much cheaper here in Italy and the cost of living is much less, that is the biggest difference I have noticed so far. The coffees I have had here have ranged in price from 1.50 euros to 3.50 euros whereas in Miami the coffee I usually have is $7 US dollars. You get much more for your coin here and I appreciate that. I have also loved the experience of taking public transportation because in Miami I never did. Because we are fortunate enough to have cars in Miami I had never used public transportation and I was not accustomed to walking so much, it has been very nice to experience something new. The Metro has been fairly easy to use although I still need to get accustomed to it. I feel it has been good for my soul to change up the way I have been living. The environment in Italy is very different compared to the environment in Miami but in a good way. The people in Italy are more calm compared to the loudness and craziness of Miami. I have absolutely loved being able to wake up in the morning and walk down the street to get a cappuccino and a croissant for breakfast and I cannot wait to continue on this journey of exploring Italy and all of its beauty. I am very excited to see all that is to come and I feel beyond blessed to be able to experience this.
Roma as Text: Adriana Herrera
One of my absolute favorite places that we have visited so far is Villa Adriana, however I may be biased. As we made our way to Villa Adriana we walked through a residential neighborhood and the area nearby was not in the best condition, we could see many of the buildings were run down and many of the local shops were closed down. Most of them most likely shut down due to covid as its effect on small businesses took a toll on many. When we arrived at Villa Adriana we were greeted by a huge sign that I am standing in front of in the picture inserted below. I found Villa Adriana to be absolutely gorgeous, I loved the greenness of it all.
Roman Emperor Hadrian did a great job of creating beautiful structures and buildings combining traditions of Rome, Egypt, and Ancient Greece. I loved how the site was very large and the Villa was made as an “ideal city” which I found to be very interesting. The way Hadrian tried to combine buildings representing Egypt, Ancient Greece, and Rome is very important in my opinion because it shows that he valued all three of them and wanted to display their traditions and he believed that all of them displayed together would make an “ideal city”.
We hear the term “ideal city” still used a lot today, many people actually believe that Miami is an “ideal city” because of its Latin American influences and its beautiful landscape such as its beaches. As we continued to walk through Hadrian’s Villa, I found it very interesting to learn that back then married couples were not the way they are now, back then many married couples were monogamous in marriage but not in sexual relations. Hadrian’s wife knew that he was seeing a young man Antinous and it was something that was not hidden from her. In our world today we do not see this happening. I found it very powerful that when Antinous died Hadrian honored him and had people worship Antinous and founded the city Antinoopolis to honor Antinous. The only thing that I did not like was that I did not see his wife displayed anywhere. The idea of marriage was different for Romans back then. Nowadays most married couples are monogamous, both in marriage and sexual relations so it was shocking to learn that Hadrian’s wife knew about Hadrian’s sexual relations with Antinous and was not upset about it.
I believe that the Roman married couples back then were either friends and were okay with each other having separate affairs or did not speak about it at all. In our world today most women would not be okay with that. Another thing that was interesting to learn about Hadrian’s Villa was that it served as a retreat from Roma for Emperor Hadrian because he did not like the palace on the Palatine Hill. I really liked the fact that Hadrian’s Villa is still open to visitors today because although it may not look the exact same anymore due to how much time has passed, it is still such an important architectural legacy that should be studied and talked about and I am grateful we had the opportunity to do that.
Villa Adriana (Image by Adriana Herrera/ CC by 4.0)
Pompeii as Text: Adriana Herrera
Visiting Pompeii was moving, captivating, and a little rainy. It was very saddening and upsetting to learn about the volcano that erupted nearby that was so catastrophic it destroyed the city of Pompeii and took thousands of lives. When we walked around Pompeii, the story of those who lost their lives made us realize that they were people just like us and that is when the shock set in that this actually happened. Seeing their bodies casted through the cases was devastating and learning that most of them were poor people and children because most of the wealthy people were not in Pompeii at the time of the volcano eruption was also upsetting. Seeing the babies in the cast with their mothers was heartbreaking.
Personally I did not like the fact that their bodies were displayed, I know that that is the only way to have people connect to what happened but I feel that those people should not be casted for others to see I feel they should be put to rest peacefully. I did not like the fact that they were up for display. Pompeii has so much history behind it that made this day trip very eye-opening and special to me, I really enjoyed Sylvia touring us around and seeing everything really made me appreciate the history of Pompeii. It was interesting to see how open they were sexually in Pompeii, there were penises sculpted around many of the brothels and all I could think about while seeing this was that we would never see this in Miami. Sure we might seeing drawings of penises but never sculptures of them making their mark. Prostitution was very normal in Pompeii and Roman men would visit brothels regularly and this was normalized back then.
