La Dolce Vita!

Wow! The fourth week has just ended, and I am heading into week five of my JSB study abroad experience. As I sit here and reflect the past few weeks, I’m not surprised when I say that I am experiencing a ‘sweet life.’

This past weekend I spent my time in Stockholm, Sweden with a few other girls. We got up early Friday morning and caught a flight that brought us to the beautiful city. We spent the day walking around, shopping, eating some great food, and getting to know the Swedish city. We grabbed a few cocktails and appetizers that night and headed to bed.

Saturday morning, we got up and went straight to the ABBA museum. When I say it was some of the most fun I’ve had since being on the Joseph S. Bruno Study Abroad experience, I mean it. Reilly and I sang karaoke to “Honey, Honey” and then got on stage to sing “Dancing Queen” with a simulation of ABBA. I might have looked silly, but I embraced and enjoyed every second.

Later that afternoon, Annika and I went into Gomla Stan, which is old town Stockholm, and each ordered a Belgian waffle with a scoop of chocolate ice cream and Nutella drizzled on top. It might have been the best thing I have ever eaten, and it definitely put me in a food coma. I don’t even want to think about the number of calories I consumed. I keep reminding myself that calories don’t count since I am on vacation, right?

All in all, I loved Stockholm. It was clean, beautiful, and the people were so friendly. I would love to return and spend more time there in the future. If there was even the slightest of interests, I would recommend Stockholm to anyone. I’m looking forward to the remaining weeks ahead. I know they are going to go by in the blink of an eye. I’m ready to take on and experience every second of the weeks I have left.

Ciao Ciao!

Meredith Taylor

The Belgian waffles Annika and I devoured

Bury Me in Positano

This past weekend we visited Positano, which essentially is a small town carved into the side of a cliff off of the Amalfi Coast. Of all the places I have been, Positano is the most captivating and breathtaking. The moment when I first saw the views from the winding streets above the water struck me as nothing else has before. I was instantly in love with Positano and everything it had to offer.

As a group, we were fortunate enough to stay together in a beachfront villa that was quaintly positioned between two restaurants. We had our own private beach with views of the cliffside. The greatest part about Positano was waking up with everyone enthusiastically throwing on swimsuits and sunscreen and heading out to relax for the entire day. We started each day with a cappuccino and a croissant and ended it with a nice glass of wine.

Reilly and me on the beach

On Saturday we took two private boats on tours of the coast and oh my goodness; it will change your life. From jumping out of the boat into the crisp, salty water, to snorkeling in caves, and eating gelato in Amalfi, it was the time of my life. The weekend in Positano was a time to bond and get to know everyone else better, and it has enriched this next week already.

The Positano field trip was not included in the program cost, but if offered the opportunity to go, take it because it is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The trip was set up for me, which made planning very easy, but we made sure to book the boat trip well in advance of going.

The photo I have chosen is of Reilly and me standing on the beach with Positano in the background. To me, this represents the essence of Positano because the photo is almost unreal and Positano feels just like a dream. I tried to take advantage of every moment I had in Positano because I never wanted to leave. It is the most amazing place in the world.

Julia Roddam

Wandering in Rome

This is a picture of my first time in Rome on the Joseph S. Bruno Auburn Abroad in Italy Program. I learned a lot on this field trip . I indulged in many delicious foods, which was fair since life if about balance and I walked 12 miles that day.

Rome’s vast size requires to have somewhat of a plan before coming it is imporant  in order to avoid blood stained socks from blisters. However, I chose to wander aimlessly in Rome with my friends and the blisters and dirty socks were worth it. Every street is a new and exciting surprise, lined with shops on uneven cobblestoned with hurried locals shopping and yelling greetings through open doorways. It is truly a beautiful energetic city.

I chose this picture of myself on a random moped because it is a great representation of this program and why I came. I came to Italy to experience many random places and travel in new, fun ways. Also, the stickers on the moped had locations all over it and I hope to visit many places. So far, I have been to Budapest, Hungary and Positano, Italy, and both were amazing.

Another significant symbol is the Gelato cone. It has truly become a part of my everyday life, and I know already I will miss it dearly when I go back to Georgia in November. So, for now while I am abroad, on my many future trips to Rome, I will continue to be on the on the hunt to discover all the pizza and gelato I can handle.

-Anna Caitlyn Camp

I’m On Top of the World

Coming on this program has been the best, hardest, most challenging thing that I have ever done! I have only been in Italy for three weeks, but I feel like I have lived here my entire life. This past week was the longest week that we have had so far, but it has really brought us all so much closer together. We started the week with a class-filled day with lectures in Survival Italian, Cooking with Mary Lou (the sweetest, most adorable woman I have ever met), and Wine History with Maurizio followed by a wine tasting. The wine tasting was a very unique experience for me because I enjoy wine, and I was able to try wines that I would probably never have bought on my own! The next day was filled with more classes about the Mediterranean Diet and a tour of the Palazzo Chigi.

It never ceases to amaze me how beautiful our home in Ariccia is. With all of the ornate, original decorations and furniture, I truly feel like I have stepped back into the 16th century.  Our final class day this week was about Greek Mythology, Michelangelo, and a brief summary of our field trip the following day to Pompeii and Mount Vesuvius.

