American-Style Aperitivo

Everyone loves Italian aperitivos, right? Fresh mozzarella, bruschetta, olives, porchetta, wine. What more can you ask for? Getting to spend time with wonderful people and socializing is the best part! Well, this past Wednesday we decided to throw an American-style aperitivo for our teachers and staff. We all contributed in making tasty American treats and we all bought either a red or white wine to serve to our guests. We had sliders, grilled cheese, salad, croissants, guacamole dip and chips, biscuits with honey butter, French fries, pepper jelly and crackers, pies and of course… WINE! I very much enjoyed having all of our teachers here at once and getting to know them better. There were a few people that I had not met yet, so it was so nice to get to introduce myself and tell them a little bit about me. We all dressed up (which we don’t get to do very often) and worked so hard on pleasing our guests as best as we could. Just like always, Mary Lou was the star of the show. We absolutely loved having her here and we love getting her opinion on any topic she wants to discuss. Roberta brought her beautiful little girl and the only thing she would eat is the grilled cheese! It made all of us laugh because that’s one of the main things we would eat when we were little. Francesco couldn’t join us this time, but I’m sure he will make it next time after hearing about our food and wine selection! Altogether, it was a delightful experience and I cannot wait to get to do it again! Our American-style aperitivo was most definitely something to be proud of, but best of all was getting to serve our teachers and staff that we are oh so grateful for. They deserve it all!


Chigi sisters and faculty after the aperitivo

Savannah Nichols

Rome If You Want To

When I traveled to Italy in high school, Rome was my favorite city. I loved the architecture, culture and the ruins. When I learned about Joseph S. Bruno Auburn Abroad in Italy, I knew it was the program for me.

After a long first week and trying to overcome jetlag, three girls and I decided to plan a last minute weekend trip to Rome. Filled with excitement and anxiously awaiting to see the beautiful city of Rome, we were off. Being given the advise to get lost within the city, we did just that. Without a plan or map we strolled through the city running into picturesque ancient Roman ruins by surprise. We ended up visiting Trajan’s Column, Trajan’s Market, the Spanish Steps, the Trevi Fountain and the Colosseum. Each of these sights was more breathtaking than I remembered. My absolute favorite as always was the Trevi Fountain. We turned the corner and there it was the most beautiful thing. I could sit there and look at it all day long. There is something about the crystal blue water against the white sculptures and building that are just astounding. The city is rich with food and culture. I am thankful for all of the walking because of three words: pasta, pizza, and bread.

60,000 steps later, I was more in love with the city than ever before. We had learned our way around the city fairly well. Our Rome weekend trip was filled with so many memories that I will cherish for the rest of my life.

Trevi Fountain: This what dreams are made of

Trevi Fountain: “This is what dreams are made of”   – Lizzie McGuire


Caroline Mathews

Exploring an Italian Fashion Capital

Inside the Armani Silos Museum

Inside the Armani Silos Museum

During my personal travel time, I ventured north of Joseph S. Bruno’s study abroad location to Milan for a weekend. As an Apparel Merchandising major, the opportunity to visit the 6th largest fashion capital in the world was one I could not pass up. Italy is a fashionable place to begin with, however this city was full of people dressed to the nines for a causal outing. My absolute favorite part of the trip was visiting the Armani Silos museum. The building houses over four hundred pieces from the iconic designer’s collections throughout the course of his career. As described by the curators, Armani Silos is “Not a museum but a collection of ideas and projects to build the future. Not a chronological account, but the history of a professional experience that reveals a world of unique skills.” The passion behind Giorgio Armani’s pieces could be felt and the presentation of his work as a whole was extremely well executed by the museum’s team. I spent a total of two-and-a-half hours touring the four floors, each having a different theme. The first floor was stars and daywear; the Stars room was dedicated to the many celebrities to don his garments. The second floor, Exoticism, dives into Armani’s creations that have been influenced by fashion from around the word such as African kaftans, Southeast Asian sarongs, Pakistani tunics and inspiration from other non-western cultures. Colour Schemes is the third floor and is a compilation of Armani’s bold and provocative use of black alongside pops of color and shine. The beading and craftsmanship of the pieces were truly astounding in person. His last floor, Light, showcases his stunning gowns in shades of nude, pearl and silver. Each dress took my breath away in its own individual way because of the incredible details. It was truly an honor to be in the presence of timeless couture worn by celebrities, first ladies and heiresses alike. I am thankful to the Auburn Abroad experience for allowing me to live only a train ride away from some of the greatest fashion and historical places in the world.

