Taking It All In

It has been three weeks since I stepped off the plane in Fiumicino, eager to explore Italy and immerse myself in the culture. I had a list of everything I wanted to see and places I wanted to visit, and I was determined to check off every single item by the time I leave.

To be honest, I expected to be going into Rome every week and having more of a big city, touristy experience. Now, as I have only been into Rome twice, I am surprisingly not upset. I have fallen in love with the small city of Ariccia. I have decided that, since I am here for less than three months, it is crucial to take in every single moment. I have made a point to pause and appreciate all that this city holds. From pizza and sunsets with new friends to pistachio gelato at Bamby, this place and its people are some of the best life has to offer.

Although I have been here a short time, Ariccia and the JSB program have taught me the importance of soaking in the world around me. They have taught me to take every opportunity that I can get and to not waste a second here. They have even made me a morning person which I would have never expected. I cannot resist waking up for a cappuccino and pastry from our new friends at Antico’s, sitting outside the little cafe and soaking in the charming city of Ariccia.

I also have found myself taking in the long train and bus rides. As tempting as it is to just watch TikTok or take a nap during these moments, I know that I would be missing the sights surrounding me. I have even made a Spotify playlist for times like these to help me appreciate this country. There is nothing like staring out a window and listening to Frank Sinatra as I pass by endless numbers of vineyards and ancient aqueducts.

So no, I am not upset that I have yet to visit the Vatican or go to the Gucci store in Rome, because I have all of these little moments that I will cherish forever.

I am beyond grateful that Ariccia has shown me how to appreciate every second I get here and the beauties that this country offers.


Mary Haden Pickel

Watching my first Ariccia sunset with some new friends

Lessons from Ariccia

It’s been a little over a week since I arrived at the Chigi Palace in Ariccia, Italy. Upon arrival, I was excited and expectant of what the semester would bring, but I can’t pretend that I wasn’t nervous. Moving to a new city across the world for the summer with people I don’t know is something I never thought I would do, but here I am. 

What I’ve come to realize during my short time here so far is that the town of Ariccia is incredibly welcoming. When five of us go into the small shop next door to stumble our way through ordering sandwiches, the employees are patient and kind. When we trip over our words ordering cappuccinos at the café down the street, the shop owner teaches and explains words and phrases to us. The people here are friendly, the pace of the lifestyle is slower, and it has already been a breath of fresh air to me. I am a very schedule-oriented person. I always have to know what is coming up next, what I will be doing for the next meal, what I’m wearing the next day, etc. The first time I sat at lunch for over two hours, I found myself antsy and thinking about what I could be doing and what I should be filling my time with. I am beginning to realize that slowing down and simply existing is what Ariccia is all about, and that is a lesson that I can learn this summer. I am expectant of what the rest of this summer will bring and am so thankful for this opportunity.


Wynne Watts

Me at the Trevi Fountain in Rome! So beautiful!