Thursday was an early day, with our bus leaving at 6:30 a.m. Fortunately our three-hour bus ride seemed like five minutes due to a dance party with Reilly. We arrived at Mount Vesuvius and I was honestly prepared for what I thought would be the worst part of my day; however, I was pleasantly surprised by the easiness of the hike and the breathtaking views of Naples, Capri, and the bay. I did take a tumble at the top of the mountain, inches away from the edge, but I made it out with just a few scrapes and bruises. We then went to Pompeii and had a sweet tour guide named Stefano who showed us around the ruins for the next few hours before leaving for Positano!

Vesuvius was easily one of my favorite things this week, and I have really enjoyed being with my fellow Chigi Babies! I have met some amazing people and I am so blessed to be able to travel throughout Europe with them! Being on this program has pushed me in so many ways to continually step out of my comfort zone, and I am thankful I get to do it with some amazing friends.

Annika and me at the top of Mount Vesuvius

Sarah Benton

Life in Exclamation Points

Wow!!! These past few weeks have been a whirlwind. Comfort zones are being escaped, limits are being pushed, and new things are endeavored every day. We have been attempting to use some recently learned Italian words (even when it feels a little uncomfortable), pushing our limits on sleep (only to squeeze in as many experiences as possible), and trying all kinds of new food (which has turned out very well and also gone very wrong). I think I speak for all of us Chigi Babies when I say that this experience has been nothing short of extraordinary.

Of course, life will never be perfect. It is definitely easier to prepare yourself for the fun adventures, and forget to think about the challenges that come along with studying abroad; however, the people that I have the incredible opportunity to do life with this semester are the ones who make even the challenges something worth remembering – like celebrating with you after the small victory of successfully ordering Italian gelato despite the inevitable language barriers. But in the midst of the whirlwind of “new” and “firsts,” confidence in capabilities is increasing, zest for life is ever-growing, and lifelong friendships are being formed.

This past weekend exemplified all of this as some friends and I embarked on our first weekend getaway. We decided to take a day trip to the beach. After some last minute planning, getting lost on the way to the bus, and hopping off the bus a stop too early, we ended up on a beautiful beach soaking up perfect weather with amazing company. This weekend is just one of the many experiences these past few weeks that have resulted in some realizations:

  1. I don’t have to be an experienced traveler to maneuver around a new town and utilize public transportation.
  2. Everything doesn’t have to go “right” for me to have one of the BEST days!
  3. Sometimes the little obstacles are what generate the most growth, foster the best friendships, and make for the best stories.

Overall, this semester abroad is an opportunity to take the famous saying “Carpe Diem” (“seize the day”) and live it out to the extreme! This isn’t limited to the fun and exciting weekend trips that we have the opportunity to plan; rather, it’s fully investing in the seemingly mundane parts of day-to-day life like getting up an hour early to enjoy company over a cappuccino or staying up that extra hour to plan trips, watch a movie, or even learn a dance with friends. It’s learning to say no to any negativity and YES to as many opportunities as possible!

A successful day trip to the Beach!

Arrivederci (goodbye),

Reilly Bryant


I Believe in Ariccia and Love It

Ariccia, Italy is the town we are staying in for the duration of this program. Ariccia is famous for a type of boneless-tender-roasted-pork called porchetta. Our first weekend here, the town hosted the annual Porchetta Festival. The festival is a 3-day-long event celebrating a sense of community here in Ariccia. The town square is filled with different food carts, jewelry stands, and carnival games.  Families and couples from all over Italy travel to Ariccia on this weekend to taste the delicious porchetta and experience the charm of the town.

On the second night of the festival, I left the palace with my friend, Stephanie, to explore all that this celebration had to offer. Walking down the main road alone was absolutely thrilling! The beauty of all the different smells, sounds, and sights surrounding us was almost overwhelming. Stephanie and I decide to walk towards the ‘look-out point’ at the end of the main road in Ariccia. At the end of the road there was a band playing and singing incredible Italian music! In front of their stage, people were happily dancing together. It was a lot like an American wedding! It was obvious that these people did not all know each other; they were simply all Italian, filled with joy, and wanted to move with the music!

Looking closer at the dance floor, I discovered a group of four older women doing a sort of ‘line dance’ together. I watched them for a few moments and then decided to go join! My dancing was not perfect, I could not understand the Italian words in the song, and I knew I stuck out like a sore thumb. However, this was the moment I understood why I am here. ‘Human Development and Family Studies,’ (HDFS, my major) does not seem to mean a whole lot to the Italian people who have asked me what I study. Perhaps this is because the people of Italy embody what HDFS is at the very core of who they are. The Italians are a people of joy, community, and celebration – and I cannot tell you how thankful I am to be here experiencing their beautiful culture.

When Stephanie and I began our walk back to the palace, we turned toward the town and saw the breath-taking sunset taking place behind us. Words fail when attempting to describe the beauty of sunsets here in Ariccia. What I can tell you is this: seeing the gorgeous, rich ‘War Eagle’ orange color the entire sky embodies just before the sun dips below sea level explains why Auburn University sends students like me here. I have been saying “I believe in Auburn and love it!” for years, but after only 2 weeks in Italy, I can now tell you that I believe in Ariccia and love it, also.