By: Megan Maiorano

Closing My Eyes In Ostia

Ostia Antica was an amazing tour for me because of our tour guide. Her name was Francesca Caruso. She really taught me how to take my thoughts and put myself into the objects that I was observing. She told our class that when we are on these tours and look at the Ancient Roman ruins or historical monuments, that we should close our eyes and imagine ourselves in that time. She said that we needed to forget about our lives and really try to pretend what it was like to live like the Ancient Romans in Ostia Antica. Ostia Antica was an ancient Roman town that all the imports had to pass through before going to Rome or other parts of Italy. In Ostia Antica there are tombs for the people that had died.

Also there was a theatre for plays and acting which I thought was an amazing thing to see. It was amazing because it was still in pretty good shape and you could see where the men in their togas sat and you could see the stage.

If I closed my eyes as the tour guide suggested, I could see the actors putting on a show. Also, as I walked on the Roman Roads that went through the city I could see the men riding their horses through the town and stopping for water at the well that was in the middle of the street. I looked at the bathing rooms and could close my eyes and imagine rich,wealthy men all sitting around the bath talking about important details in their everyday lives. The cafeteria looks so real with the clerk desk and the arched ceilings. I could feel the energy of smiles and happy gatherings in that room with bread and wine. Francesca really helped me connect with the old buildings I was seeing and she taught me to really connect with all the amazing pieces of history that we have gotten to witness on this trip. Now every time I go to a museum, I really try to put myself into the paintings or sculptures or even the buildings point-of-view, and try to pretend to be living in that painting to really connect with it.

Molly Bruns

Theatre At Ostia Antica Photo By: Molly Bruns

Theatre At Ostia Antica
Photo By: Molly Bruns

Memories from the Past

We recently visited the ruins of Ostia Antica, which thousands of years ago was the harbor city of Rome. When I woke up on the morning of our field trip I was excited to be getting the chance to see the ancient ruins. But our tour guide, Francesca, taught me so much more in just a few minutes than I ever could have imagined possible.

One of the first things Francesca brought up to our group was the importance of memories in history. She talked about how in Ostia, people were buried right beside the busy Roman roads of the city because they thought they could then “live on” by being remembered by the people who passed their gravestones. I think I always enjoyed history classes because I wanted to learn from those who came before me. But thinking about how I was standing right next to the graves of the people who wanted so badly to be remembered seemed so much more tangible than sitting in a history class learning about the people of the past.

We have such a unique opportunity with this program not only to learn about Italy and its history, but to actually experience the memories of those who lived here and apply them to our own lives and careers. Although the girls on this trip come from a variety of backgrounds and majors, we each have a chance to gain all we can from the memories of those who have been a part of this country.

Personally, I look forward to being able to use my memories of my time in Italy in my daily life as well as when I enter the physical therapy profession and work to better understand the needs of different people. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll also be able to leave some of my own memories behind in the process, just like the people buried beside the roads in Ostia Antica.

The Roman road leading into Ostia Antica, with the graves of ancient Romans nearby

This is the Roman road leading into Ostia Antica. The graves of ancient Romans are nearby.


Emily Ebner

Sweet Home Ariccia

Never in my life did I imagine that I would be calling Ariccia, Italy my home. It is a tiny town in the Roman countryside that not many people have heard of. It isn’t glamorous or fast-paced like Rome or Milan that are bustling with interesting people. There is hardly anyone here who speaks English, unlike in the bigger cities in Italy, which has proven to be a challenge. After a long weekend of traveling, there is nothing more refreshing than driving over the bridge into sweet Ariccia and feeling like I am home safe.

