Monthly Archives: September 2010

Making the Most of Roman Weekends


Fourth weekend in Rome and I think we have the hang of it so far!

Friday, I must admit, started off with an American breakfast. Yes, we went out and bought bread, eggs, and bacon, which led to a pretty amazing breakfast. I do love cornetto’s but I have been craving a big breakfast to start my day off for a while now. After a great breakfast we hopped on the 23 bus route towards the colosseum and forum for some sight seeing. My Portuguese passport came in handy at the colosseum because it is free to get in if you have european citizenship! Yay for saving 17 euro. Sightseeing was fun, but there were too many tourists and the crowds were overwhelming. We made our way down Via del Corso for some window shopping and ended up in Piazza del Popolo. Siesta time came next, because when in Rome, do as the Romans do . That night we made our way over to our favorite restaurant near Piazza Navona, Pizzeria da Baffetto. The line was a bit long, but so worth the wait. After a long dinner of thin crust pizza and wine we made our way home for  some rest because Saturday was another day of exploring!

Saturday morning we woke up and ventured over to the Jewish Ghetto, an island in between the Tiber River with small windy streets and the best homemade Jewish food you can find in Rome. We stumbled upon an ancient art book store with tons of bizarre treasures and old prints. Next to this store, was an antique photo store with thousands of photos in Rome from the 1920’s to present time. We made our way out of the Jewish Ghetto and walked down onto the Tiber River where we sat for a few hours watching boats and runners go by. Anticipating another dinner at Baffetto’s we left the Tiber and headed over for another night of amazing pizza, I’m telling you, it doesn’t get old. As we approached the restaurant we saw a line of at least an hour and a half wait. Baffetto, the owner, then saw us and came over to greet us asking how many people we had. “Otto!” we said, and he immediately pulled us out of line and gave us VIP Baffetto seats upstairs with all the local Italians. We spent the next three hours chowing down on the best pizza in Rome and attempting to speak Italian with the locals who loved that we were upstairs and a part of their group. Full and ready for bed, we caught the 23 bus back home for a good nights rest… Sunday was the flea market.

You must be prompt to attend the flea market, so Sunday morning we woke up at 7:30 am and made our way to Porta Portese. The flea market is never ending. Tents go on for a couple miles where vendors barter with customers and piles of clothes and shoes go for 50 cents. You can find anything and everything at this place. I will definitely be making this a weekly thing. Make sure you get there at 8am promptly because by 10am it is so packed it’s hard to walk through the crowds of people. Mixed with tourists and local Italians, the flea market is the place to find vintage, original and funky items. I spent 7 euro and found some treasures; real leather sandals made in Italy, a South African World Cup Rugby jersey, a bracelet, and a jacket made in Italy.

All and all this weekend was great and I enjoyed learning more about Rome. This city has so much to offer, even after 2 semesters here I know I will still not have discovered everything there is to do. Another weekend is coming up, lets see what Rome brings!

That’s What You Get for Waking Up in VENICE!


Sarah: “Brian, I can’t wait to go to Oktoberfest in just a week!”
Brian, Sarah’s friend who was visiting Rome for a weekend: “Wait, in a week? But I booked the hotel for the first weekend of October… in three weeks!”
Sarah: “You have got to be kidding me.”
Stupid Brian: “Looks like you’re spending the weekend in Venice!”

Jaclyn and I on the famous Rialto bridge.

My sister Jaclyn and I had plans of going to Oktoberfest with a group of our friends in the Air Force who are stationed in Italy at Aviano Air Force Base, about 45 minutes north of Venice. The plan (made back in July, Brian) was to fly to Venice and explore for a day, to then pile into two cars and make the five hour drive up to Munich for the 200th anniversary of The “Wiesn,” as Oktoberfest is locally known.

So what do you do when you’ve just booked an extra trip to Venice in order to go to Oktoberfest during the third weekend instead of the first, but you still have a flight booked to Venice for the upcoming weekend?

Ooh, pick me! Pick me! I know!

You invite five of your friends to hop on a train and meet you in Venice, and make a weekend out of it. Which is exactly what we did.

So many masks to choose from!

Our friends looked miserable when we met them at the station in Venice Friday morning, likely from spending six hours on an overnight train, without any sleep. It was just around 9 a.m., and bonus, it was beginning to rain.