Grazie mille (thank you so much),

This photo captures part of the Porchetta Festival with the Chigi Palace in the background.

Katharina Smith

The Chigi Classroom

It is crazy to think that we’ve been living at the palace for a full week! The time spent here so far has been so surreal. This week has been full of field trips, late nights planning trips, early morning cappuccino runs and now, classes. Last week was an orientation to what this semester is going to look like.

This week we started with our first class of Survival Italian Lessons taught by Sandra. We will be meeting with her twice a week for the next four weeks. Due to the limited time, Sandra will be teaching us Italian skills that will help with basic Italian living. These basic skills include:

  • Meeting and greeting people
  • Requests at cafes, restaurants, stores of all kind
  • Travelling and asking directions
  • Shopping any paying for items
  • Eating at restaurants
  • Visiting Italian homes
  • The related vocabulary to these topics.

We have only had two classes and have already learned how to greet people and ask directions. These phrases will be super helpful for the coming weeks.

In addition, we have started cooking classes with Mary Lou, the sweetest lady. Throughout the semester she will come give lessons on Italian food – pasta, vegetable, and meat dishes and dessert! The group is separated into two groups and will rotate taking turns each time Mary Lou visits.

Mary Lou prepping the sauce for our lunch!

Speaking on behalf of the Chigi Babies, I think it is safe to say that we have learned so much about the Italian lifestyle and culture within one week. This past week has been an experience of a lifetime so far, and I cannot wait for the next 11 weeks here.

Ciao, Belli (Bye, Beauties)!

Annie Finan


Exploring Our New Home

Buonasera (good afternoon) from Ariccia, Italy!

The Chigi Babies are officially halfway through our second week here at the Chigi Palace in Ariccia, and we are finally settling into a semi-normal routine, or as normal of a routine that we can get into, being in a foreign country and all. There aren’t enough adjectives to describe how breathtakingly beautiful the town of Ariccia is. On our first evening here we took a walking tour of the town, and as Maurizio, our Ariccia-born Resident Director, guided us around, it was very clear his love and passion lies in this historic city. As the tour ended so did our first day here, and we all watched our new town turn a soft pink, as the sun began to set over Ariccia.

One of my favorite parts about Ariccia is how fresh all the produce is here. Being a vegan, I was nervous to venture into a country famous for it’s meats and cheeses, but thankfully it has been incredibly easy and cheap to find the freshest veggies and fruits I have ever eaten. Every Monday there is a market, with booths set up, where locals sell fruits and vegetables straight from the valley in Ariccia, including mangos, giant sweet peppers, grapes, tomatoes, carrots, apples, and more! There are also booths that sell clothes and other reasonably priced goods.

Albano, the town adjacent to Ariccia, has a restaurant named Fustock Birreria, and it has quickly become one of our favorite go-to pizza spots. The menu even has pizza marinara, so the vegano (vegan) can eat too! I am excited to continue exploring all of the various restaurants and shops that Ariccia and Albano have to offer over the upcoming weeks.

Last night a couple of us were looking at what the next ten and a half weeks are going to bring, and we realized just how fast this all is going to fly by, so to my fellow Chigi Babies, as we explore and uncover all the wonders of Italy and its neighboring countries, lets make these next few months absolutely unforgettable, and to the readers at home, I hope you all enjoy experiencing Europe through our words and pictures!

Arrivederci (goodbye) for now!

Rebecca Price

Our First Sunset in Ariccia!


Dear Chigi Babies

I signed up for the Joseph S. Bruno program my freshman year and I can’t believe the time has finally come to spend three months in Italy! We are starting our second week in Ariccia and I have loved getting familiar with all that this quaint town has to offer.

Our first night in the palace we read letters from last semester’s students addressed to us, the “Chigi Babies.” They were filled with advice, encouragement, and a glimpse of all that is to come. It didn’t take long to see their words manifest into our reality. From going to Rita’s before our first day of class and drinking cappuccinos in the square to trying to soak up all of Cinzia’s Italian wisdom on our tours around town, I think we can all say that this semester is going to be one to remember!

On Friday we ventured outside of Ariccia city limits to Rome for a full day of sightseeing. We saw the ancient Roman Forum, the Colosseum, Capitoline Hill, the Vittorio Emanuele Monument, the Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, Via Condotti, Antico Caffè Greco, and the Spanish Steps! In between all of our sightseeing we walked the streets of Rome (about 11 miles worth). Most of us headed back to Rome on Sunday to do more sightseeing and complete our first assignment, a scavenger hunt around Rome!

To end our first week in Ariccia, the porchetta festival took place Friday to Sunday. Porchetta is a type of pork that Ariccia is known for. The festival had the streets and bridge into Ariccia lined with tents selling candy, food, drinks, toys, and clothes. There was also live music playing late into the night. I couldn’t have asked for a better week to start out our semester in Italy!

Ciao Ciao!

Annika Kieper

The first stop on our tour of Rome, the ancient Roman Forum!