Living in Ariccia, Italy is a special experience because not only have I gotten a small Italian town experience, but I have also gotten to travel into Rome quite often! Just a train ride away sits an iconic city, filled to a blue-sky-brim with culture and excitement. In Rome, I have gotten to utilize the Italian customs and language skills that I have learned in Ariccia. After a weekend and many day and night trips into Rome with our group, the bustling city feels like home (especially after a trip like Spring Break where I traveled to 4 different countries!).
To tell somebody all of the remarkable experiences I have had in Rome would take up a paper as long as the climb up the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica. One of these experiences is my Practicum Day. First of all, I had a big self-confidence boost as I successfully traveled ALONE from Palazzo Chigi to Barberini Square in Rome! This was a coup for me, as I realized that the previous trips into Rome had built up awareness of the city. Beaming with pride (and Roman style cappuccino caffeine), I met Cinzia Bracalente to walk together to Valli Textile Store. I had the opportunity to meet with the store manager one-on-one (plus Cinzia to translate!) and ask every question I could think of. As a fashion design major, this time to learn about such a well-respected and long-standing fashion industry establishment was so valuable. I was so in awe as the manager unfurled fabric bolt after fabric bolt from the well-curated, Haute Couture merchandise assortment. The store is known for its high-quality, designer fabrics that it often sells to seamstresses, designers, or fashion labels in collaboration. The Haute Couture selection is unparalleled, with beaded laces from France and silks from Spain. They carry designer prints too, like those from Dolce and Gabbana or Dries Van Noten. Some of the intricate, hand-beaded lace from France, of the label Chanel, is around 600 euros per yard. Alta moda! The Bridal selection of white laces, satins, organzas, and macramé (to name a few) takes up a whole room and would have any future bride teary-eyed. Aside from admiring the beautiful textiles and gaining the manager’s insight on visualizing garments from a bolt of fabric, I also understood a business side of the fashion industry on which I have not yet gotten such an inside view. From merchandising decisions, customer service attitude, clientele at different locations, and personal advice, the discussion I had at Valli Textile Store taught me many new fashion industry tidbits.
I am so thankful to the Joseph S. Bruno Program for providing such an intimate and specific-to-me Practicum experience. I am so grateful, and I learned so much. Practicum Day is just one example of how this study abroad trip has fueled my passions by providing me with new and bespoke experiences. I never knew that Rome, a place so globally famous, could feel so personal. This may sound cheesy, but I now know why they call it “The Eternal City.” Rome will have an eternal place in my heart!