The area where we are in Italy, in my opinion, is a hidden gem. Rome is beautiful and large with so much to offer, but the Castelli Romani region where Ariccia is located is absolutely idyllic. Little towns like Nemi, Castel Gandolfo, and Frascati all have their quirks that make them so special. For the typical tourist who comes to Italy, these towns may not be on their radar, but I am so thankful that I’ve gotten a chance to see and learn about these places.

Living here and exploring the neighboring cities feels as classic Italy should-quaint family owned businesses on every corner and old Italian men sitting on the square solving all of life’s problems. People are friendly and are so thankful that we are here in their city wanting to learn from them.

Learn from them is exactly what I’ve done. From the mustache man who sells sandwiches to the sweet lady in the coffee bar, people here remind me of the Southern Alabama culture I left behind. People are what I was sad to leave behind in the US and people are what have made Ariccia feel like my adopted home. Even our professors are kind and make it easy to want to learn from them. Life here feels authentic and intentional. No one seems to be in a rush and the simple act of sharing a meal together is a celebration. Ariccia is home away from home and I am so thankful for this program that has brought me to it!

I will never get tired of this view from the bridge.

I will never get tired of this view from the bridge.

Lily Bowron

Pilgrimage to the Pantheon

My whole life I have been moved by buildings. Something about the way they can dominate a view and extract an emotional response, either good or bad, from deep within our souls has compelled me to study them.  The Pantheon has been featured in architecture courses and art history seminars. Throughout my long and ongoing education, I’ve always been drawn to it, not just because it’s one of the best-preserved ancient Roman buildings, but because its name in Greek literally means “every god.” After so many religious wars, exclusion, and turmoil because of differing beliefs, for me this concept seems peaceful, nurturing, and inviting to all.

After viewing the structure in books and projected in dimly-lit classroom auditoriums, I thought I fully understood it. After years of “Pantheon-hype” I finally stumbled upon it on a busy Sunday in Rome and was completely awestruck. My loud and busy mind fell to absolute silence, despite hundreds of noisy tourists all around me. It is such an astonishing feat when we can truly just see without our inner monologue commenting. It is a peaceful sensation. As I stare up the biggest Corinthian columns I have ever seen with my own eyes, I don’t even feel small. In fact, I feel quite grand, for I have made it to one of the destinations on my life’s journey.

I thought when I saw it, I would immediately go through the catalog of architectural facts in my scholar’s brain, but instead my mind became a sponge and I was only absorbing what I saw. As I floated on my cloud of happiness inside and around the building with my jaw permanently dropped, scanning every detail, I heard nothing. A peacefulness washed over me and I feel as if I transcended my previous self.

What I experienced in the Pantheon still confounds me. I think it might have just been a reaction to witnessing a really amazing piece of architecture, or the release of something I had built up in my mind for years. Regardless of what I experienced, my takeaway is this: there is seeing something and there is feeling something. When you are someplace spectacular, try seeing less with your eyes and more with your soul. For when you leave that place, what you did see will stay imprinted on your soul and that impression is eternal.

-Emily S. Koelle

Views of the Front Facade and Columns of the Pantheon (Shot with Fujifilm Instax Mini 8)

Views of the front facade and columns of the Pantheon (Shot with Fujifilm Instax Mini 8 Camera)

Letters to Leah

The day before I boarded my flight to Italy, my best friend stopped by my house and delivered an envelope to me.  On the outside of the envelope it read, “See you in 83 days…1,992 hours…119,520 minutes…7,171, 200 seconds. We miss you already.” and it was filled with letters from all of my closest friends. The letters made me want to both laugh and cry, but I had no idea how much they would mean to me as I adjusted to life in a new country.

I am here to share parts of the letters and what the words mean to me now that Europe is more than just a place I’ve seen in movies.

1.       “Everyone wants to have their Lizzie Mcguire moment.”

Mine just happened to be at the Trevi Fountain. No, Paolo did not show up and then drive me around Rome on a Vespa. But the fountain was more beautiful than I even imagined, and I still have time for my wish to come true.  Oh, and this trip really is what dreams are made of.

2.       “Pay attention to the fashion.”

The street style I have seen in Paris and Rome has inspired me more than any Pinterest board.

