Ciao from Ariccia, Italy!
I am entering my third week in Italy, and it still feels like a dream. The first two weeks of this program have been filled with so many sites, so much food, and a whole lot of fun. If I named all of the things we have done so far, I would be here for hours writing this post!
I will say my absolute favorite place we visited was St. Peter’s Basilica. I was absolutely awestruck by his amazing church. My mom and my grandparents have talked about this place for years, and I never expected to feel what I felt when I walked in. It is so large, but not at all overwhelming. Our tour guide, Francesca, described the church as “welcoming” despite how massive it actually is. I never once felt incredibly small inside the church, even though the letters around the top of the dome are actually seven feet tall! We even got to go below the basilica and catch a glimpse of the disciple Peter’s bones in the midst of the ancient underground necropolis. Such an incredible experience that I will never forget.
Another incredible experience here in Italy is every single meal. Sure, there are many things about dining in Italy that I do not love (like not being able to split the checks, water is actually expensive, and a good burger is hard to find), but if those are my only complaints, then I would say I am doing just fine! Italians take their meals slow. They savor the time they have with their food and each other. I am learning a lot from the culture surrounding food here; it is meant to be shared, savored, and enjoyed. It is a refreshing change from the fast-paced life in America.
On top of all of the amazing tours we take as a group (we have gone to Rome a few times and visited all the cities surrounding Ariccia in Castelli Romani), we also had free weekends the past two weekends! Last weekend, all 20 of us girls decided to go to Rome and familiarize ourselves with the city on our own. This weekend, we went many different places across Europe. Some girls went to Switzerland, some went to Austria, others to Belgium, and I went to Paris! We got to take the skills we have learned the past two weeks and practice them on our own in an entirely different country.
I am so looking forward to the upcoming tours, field trips, meals, free weekends, and countless memories to be made in the next ten weeks!