Churches and Gardens and Museums, Oh My!

On Thursday, we went on a tour of Rome with our very own teacher, Francesco Petrucci, as the tour guide. Our tour started with churches in Rome that represent baroque architecture (courtesy of Bernini, of course) as well as Jesuit churches. Francesco’s knowledge of the symbolism behind the artwork in each of the churches made the experience much more enjoyable. Each church that we walk into is very impressive, so impressive that we usually have no idea what to even focus on or what is important about the many statues that we see.

After the churches and the quick tour of Palazzo Albani – which was on a street corner so it had to be quick to ensure no one was run over by a tour bus or motorcycle, we went to the Borghese gardens. For me and the group thatI did the Scavenger Hunt assignment with, this brought back some unfortunate memories, because these gardens were where we got lost during our first experience in Rome. I’m still not sure how we managed to wander around a park on the opposite side of Rome for two hours. Seriously, we stopped and had lunch here because we were so lost. Walking through the park with Cinzia to guide us was a much better experience.

We toured the Borghese Gallery where we saw incredible statues such as “Apollo and Daphne”, and “The Rape of Persephone”. The Rape of Persephone has been my favorite sculpture yet because of the incredible detail. Bernini was able to make the statue unbelievably lifelike, from the way the foot was curved, to the veins in Hades’ hand, to the impression he makes on her skin as he is grabbing her. The gallery, gardens, and churches were such an amazing experience and I can’t wait to learn more about Italy’s history and art as we venture into Venice and Florence in the upcoming week!

“The Rape of Persephone” showing the complex detail of the statue.

Hailey Schorsch

Hostels Are the Way To Go

Walking Tour Through Park Guell with my brother, Addison

Walking Tour Through Park Guell with my brother, Addison

Before traveling abroad, I learned about the three different lodging options we have while traveling from the palace; a hotel, an Airbnb, or a hostel. I had never stayed anywhere other than a hotel before. I was open to the idea of staying at an Airbnb because they are apartments or homes that people are renting out. I was most hesitant about staying in a hostel. When I thought of a hostel, I thought of open room with random people, uncomfortable beds, and people going through my things. So as we began to plan our weekend vacations, I always jumped at the idea of staying in a hotel or Airbnb and turned my nose up to the hostel option. To my liking, we stayed in a hotel for almost all of our trips before midterm break. When I began to plan my break with my brother, we decided to travel to Barcelona, Spain. We were both on tight budgets so after buying plane tickets, we decided to book the cheapest lodging option which was a hostel. I was very hesitant so I checked out and read all the reviews for about an hour until I finally decided on a hostel named Mediterranean Youth Hostel. The reviews were great so I was anxious to see what staying in a hostel was really like.
After our flight landed in Barcelona, my brother and I took a short cab ride to our hostel and when we arrived, I had my map pulled out and I realized our hostel was in the middle of everything the city had to offer! I was very excited but still hesitant how the three-day stay would be. We entered the hostel and the man at the front desk had a huge smile and greeted us with a warm welcome. My nerves were immediately at ease as the man began to check us in. It was an easy check in process and the man started to go over the hostel, which included a full kitchen, a game room, a laundry room, lockers for our things, and free walking tours every morning. The man led us to our room, gave us clean sheets and towels and told us to let him know if we needed anything. When he left the room, my brother and I both looked at each other knowing we had made the right decision.
The next day, we did a free walking tour with the hostel, which included a tour of Sagrada Familia and Park Guell. The tour guide was so informative and the groups of people with us were all so nice. Throughout the tour we got to know the people in the group who were from all over the world, and we decided to all have dinner together at the hostel. So that night, we had a great dinner at the hostel that a chef cooked for us for only 11 euros. It was a delicious meal and it was so much fun getting to know so many different people that were doing the same thing we were – trying to enjoy what Barcelona had to offer.
After our three-day stay was over at the Mediterranean Youth Hostel, I was sad to say goodbye to not only the people we met but also the hostel itself. The hostel made our entire Barcelona trip so much more enjoyable and fun, I am so glad I decided to book there. Not only was it budget friendly, the workers provided us with so much helpful information and we met friends that we look forward to keeping in touch with for a long time. I cannot wait to stay in another hostel and see what it has to offer!

Olivia Still

Let Down Your Hair

I know we live in a palace, and even though it feels like we are living a fairytale, we aren’t locked in the castle. We can get out of our comfort zones. I believe that you only fully experience the opportunities that present themselves if you allow yourself to get out there and do things you might not normally do. I have approached my few weeks here with the intent of meeting as many people as possible, seeing as many places as I can, and soaking in everything I have learned.

Here is a bit of advice I have collected over the past few weeks for the next round of JSB students. While it is important to make friends in the palace, it’s a really good idea to get out and meet the locals of Ariccia, Albano, and other surrounding cities. These people find us just as interesting as we find them. They desire to speak to us and learn about why we are here, just as much as we want to hear about their lives. If you are trying to learn their native language then speak to them in Italian, regardless of whether they speak English. Also, you don’t have to go to a huge city like Rome to meet locals. They are right outside your front door. As for Netflix: don’t do it. Watching the occasional episode or two when you need a break is completely acceptable, however, netflix and movies are things you can do from anywhere in the world. You can’t hang out in a small Italian town on the outskirts of Rome from just anywhere.