3.       “Be grateful.”

One small example of the many things I’m grateful for while here is that while I have been able to drink local wines and eat delicious authentic mozzarella, I guarantee that my friends are at home drinking a six dollar bottle of Barefoot Miscato and eating Kraft singles.

4.       “I want you to take a moment to look around and soak up everything about that moment! The world is truly colorful!!!”

Enough said.

5.       “The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience. (sic)”

Okay, Sidney did not come up with this herself. However, she did put this quote by Eleanor Roosevelt at the bottom of her letter and it could not be more perfect. It has become sort of a life goal for me, especially during my time abroad.

I officially have 66 days left of my time in Europe. Although I miss my friends like crazy, I feel thankful to have their words of love and support hanging by my bed, and I know when I get back home I will have amazing memories, pictures, and stories to share with them.

-Leah Hutchins

The letters from my "American friends"

The letters from my ‘American friends’


Feeling The Love

Celebrating Valentine's Day at the Eiffel Tower with my new best friends in astonishment that we are finally here living out our childhood dreams!

I celebrated Valentine’s Day at the Eiffel Tower with my new best friends and sat in astonishment that we are finally here living out our childhood dreams!

After an exhausting week of walking nearly 30 miles in Rome and discovering the iconic monuments of the city, we decided to treat ourselves to a Valentines weekend in Paris. With our hopes set high, ready to begin our first weekend of travel outside of Italy, we embarked for the airport bright and early at 4:30 am ready for a sensational weekend.

As a child I had always dreamed of going to Paris. After discovering the ins-and-outs of the metro system, we arrived at the Eiffel Tower. This trip gave me firsthand experience learning how to navigate a new city using a map. In the same moment as we arrived, a couple was standing next to us getting engaged with rose petals and music. In this moment, I realized the ‘city of love’ reputation was a true stereotype and immediately a piece of my heart was left in the city.  Seeing the vast views of the city in lights including the Ferris Wheel and Notre Dame and experiencing the Eiffel Tower twinkle in the evening is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

The Champs-Elysees is an apparel merchandising major’s dream. Walking past the quintessential European fashion stores, and admiring their window displays, allowed me to channel my knowledge from previous classes and envision my personal twist to their presentation and appreciate the inspiration behind each detail. Post marvel, it was time to try an acclaimed macaroon. This experience did not disappoint. We found Pierre Hermes, one of the famous macaroon shops, at the base of the Arc de Triomphe and stared in the astonishment of, not only the beautifully displayed monument, but also the rich flavors of the world’s best macaroon. I will definitely be trying a few macaroon recipes upon my arrival to America.

Leaving Paris with 500 pictures, developing relationships with my new best friends, and indulging in French cuisine left me in awe, anxiously awaiting my next trip to Paris during midterm break. It is hard for me to imagine the amount of opportunities and memories that are still in store for me during this program.

Au revoir,

Kelli Finzer

La Dolce Vita

I am still in shock that we have just started the third week of my time here in Ariccia. The days here seem like they are never ending (in a good way), but the weeks come to an end in lightening speed. La Dolce Vita means The Sweet Life, and Italy is nothing short of sweet. All the way from different sights we have visited, to the people, and to the gelato, Italy does not disappoint in any department.

Since I am fashion major, it has been so fun for me to really get to see the way people dress in Europe. I have travelled to Amsterdam and Rome and the people in both places seem to have the same wardrobe: sneakers, jeans, and parkas! We seriously walk everywhere (thank goodness), so a cute pair of sneakers are a must. I have already invested in two pairs of Adidas, but I still have a long way to go before I achieve that cool European “street style”.

After long weeks and even longer weekends, I am so ready and so happy to be back home in Ariccia. Yes, the places we travel are so amazing, but nothing can beat the comfort of our home at the palace. We get to see the real side of Italy by living in Ariccia just because we are seriously immersed in this town and their culture.

Tonight we were “adopted” by our Italian family, and I am so excited to truly see the way they live their life, and benefiting by the food and the comfort of a family at the same time! I am looking forward to the rest of my time here, but I am making sure to not take any second for granted.

Patricia FlachDSC_0836