Jaclyn and I, feeling refreshed after falling asleep on a plane in Rome and waking up 45 minutes later in Venice, popped open the umbrellas we came prepared with, and tried to psych every one up with an overly exaggerated, “BENVENUTO A VENEZIA!” and a suggestion that we find a cappucino e cornetto bar, pronto.

It didn’t rain for very long, and since we had all dropped our bags off at a storage closet for the day, we now had happy friends. Every street in Venice is a post card, so we put away our maps and got ourselves completely lost weaving our way through the narrow and bustling streets. Bars and pizzerias and gelaterias are offset by Venetian masks and antique art and leather and designer stores, so we spent our day eating and shopping, shopping and eating. We emerged from one of the many narrow streets to Piazza San Marco, or Saint Mark’s Square, completely mesmerized at its beauty. I have a feeling I’ll be saying this a lot as I travel this semester, but this was my favorite view so far.

Piazza San Marco

We had lunch at Saint Mark’s and meandered our way to the train station to catch a train to a town north of Venice called Pordenone, where a very generous (OK, maybe not so stupid) Brian was letting us crash for the weekend.

Friday night we went to a wonderful and inexpensive local restaurant followed by a local bar called the White Harp. Saturday was spent relaxing and eating an American feast of a lunch (that we whipped up with food purchased from the Air Force base grocery store) and watching movies since it rained like crazy for most of the day. Late Saturday night we decided to get spontaneous and take a train to the neighboring town Sacile to meet up with some more of our Air Force friends and venture out in another small northern Italian town.

Rain or shine, Venice is an incredible city, and we were lucky enough to spend all of a sunny Sunday back in The Floating City, eating and shopping, shopping and eating, and getting lost wandering through more of the city’s post card streets.

Sacile, Italy

It would have been rather pricey to pile all eight of us into a gondola for a touristy ride through the canals, so we jumped on a Vaporetto (a smaller version of a ferry) and played make-believe. The water taxi dropped us off near a restaurant on the water just down from the famous Rialto bridge, and we enjoyed a lovely (and rather pricey) dinner to end the weekend.

Jaclyn and I gave our friends a pep talk for their six hour overnight train, likely again to deprive them of any semblance of sleep, and headed back to Pordenone with Brian for a full night of sleep before our flight back to Rome in the morning. Our friends made it back in time for their 8:30 a.m. class,  Jaclyn and I arrived Monday afternoon and were happy to be back in Rome Sweet Home.

So what if we didn’t get to go to Munich for the first weekend of Oktoberfest? Instead we’ll be going to the last weekend of the 200th anniversary.

Not-So-Stupid-After-All Brian was a great host to my sister and me, along with our five friends, throughout a fabulous weekend in Venezia, Pordenone and Sacile.

Our Venetian Vacation? Va bene!

Dinner on the water by the Rialto Bridge

MAXXI – Museo Nazionale delle Arti del XXI Secolo


Entrance to Maxxi, after passing the facade

Today with my contemporary art class, I visited Maxxi, Rome’s newest museum addition to the contemporary art world. Maxxi has been on my top 5 things to visit here in Rome so today was exciting for me. At Temple, my class and I hopped on the number 2 tram that took us right up Via Flaminia where we got off and walked only a block down Via Guido Reni, passing the Palazzetto dello Sport and  Stadio Flaminio on the way. My teacher then pointed us to Maxxi, conservatively hidden by its facade which blended in with the rest of the buildings on its street. This is something that was surprising to me because I was expecting the more common wow factor of contemporary art museums and their architecture, which stands out visibly from the street or a block away. I then learned from my teacher that part of the planning of Maxxi was to blend it in with the rest of the buildings on the street so that a passerby wouldn’t be able to notice it was there until walking up to the building and going around the side to the ‘front’ entrance. After passing by the facade, Zaha Hadid’s architecture is beautifully constructed in the 65,000 square foot building. Smooth concrete, winding black staircases, and white walls, Maxxi is constructed to hold its Italian art in a way that most contemporary museums don’t. It’s meant  to be winding and not in a chronological order. The rooms aren’t sectioned off by photography or paintings like most museums. The winding black staircases can be quite confusing and it is easy to find yourself a little lost, but still happy. The collection of Maxxi thus far is not that big so some time is spent walking up, down and winding around, which was ok with me.