Brothels had no stigma in the city back then whereas compared to today they hold great stigma in our world and are not seen as a normal place to visit. Oh how the times have changed. We are still very sexual today, the only difference is that sexuality was celebrated back then whereas it is shamed and looked down upon today. It does not make much sense to me why we are trying to hide our sexuality or why we are shaming others for theirs when sexuality is a beautiful thing. Seeing the remains of Pompeii and learning about the way Romans lived their lives was very interesting and Pompeii showed us a lot that we were free to explore. I do not believe we would have been able to learn so much about the day to day lives of the Romans if we did not visit Pompeii so I am very thankful we had the chance to see what we did. There is still a lot of history to uncover at Pompeii, four days ago there was an article published that two new skeletons were found in Pompeii, they were the skeletons of two Pompeii victims of an earthquake before the Vesuvius volcano eruption. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed our visit to Pompeii no matter the weather and I loved all the history Pompeii has to offer.
Pompeii (Photo by Adriana Herrera/CC by 4.0)
Toscana as Text: Adriana Herrera
Throughout our time in Italia we have seen incredible sights, eaten amazing food, and walked many many steps… Our day trip to Pisa was one that will never be forgotten. Going to Pisa was a wonderful day trip that I absolutely loved and enjoyed. From seeing the Leaning Tower of Pisa to laying on the grass with the class and listening to “First day of my life” by Bright Eyes, Pisa was my favorite day trip that we have gone on so far. The Leaning Tower of Pisa was not how I expected it to be, I definitely expected it to be more leaning than it actually was in person. Hundreds of tourists taking photos with all types of different poses surrounded it which was something I was not expecting but wow it was packed.
Seeing the Leaning tower of Pisa taught me two things; you can still be successful regardless of your flaws and not everything is as it seems. Look at how the Leaning Tower of Pisa begun for example, the tower began to lean due to its construction but ended up being hugely talked about and well known due to just that. Now the Leaning Tower of Pisa is famous for its foundation and its structure because it is a leaning tower. When it was our turn to walk up the Leaning Tower of Pisa I expected it to be much more difficult to walk up, but thankfully it was not as difficult as I expected and the view was absolutely incredible once we reached the top.
As soon as we walked into Pisa I absolutely loved how it felt like walking into a small town. There were many locals everywhere and many of the tourists took a completely different direction than we did and Pisa felt very similar to how Florence is, a small college town with many people of our age. The whole town square of Piazza dei Miracoli was beautiful, the . It was very interesting to learn that it was designed so that people would be born, get married, live, and die without having to leave the city of Pisa. When we visited Campo Santo it was very shocking to learn that was where everyone was buried and we were walking on their graves. It felt wrong to be walking on their graves and it was especially upsetting to learn about Deane Keller and his story. His grave was mostly covered when we saw it and many people have forgotten about him even after he left being a Yale professor to serve in the army in Italy.
Battistero di San Giovanni was another place we visited that was absolutely gorgeous. I was not expecting for there to be music and I was very caught off guard when the worker began singing, I think we all were. Overall, I loved Pisa and I felt it was perfect for a day trip and I am very grateful we had the opportunity to experience it and enjoy the city.
Leaning Tower of Pisa (Photo by Adriana Herrera/CC by 4.0)
Cinque Terre as Text: Adriana Herrera
Arriving in Cinque Terre I was pleasantly surprised by our beautiful view of the mountain and the landscape around us, when I thought of Cinque Terre prior to the trip I thought of water I never thought of the mountains that we would see. It felt like a home away from home. At the sanctuary it was so peaceful and quiet and nothing like the cities we had been to. It was a change that we all needed. Oftentimes we are so busy moving from place to place that we forget to live in the moment and take a breathe. We were able to do that in Cinque Terre.
Although the hike we did was very challenging it also taught us to push ourselves. Personally I have a big fear of heights so I was terrified most of the time but I pushed myself to at least finish the first mountain because I knew I could do it. Oftentimes we do not give ourselves enough credit to how much we can actually accomplish if we set our minds to it. That is how most things in life are; they seem impossible until we do them. I truly enjoyed my time at Cinque Terre, surrounded by all the nature and the quiet was just what I needed. I wish we had more time there, it is truly a special time.
As I look back at our time in Cinque Terre I know I will really miss the food, the peace and quiet, the people, the memories, and of course the view. I loved how we all sat together at dinner, I thought it was very nice that even if we all did different things that day we would all come together at the end of the day. I feel that it brought us closer together. The food was absolutely amazing and the tiramisu wow! I am definitely sad to leave Cinque Terre but I am happy I have such good memories to look back on. I would have to say my favorite memory was yesterday when a group of us girls went down to the beach in the taxi and we sang with the windows down all the way down the mountain. That’s a memory I’ll never forget.
As the Italia study abroad program is coming to an end, I am sad to go. This has definitely been a once in a lifetime experience and one that I would recommend to everyone. Our time in Cinque Terre really helped me realize that all we have is right now. All we have is the present moment and nothing else is guaranteed and that makes me sad but happy. Sad because time goes by so fast, happy because we have the power to do whatever we want (within reason) in this present moment. Cinque Terre taught me that what you do with your time determines the way your life will turn out so do things that make you happy and try your best to see the bright side of things even in bad situations. Life is so short and there’s no time to waste on things that don’t matter.
Cinque Terre (Photo by Adriana Herrera/CC by 4.0)