For our third travel break, most of us decided to go to Rome, since we were meeting everyone there on the last night and flying back to America from Rome. We knew that there would be a lot to see there, so we decided to leave early on Monday and spend all day Tuesday and Wednesday in the center of Rome where all the attractions were. When we arrived in Rome on Monday afternoon, we decided to relax a little bit from our traveling, and then headed to Hard Rock for dinner. It was nice to eat a hamburger and ranch dressing, considering we had been eating pasta and pizza for 4 weeks. I also discovered while abroad that Italy doesn’t have ranch dressing – anywhere – except for Hard Rock, so I was very excited about that! After dinner, we decided to call it a night since we had an early and busy day the next morning.
Tuesday morning, we woke up early because we had a tour scheduled for the Vatican, Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter’s Basilica at 9:00. We took the very crowded metro to Enjoy Rome, which is who our tour was scheduled through. We got our headsets and set off with our tour guide to the Vatican museum first. I was really glad that we got a tour guide, otherwise I wouldn’t have known where to go first or what everything was. My favorite part of the tour was St. Peter’s Basilica. Inside, it was filled with sculptures, marble, paintings, frescos, and gold covered from floor to ceiling. There was so much intricate detail on every inch of the basilica that it was almost overwhelming, but amazingly beautiful at the same time. It kind of just takes your breath away when you walk in. After our tour, we decided to try to walk back to our hotel from the Vatican City. It was very hot, and I think we must have overestimated ourselves because by the end of the day we were just dying to get back to the hotel and take a shower. The walk was nice though because we saw a few landmarks on the way – like the Spanish Steps, Trajan’s Column, and the Theater – so it was definitely worth it.
Wednesday, we had another busy day in Rome, starting with the Colosseum. I think this was my favorite attraction while in Rome – it was just so powerful and beautiful – even in its ruins. It was so weird to think that Roman men used to go into the Colosseum to fight each other and animals to the death – as entertainment for the people! I could not even imagine something happening like that today. It is a good thing human and animal rights have evolved into what they are today! After touring the Colosseum, we took a break for lunch, then toured the Roman Ruins. It was cool walking the same streets that the Romans used to walk, and imagine what it looked like before the city was in ruins. It was interesting to see how some buildings stood up better than others – like the town hall and the church. After the Ruins, we decided to go back and shower and get ready for one of our last dinners in Italy. We found a nice restaurant right next to the Trevi Fountain, and went to see it before dinner when it was light outside, and then after again when it was dark and all lit up. It was beautiful both times, but even more magical at night. The lighting really enhanced the carvings and sculptures of the fountain and made the water sparkle.
Thursday, we decided to get up early and take a taxi to the beach (where we would be spending our last night all together with the group). We were very glad we got a taxi, because we heard horror stories from some of the other girls who took the metro and ended up having to walk a few miles in the heat. We arrived at the hotel, dropped off our bags, grabbed a quick lunch, then headed out onto the beach. It was a black sand beach which made it even hotter then it was, and the ocean was filled with rocks so it as hard to walk in the water, but it was beautiful and relaxing getting to just sit on the beach and people watch (even though we all got a little burnt by the end of the day). That night, we met up with everyone from the program for dinner and had a great time on our last night together in Italy. It was pretty bittersweet to me, because although I was anxious to get home, I knew I would miss all the girls and the friendships I made here (and the gelato). It was sad when we all had to go our separate ways the next morning to the airport, but I was glad I was with the majority of the group for our flight home, so I didn’t have to say goodbye too soon. We also found out while boarding the plane in Rome that the luggage people were on strike – so we wouldn’t be getting our luggage when we arrived back in the U.S. We were all pretty upset about this news, and were just anxious to find out when we would be getting our luggage. It’s been a week now, and still no bags, so fingers crossed they arrive soon!