This experience in Rome of going to contemporary museums with a small class of nine people is really interesting. I’m used to going to museums or galleries by myself or with my family, which I love, but it is a different experience going with a class and fellow students my age. Going with my class allows for discussions on certain works or exhibitions as a whole, and we discuss the museum itself; its placement, architecture, and planning.

The temporary exhibition which we spent the most time on was by the artist Gino DeDominicis. The exhibition is running until the 7th of November, so if you get a chance to swing by, do it! Gino was an Italian artist and very controversial  and radical for his time. Tall, handsome, and rarely reliable, Gino would say he was coming to public talks or prize acceptances, yet never show up. He would sell a work and then ask for it back, destroy it, and say he never sold it.  Or he would ask for the work back, say it wasn’t finished, change it completely and hand it back to the buyer as something completely different. At one point in his career he destroyed his entire archive, leaving nothing of him. He was an artist obsessed with immortality and his show at Maxxi displays that. Before entering Maxxi, a huge installation piece of his lays outside. I say lay because it is a skeleton of about 100 feet that encompasses Maxxi’s entrance. The collection consisted of a variety of his work. A theme was a balancing gold pencil, which is seen in many of his works as this question of immortality and immobility. I am no expert on Gino, and I do not want to portray the artist in any wrong way. I’m including this link to a 1990 New York Times article, which sums up Ginos work nicely.

The visit to Maxxi was great and I will definitely be going back while I’m still here in Rome.

Rome is my Classroom.


This semester in Rome I am taking four courses towards my fine art major and art history minor.  They are Survey of Printmaking Techniques, Baroque Art History, Early Renaissance Art History, and Introduction to Italian.  All of these classes are offered at Temple Main Campus in Philadelphia; however, I want to share with you what makes taking them here in Rome so unique.

Each week I attend these classes in the traditional classroom setting…but in addition to that time, I also get to continue my learning out in the world that Rome offers me.  For example, in my Printmaking class all of my ideas for prints are inspired by the artwork of all the masters around me.  All I have to do is take my sketchbook and step outside, walk in any direction for less than a minute, and up pops a sculpture to sketch.  We also had a field trip to the Printmaking Cabinet in Rome where we saw firsthand some of the first presses used to make prints.  We were also treated to “Five hundred years of printmaking: from Andrea Mantegna to Max Klinger” where Professor Mario Teleri shared his knowledge of the collection of prints to the class.

For both of my art history courses I have class twice a week.  The first class is an hour and a half in the classroom where the professor shows us slides and gives us important vocabulary for our notes.  The next day we have on-site meetings where, for three hours, we get to go on location and see the artwork we are learning about (and much more) in the course.  Even though classes have only been in session for three weeks, I have already experienced and learned an enormous amount of information from being on-site.  For example, in my Baroque Art History class we went to the Galleria Doria Pamphilj museum to see a collection of work collected by the Pamphilj family.  We saw a painting by Guercino titled “Erminia Finds the Wounded Tancred” and it was breathtaking.  We also have visited some churches to see Carravagio’s work insitu (on the site that it was made for).  We began lecture at a church named Santa Maria del Popolo and saw the Martydrom of Saint Peter and Conversion of Saint Paul.  The second church, San Luigi dei Francesi, was home to Inspiration of Saint Matthew, Calling of Saint Matthew, and Martyrdom of Saint Matthew.  Finally, we visited Sant’ Agostino to see and learn about the Madonna of Loreto.

In my Early Renaissance class we started off week one with a visit to the Pantheon and Capitoline Museum.  At the museum we were given a fantastic view of the Roman Forum.  It was a great introduction to the course because we had to know what kind of art came before the time of the Early Renaissance in order to better understand what we would be learning.  The second week we met in a part of Rome called Trastevere where we visited two churches.  The first is named Santa Maria where we saw Early Christian mosaics displayed on the altar pieces.  The second church was Santa Cecilla which was home to the Gothic Art of Cavallini. We had a nun who let us into the private sanctuary where we had an intimate look at old frescoes that were fading away.  Just recently, we met on-site at the Vatican where we got to see Gothic and Renaissance painting in the Vatican Picture Gallery.