I want to look back and make sure I have taken advantage of every opportunity that has been offered to me. So, when thinking about what you want to do, don’t wait for things to happen. Break out of the Palace and create your own fairytale.

A night in Rome with friends from Albano

A night in Rome with friends from Albano

A Night at the Opera

Last night we went to an Italian opera and I’m still in awe. Having been to several shows on Broadway, including Les Miserables, I knew vaguely what to expect: lots of music, an enticing storyline, etc. However, I wasn’t expecting how emotional I could get over words that I didn’t even understand. Of course there were subtitles, but I found myself not even reading them and just getting lost in the performance. The sets, the lights, the voices, it was indescribable. It was impossible not to get emotional and I now fully understand the reaction Julia Roberts’ character in Pretty Woman had.

It was also the first night that everyone got to dress up and just relax all together as a group and it was much needed. We’ve all been so busy with our own trips and it was nice to do such a classic Italian thing with our little Italian family. The night didn’t feel like a field trip but like a group of friends that all wanted to get together and do something fun. I keep feeling this sense of family when I’m doing random things like cooking dinner or doing homework, but it’s never felt stronger than it did last night. We all wanted pictures with each other because we all knew these would be moments we would want to remember. We all talked the whole way home on the bus because we were all just putting off such great vibes. It was an amazing night, one that I know I’ll cherish forever!

A few of us before the show

A few of us before the show

Bailey Schaff

High Tide in Venice

St. Mark's Square flooded

St. Mark’s Square flooded

I had heard through the grapevine that Venice is “sinking”, but until my personal travel to Venice over midterm break I thought this was only myth. The troubles of living in a city built over water didn’t fully occur to me until visiting Venice myself and walking on the sidewalks as the water from the Grand Canal began to cover them.

Upon arrival to our Bed & Breakfast the first night in Venice, the owner warned us that we may be woken up by alarms the next morning. He said we shouldn’t be worried because they aren’t bomb alarms, “they’re high tide alarms.” Fall is the worst season in Venice for flooding and rain.

We didn’t let the impending high tide affect our plans and we got an early start the next morning, before any alarms, and visited St. Mark’s Basilica. It was raining as we walked from Rialto Bridge to St. Peter’s Square, but there was no flooding yet. When we entered St. Mark’s Basilica it only looked like a dreary day, but when we exited, St. Mark’s Square was covered by water. The flooding ranged anywhere from a few inches to over a foot, and for Venetians this is normal! They deal with flooding from the Grand Canal as part of their daily lives.

I got the chance to talk to a handful of Venetian locals, mostly shop owners, and I was shocked by how much they deal with flooding. They told me that water comes into their stores, homes and museums as high as several feet. Several Venetians showed me water damage on their walls. As I was looking through a Murano Glass shop, the owner began moving the expensive glass artwork to the back of the store, preparing for the water.

As much as I would have loved to enjoy a sunny day in Venice on a gondola, seeing Venice in this state opened my eyes to an aspect of life in Venice that not every tourist gets to see. I left with completely new knowledge of a foreign city that I had experienced firsthand. I look forward to returning to Venice next week with the JSB Program, and I am hopeful that this time I won’t need trash bags as shoes!

Ciao, Ali Klebous

Rome Sweet Rome

For Midterm Break, my mom had been unsure of whether she was going to be able to make the trip to visit me in Italy while she had the chance. Fortunately, her decision became final a short month before. Neither of us had much time to actually plan out days in each city we were going to visit, but the one thing she told me was, “I want plenty of time to see everything you have gotten to see in Rome.” With as much time as our class has spent in Rome, I was going to make sure we made this part of the trip her favorite. I began planning the two days that we would have here to ensure that we got to visit each landmark, wine and dine in local spots, and most of all enjoy everything a city so near to me has to offer.

When my mom arrived, we travelled to other cities first, but still the number one thing on her mind was visiting Roma. When we arrived at Termini, she was already blown away by the public transportation system here, specifically how efficient and easy it makes traveling. As we started our Grand Tour of Rome, our first stop was the Trevi Fountain since it was near our hotel. When we arrived, the number of visitors trying to see the same beautiful piece of art as us was actually overwhelming. As I started giving her the fun facts about it, I was overwhelmed as well. It was crazy to hear myself give her over fifteen facts that I have learned during my time in Ariccia. The same thing happened when we visited our next stop, the Pantheon. I had no clue how much information I had actually absorbed on those long, hot field trip days.

After our last stop, my mom was thrilled; I had accomplished taking her to every sight she had wanted to see and then some. She was even more excited that she had her own personal tour guide. At dinner, sitting with a view of the Colosseum, she asked me, “Do you think you will ever make Rome your ‘Home Sweet Home,’ so I can come visit here more often?”


My mom and me preparing to throw a coin into the Trevi Fountain after she learned all the facts

Alexandra Howard