21st Birthdays in Italy!
Adan Youngblood: AU Architecture, Design, and Construction- Spring Program in Rome, Italy Spring 2019
One of my favorite parts of studying abroad in Italy was not only getting to experience the amazing culture, architecture, and history of Rome, but getting to travel to multiple other Italian cities as well! During my time abroad, I was able to travel to Florence, Hadrian’s Villa, Anzio, and Venice, and each trip was a unique experience that helped to further my appreciation and understanding of Italy.
On our first opportunity to take a weekend trip, we were excited to travel just an hour and a half away by train to the beautiful city of Florence, Italy. As architecture majors, we were excited to see the famous eggshell Duomo cathedral that dominates the city skyline, so that was our first stop once we arrived. We had tickets to climb up through the double shell dome to the cathedral’s rooftop, and after traveling the 463 stairs up through the dome’s dizzying narrow passage, we arrived at the top to see the amazing 360 degree views over the entire city of Florence. It is one of my favorite experiences that I have ever had! While in Florence, we also were able to see Michelangelo’s famed “David” sculpture (which is much bigger in real life than we had ever thought), as well as Botticelli’s painting “The Birth of Venus”.
I was fortunate to be able to spend my 21st birthday in Italy while studying abroad, but I was even luckier that our class took an amazing trip to Hadrian’s Villa and the hill town of Tivoli that day! Located just about 45 minutes outside of Rome, Hadrian’s Villa is the ruins of emperor Hadrian’s secluded retreat from the city. It was amazing to see the expanse of the complex, and to envision how majestic it had been when it was in use. Afterwards, we visited the town of Tivoli, where we saw the beautiful Villa d’Este, known for its magical fountains and views over the countryside surrounding Rome.
Another quick, but unforgettable, trip that we took was to the Roman beach town of Anzio. We went on a day off from classes, and took an hour train ride out of the city towards the ocean. On the train, we passed by ancient Roman aqueducts that seemed to span infinitely, which was a great experience in itself! In Anzio, we were able to see caves carved into the rocky cliffs of the ocean by Roman emperor Nero. The beach was beautiful, and covered with rocks and sea glass.
My last Italian excursion was to Venice, during the last weekend of Carnival! Venice is one of the most unique places in the world, as almost all travel is done by water. Traveling by bus is usually not a special experience, but traveling by water bus was an exciting experience no matter where we were going. We visited the popular Piazza San Marco, which was full of people in vibrant and extravagant Carnival costumes and masks. We also traveled to the nearby island of Burano, where all buildings were vibrantly painted in all colors of the rainbow. Venice was especially beautiful at night, when the busy streets died down and the water was calm.
Rome will always be the Italian city that is the most special to me, because of the time I spent there and the amazing memories I made and things I got to experience. Still, I am so thankful that I got to see and appreciate a few other amazing Italian cities, and there are still many more I hope to make it to in the future!