Finally, I have Italian class which meets four times a week for one hour each.  Although there have not been any on-site classes for Italian (we meet in the classroom everyday) I can still tell you how Rome is my classroom for this class.  As if it wasn’t obvious enough, everything I learn in class I get to use 24/7 in the city I’m living in!  Everywhere I look I see signs written in Italian, I here locals on the metro and bus talking Italian, and I attempt to use the phrases I’m learning about during my everyday activities of ordering food or asking for directions.

So there you have it.  Sure, you can take classes at Temple’s Main Campus in Philadelphia, but just think about the unique twist the course can get if you take it here at Temple Rome.  And these are only four of the many classes offered here….there are many other majors available.  So, what are you waiting for?  Apply to study abroad today!

Different Ways of Living in Rome.


Living abroad brings many changes for students, and I have experienced my share of them.  One of the hardest adjustments was getting used to living a new type of way.  “Home” as I knew it was going to be different for the next semester.  If you choose to study abroad at Temple Rome, there are three choices you have accommodations while abroad.

The first choice is renting an apartment on your own.  I know some students who are doing this and they all love it.  The one thing you have to be careful about, though, is what your sources are for finding the apartment while in the United States.  For example, Craigslist is probably not your safest option.  Three students are living in their own apartment just around the corner from the Residence and they found out about the apartment through a Temple housing website.  Their combined rent is the same price to live in the Residence, and split between three people, it saved them a lot of money.  However, they do have to pay for utilities each month, so in the end they will probably spend around the same.  for their housing.  Another group of students have an apartment that is literally three blocks from the Temple Rome building.  Their  neighborhood is very clean and favorable, and from what I have heard, they are in love with the location.

Another option students have is a homestay.  This is when you are assigned to live with an Italian in their home.  I have talked with two students who are enjoying their homestay experience so far here in Rome.  One student is housed with an elderly, widowed, Italian woman and he said he enjoys hearing about her life experiences during their dinners together.  Another student is living with an Italian mother and her two sons.  She said the experience is perfect for her, and she loves using her Italian to talk with them at dinner each night about the day.  If you choose to partake in a homestay it is best to be proficient at basic Italian.  The homestay option gives students the comforts of an Italian home and unique look into how other cultures live day-to-day.

The third option is to live in the Residence Medaglie d’Or, an apartment style complex houses Temple Rome students for the semester.  This is the option I can speak for, since it is the one I am doing.  Temple did a great job with selecting a clean and secure apartment complex for students.  It is located just a few blocks away from markets, stores, and the metro stop.  Also, it has some hotel-like services, like a maid, who cleans the floors, makes the beds, and cleans the bathroom everyday except Sunday.  The rent is added into the tuition bill for the semester and includes the maid service in addition to unlimited utilities like water and electricity, cable television, a laundry room, and wireless internet.  The only thing about living in the Residence is that you are surrounded by program participants 24/7 which may be a positive or negative aspect depending on the type of person you are.  There are, however, random Italian residents scattered throughout the buildings, but I have only run into them a couple times.

Well there you have it.  If you choose to study abroad with Temple Rome there are a few options to choose from for living abroad.  Just remember that where you live is only a small part of the experience…it’s what you do with the time outside in the city with the people and culture that makes up most of your experience.

Gagosian Gallery Opening – Franz West


It’s my duty and honor as an art history major and art lover to visit the major galleries and museums while here in Rome. What could be better than that?! Last night I had a life changing experience; a gallery opening for artist Franz West at the Gagosian Gallery Roma. To sum it up nicely, it was AWESOME. A stone throw away from the Spanish steps sits the beautifully architectured Gagosian Gallery, which anyone can spot from a couple streets away. I was lucky to have heard of the opening and have an invitation through my Galleries and Studios Contemporary Art class.

Before I get started about the opening, let me talk about the artist Franz West. I hadn’t heard of him before this week so it was nice to expand my horizons on a new artist. It goes without saying that he is a big deal, I mean, he is showing at the Gagosian Roma. An Austrian artist who now lives in Vienna, Franz West makes radical art through notions of moving figures and contorted body movements. Without reading about this, one wouldn’t get an idea of figures out of his work, but more of an abstract, contorted and wrapped, twisted sculpture piece that flows and balances in one continuous way.

Before the gallery opening we strolled over to see a temporary installation by Franz West that the Gagosian was able to achieve. I say the word achieve because Rome is a historical city and throughout the years contemporary art has been trying to makes its way in, and it’s doing a good job so far. This installation piece sits one block away from the Pantheon! Now that’s amazing. A radical contemporary art piece, having nothing to do with the site, sitting right in the middle of historic Rome… I like it. Good job Gagosian. It shows the power that Gagosian has and is able to pull off. The location of the gallery itself is also amazing. It isn’t an accident that  the Gagosian sits one block from the Trevi Fountain, off Via del Corso, and a couple doors down from Prada and Gucci. Enough said.

Ok, lets get back to the opening. So after seeing the installation piece we walked back over to Gagosian where we saw the creme de la creme group of people being dropped off by their drivers to attend the show. I felt a little under dressed in my sneaks and jeans standing next to a gorgeous Italian women in Pumps and a fabulous dress. Upon entering the gallery we took some information on the artist and the exhibit. We walked up the stairs into a great big circular room filled with 7 huge Franz West pieces. Paper mache sculptures at least 15 feet high with colored paint poured on top of them were balancing perfectly on little paint or mop buckets. Amazing, I loved it. I met a few fabulous people and chatted it up with them about the artist and about their lives as gallerists, dealers, and just Romans in general. Overall it was a GREAT night, I’m excited for more openings in the future. 🙂

Franz West Installation Piece

This isn't straight from Roma and my camera had just lost battery before the show, so here's an example of his work.

Rome is my Playground


In Philadelphia I tend to find myself bored and frustrated looking for things to do.  I usually end up going out to eat at the same old restaurants and overpaying to see movies.  This problem has not occurred at all since I’ve been in Rome.  There is so much to do to keep myself occupied.  Even going for a walk and randomly turning a corner or walking down an unknown road can lead to the greatest discoveries.

I love parks back home because of their serene beauty and calming effects.  There is a huge park here, the Villa Borghese, and it’s literally a 5 minute walk from Temple Rome.  It is also equipped with free Wi-Fi internet so it’s the perfect spot to relax and work on some homework.  It also has lots of sculptures, fountains, and recreation spots scattered throughout.  My personal favorite is a pond that is home to huge fish, and you can rent a paddle boat and go out into the middle of the water – this is on my to-do list.  Another recreational option is to rent surrey bikes with a group of friends and ride around the many winding paths of the park.

As I mentioned before, sometimes just walking around with friends and making random turns can bring about great discoveries.  This happened to my friends and I the other night when we stumbled across a Gelateria named Giolatta.  Gelato here is the Italian version of ice cream.  It’s so good and delicious.  Ice cream back home is my guilty pleasure, so you can imagine that every time I see a gelateria I feel the need to try it out.  Giolatta was hands down one of the best I’ve had so far here in Rome.  Another place we found and really like is called Old Bridge.  This one is on the cheaper side which makes me happy, and it’s only a short 10-15 minute walk from the Residence!

Another way that Rome is my playground is the fact that I get to go out to some of the world’s most popular destinations whenever I wish.  I can hop on the metro and be at the Coliseum in less than 15 minutes, and walk over to the forum in 5 minutes.  If I want to stop over at the Trevi Fountain, I can get off at the Spanish Step metro stop and walk down the street filled with shops and outdoor restaurants.  Maybe I want to walk along the Tiber River and take in the view of Saint Peter’s basilica while heading to the Pantheon.  There is so much here to explore and see which is why Rome has become my personal playground.  I don’t think you can ever get bored here.

Italian Culture in Many Forms


There is so much to do and take in here in Rome that it starts to feel overwhelming.  However, I keep reminding myself that I don’t have to do every single thing in one week because I’m here for 3 ½ months!  However, that hasn’t stopped me from having fun and going out to experience what Rome and the surrounding areas have to offer.  Temple has done a great job at organizing some unique events to help us all experience the Italian culture.

Mario Teleri, the printmaking professor, hosted an evening of Italian cooking – his other passion.  He provided a demo on how to make a sauce from scratch and provided everyone in attendance with a sampling.  He also provided everyone with a copy of his original recipes so we could experiment with cooking some true Italian recipes in our own apartments.

The Sunday before classes started we were treated to a special trip to the hill towns of Todi and Titignano in the Italian countryside.  Early in the morning, four buses greeted us near the Residence and we got on board for a two hour drive to Todi.  The scenery along the way was breathtaking with the many rolling hills, vineyards, and sunflower fields.  When we arrived at our first destination, Todi, we had to hike up a steep hill but the reward was an amazing view of the countryside.  We then had a couple hours to explore the small town that was once used for filming Romeo and Juliet.  After walking around with some friends it was time to head back to the bus to go to Titignano, where a traditional 13-course meal was awaiting us.

When we got to Titignano there were tables outside of the ancient castle with hor’dourves.  As I ate the delicious prelude of what was to come, I took in yet another breathtaking view of the countryside.  The lunch meal took about 3 hours to complete and consisted of so much food and wine.  It was truly a great cultural experience and a great way to end the week long orientation and prepare us for the first week of classes.

Even though classes have started, Temple is still organizing great events to immerse us into the culture of Rome.  Gianni, the student’s activities coordinator, hosted a tour of the University of Rome.  We not only got to see what an Italian university looks like but also heard the many ways that college education differs from the American system.  For example, it can take an Italian up to 20 years to complete their program because it’s done at their own pace, and they have to pass up to 30 oral exams in front of professors who question them about books that they have written.

Early on a Sunday morning we were treated to an 8 hour walk of 12 miles of the ancient Aurelian Wall in Rome.  This is the wall that used to confine the original city of Rome, and many parts of it are still standing today.  It was definitely a long and tiring day; however, how many people can say they walked around the historic perimeters of the ancient Roman city?!

Yet another event that took place was that we got to experience a ballet in the middle of the Roman forum.  How cool is it that I get to say my first ballet was in the middle of ancient ruins?  The show featured contemporary jazz music and professionally trained Italian dancers who moved with such grace and beauty.  It was definitely a memorable and fun experience.

Temple has done a great job at organizing events for us in and around Rome which allow us to have an enriching look into Italian culture.  There are many more events coming up over the course of the semester, so keep checking the Temple Rome blog to read all about them!

Life’s a Beach!


You know you’re in Rome when you can convince your friends to wake up at 6 a.m. on a Saturday after only three hours of sleep to go to the beach.

Asking people to take photos is another great way of practicing our Italian!

Those of us who are Temple students are spoiled by the ability to get to the Jersey Shore on weekends when the weather is nice, in just over an hour.

Here in Rome, we have the same luxury.  A metro ride to the Piramide station allows us to hop on a half hour train ride to Ostia Beach, not considered to be the nicest beaches near Rome, but hey, we’re used to the Jersey Shore.

We decided to get off at Christoforo Colombo, the last train stop for the beach.  It took us a mile- long walk along the road parallel to the beach to realize that we could have taken a bus to get to the free beaches.  Most of the beaches at Ostia are private, in that there is a fee associated with accessing that particular part of the beach.  It was completely worth the walk once we got there though.  A boardwalk with showers and changing rooms lead to the sparkling grayish black sand that leads to the calm bluish green waters of, what I believe, is the Tyrrhenian Sea.

We didn’t waste any time setting up our blankets and heading straight for the water.  Sunny and about 85 degrees, the beach became significantly more crowded as the day went on.  You also know you’re in Rome when your guy friends want to lie in the sun for more than just a few hours.  Then I realized we were on a topless beach.

Sitting there on the blankets with my friends, watching the sailboats out in the water, the kids playing in the sand, the couples walking by with killer tans and hearing conversations going on around us in Italian, it hit me that I was on a beach in Italy. A beach, in Italy!

We couldn't have asked for a more beautiful day on the beaches of Ostia.

Full of sun and swimming and laughing and fun, I’d say our first trip to the beach was a great success; and we practiced our Italian with anyone and everyone we met.  Not running into any Snookie look-a-likes or seeing any fist pumping, we’ve decided that Ostia totally beats the Jersey Shore.

One downside to Ostia is the constant bombardment of men walking around trying to bargain off hats, sunglasses, clothes, and jewelry.  Two of my girlfriends, however, got bathing suits from one of the many bathing suit stands for 3 euro each.  Ladies, you know that’s a deal you just can’t beat.

After the train ride back to Rome, we ran into a bunch of people from the Temple Rome program on the metro, sun-kissed in the face after a day at the beach as well.  We couldn’t have asked for a better day, and we were told that the weather is nice enough to continue going to the beach up until about the middle of October.  Here in Rome, we have luxury problems.

You can bet I had my camera ready for our day at beach.  Below are just a few of my favorite shots.

Entrance to one of the private Christoforo Colombo beaches.

This man and his little boy looked like they were having the time of their lives.

One of the many sailboats out in the water coming to shore.

A man rocks his daughter in the shade as she sleeps.

View of the beach.

The Roman Way of Life


So Sarah, what have you been doing during your time so far in Rome? I know, I know, everybody wants details.

My sister Jaclyn and I at the Colosseum the day we arrived in Rome.

Monday marked the beginning of week three in this 15-week semester.  It is a bit surprising to me that I am completely comfortable here, almost as if this truly were home.  The Temple Rome staff (both administrators and professors) is just absolutely amazing.  I feel fortunate to spend the next three months learning from such experienced and qualified individuals.  Temple really does it right.

The view of a beautiful sunset on the Vatican from my apartment terrace.

As I sit with my new friends in the architecture studio, looking out over the Tiber River through the beautiful fourth floor picture windows at the Temple Rome campus, I am a bit overwhelmed trying to pick just one thing to share with the blogosphere.  Tough life, huh?

Life here in Rome is epic!  From the history to the language to the culture to the food and so much more, I feel as though I have truly begun to embrace la dolce vita in every way.

I’ve been spending my first weeks in Rome fulfilling all the clichés I have ever heard about The Eternal City.  I am a total tourist, and I am totally OK with that.  For the next three months, this is my home.  Plenty of time to feel like a true Roman.

So I take pictures of everything.  My friends here are almost at the point of cringing every time they hear, “Alright now, everybody get together!” But one day they’ll thank me.  I take my camera with me everywhere- even when I go running.

Just about every morning I wake up before dawn when it is nice and cool outside and, like Forrest Gump, I just start running.  I run until I am completely lost, and then I keep running until I find my way back to my incredible apartment that my younger sister and I are living in just ten minutes up the road from the campus.  Not only is it a great way to get to know my way around, but it is also my way of working off all the pizza and pasta and gelato and wine I have been fully enjoying on a daily basis.

My friends and I getting ready to sit down after cooking our first dinner together of ravioli and garlic bread.

With mention of food, I have to say that I am definitely indulging.  Grocery shopping has been a great way for my sister and I to save euro, and we make meals fit for royalty; breakfasts of fresh eggs and fruits, and dinners of salads and pastas and bread and wine.  For lunch we might try a local panino (sandwhich) place or grab a slice of pizza.  We’ve been splurging on cappuccino and gelato, and we drink wine almost as much as we drink the incredible fresh water that comes straight from the fountains found all over the city.

The days here are long, and I am learning to accept that I will just have to catch up on sleep over winter break- there is way too much to see and do here to be sleeping more than six hours.  In between and after classes, and especially on the weekends, we (meaning my sister, myself, and my amazing new group of friends in the program) like to get out and explore Rome.  There’s nothing better than jumping on the Metro, getting off at any random stop, and getting lost in all the wonder this city has to offer.  I’d have to say the Vatican or the Colosseum at night are at the top on my list of favorite sites, and the old neighborhood of Trastevere is just fabulous.

Temple Rome students at the Residence Medaglie d'Oro before a night out in Rome.

I have never done so much walking in my life, but even when my legs are tired I still opt for going out at night to a new bar or club or piazza to experience the nightlife in Rome.  I haven’t yet had any encounters with overly friendly (read: creepy) Italian guys, and I certainly have seen my fair share of attractive guys.  Scratch that, more like attractive people!  It seems as if everyone here in Rome is beautiful!

I came here with practically no knowledge of the Italian language, and at first it was a bit intimidating.  It is no joke when people say that Italians speak with their hands, and I have found myself doing the same since the moment I arrived.  It is amazing what you can get by pointing at and motioning to things, and what people can understand by simply waving your hands around like a lunatic.  My knowledge is still limited, but after three weeks I am able to order food and drinks, hold a basic friendly conversation, and even ask for and give directions… all in Italian.  Imagine that!

I’ll admit that I had expectations of what my experience might be like living in Rome, but I have to say that the journey up to this point has far exceeded any expectation I could have ever dreamed of.

The way I see it, the Italian government is going to have to kick me out of this country when my visa eventually expires!