The Italians in general, and the Romans in particular, are renowned for their sense of style and chic, and street after street of fine shops of every description pay testimony to why this is the case. Their fashion sense is very simplistic but really nice. It’s like as if they do not even try to make an effort, but yet they look so well put together.
The Italians would say that they could spot Americans by the way they were dressed. During the time I was in Italy it was summer so it was reasonable to wear skirts and shorts. Italians did not care how hot it was, they still wore long jeans and long sleeved shirts, all back from head to toe. One day when I was on the train going to school I saw a young woman dressed in long jeans, a turtleneck, and a leather jacket. It was 80 degrees outside! In Italy if you showed too must skin you were viewed a certain way.
The roads in Italy are mostly cobblestones. I did not understand how the Italian women would wear six inch stilettos in cobblestones. I wore heels once in Italy and I never wore them again. I guess the women in Italy were used to the cobblestones, but I definitely was not.
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While we were living in Rome, we went to the beach several times. The beach was about an hour train road from where we lived. The beaches were gorgeous and the water was clear. The beaches in Italy are completely different than what I am used to seeing in the states. Apparently one thing we did not know is that in Italy the beaches are optional when it comes to bikini tops. When we first saw a woman not wearing bikini tops, I was in shock. I did not expect to see that since Italians are very conservative when it comes to their clothing. I guess when you are on the beach it’s a completely different scene.
Also, we could drink alcohol on the beach in Italy. Well we could basically drink alcoholic anywhere in Italy. At first I was like who would drink alcohol on the beach. But as I was looking around the beach I saw a lot of bottle of wine lying around. Italians do really love their wine!
Everywhere we went in Rome we would always see aqueducts. The aqueducts were water fountain that were build from the ground. There were water aqueducts in Rome every few blocks. I would always see Romans drink from the aqueducts but I found that weird because the fountains looked old and rusty. When I first drank out of it, the water was refreshing and just amazing. I could not believe how the aqueducts had the best water in Rome. When we first discovered the aqueducts we wouldn’t buy bottled water anymore, we would just take bottles and fill them in the aqueduct that was near the residence. We found the water in the aqueduct to be better than the bottle water we would buy. And it was also free so we couldn’t give that up.
The water aqueducts had a faucet. You would place your hand under the faucet to put pressure and then the water would come out of the hole on top of the faucet. At first it was embarrassing because we did not know how to drink from it. We would scoop our hands and get water and then drink it. But after we saw the Roman doing it, we figured it out! We were skeptical about drinking from the aqueducts but now that I am in the United States, I miss them. It was the best thing knowing that if we were thirsty there would be a water aqueduct in the street. It was the best thing ever!
The food in Italy was delicious. It’s not only the cuisine that is good, but also the fruits and vegetables that they have to offer. I have never had such delicious fruit and vegetables which smelled so fresh. Once when I washed tomatoes the smell of them was so strong that they stayed on my hand hours after washing my hands. It feels good to know that what I ate in Italy was organic and not filled with pesticides. Also there was a market a couple of blocks from the residence which is where we did most of our grocery shopping. The food there was delicious and cheap.
In order to save money, my roommates and I cooked most of our meals. Whenever we did go out to eat, we made sure to take full advantage of the Italian cuisine. Pasta and pizza were two of our favorite things to order. The pizza in Italy is completely different than the one we have here in the States. In Italy the crust of the pizza is really thin and not at all greasy. I used to eat a whole pie all at once. I loved it!
For one of the required trips for my History of Art in Rome we visited Villa d’Este. The palace, garden, and the water fountains were a remarkable aspect of the Villa D’Este. According to my Art History professor, Villa D’Este depicts the most remarkable and comprehensive illustrations of Renaissance culture. It is a unique example of an Italian 16th-century garden.
Villa D’Este was quite something to see. Its beautiful vistas coupled with the ornate and flowing fountains gave the villa a storybook beauty, like something you could only see through the pages of books. I really enjoyed the way art and nature mixed at Villa D’Este. It was so interesting to see how an artist could imitate nature in such a tangible way and not just on canvas, but in the little nooks of the villa. The fountains were magnificent, the water flowing made it seem so peaceful and serene. There are times when I found myself admiring the walls and ceilings of the villa. They were so intricately designed and stunningly painted that I found I could stand for hours just looking at them.
I remember a particular incident that occurred at the Villa d’Este. The art professors told us to gather around under this cave-looking fountain because something magical was going to happen. Well something magical did happen! The place we were standing under had sprinklers coming from all angles, and we all got soaked. Even though we got wet I could not stop laughing because I was expecting something nice to occur, I wasn’t expecting to get wet.
One of the many other monuments that I visited in Rome was the Colosseum. The Colosseum was an extraordinary visit. The Colosseum is over 2,000 years old, and in its time it housed over 50,000 spectators. Even though it is now in a state of advanced decay and virtually a ruin, it was still easy to imagine the old gladiatorial battles that took place here when the Romans were rulers of the world. All of this history went through my head as I stood there looking at one of the most historic things in Rome. A monument like the Colosseum is what I am used to seeing in pictures and not in real life. I was shocked by its beauty and how after all these years the Colosseum is still there for people to enjoy and get a sense of history from it.
When we first entered the Colosseum, the inside was a museum which showed the structure of the Colosseum. They also had pictures and sculptures as well. Then we walked towards the center of the Colosseum which you could see the area where the gladiatorial battles took place. As I was standing in the Colosseum it seemed unreal that such an old monument is still standing. When we left the Colosseum there were men dressed up in gladiator outfits. I thought that the gladiator outfits portrayed the Colosseum as it was when it first opened up.
Hadrian’s Villa was an amazing site to behold. Between AD 118 and 134 Hadrian’s Villa was built as a private summer retreat. Hadrian’s villa is a vast open-air museum of the finest architecture of the Roman world. The Villa used to display full-scale reproductions of the emperor’s favorite building from Egypt and Greece. When we visited the Villa, it was mostly filled with ruins, columns, and olive trees. Even though we only got to see the ruins, it was still a beautiful site to see.
It was nice to explore the many acres of Hadrian’s estate and the silent ruins of his villa. It was very surreal to walk around the grounds of what used to be someone’s home and see the rubble that it has become. Standing in the different places gave me a sense of awe mixed with some eerie feeling that I could not place. The small lake surrounded by the statues was very interesting and beautiful. I especially liked the ornate sculpture that rested in the middle of the lake. In fact, I was fascinated by the bronze sculptures by Marcovinicio Carelli that were displayed in scattered areas. They were so intricate and strange, and yet so beautiful to behold.
Other than all the adventures I had while studying in Italy, I also had classes that I had to study for. While I studied at Temple University Rome, I took two classes: International Business and The History of Art in Rome. Both of these classes enriched my knowledge of the Roman culture. In my International Business class we learned about conducting business internationally, mainly in the EU. For the International Business class we did a project that lasted for the whole semester on a country and a business in that country. My partner and I decided to do our project on Spain and its telecommunications company, Telefonica. This project and this class overall, opened my eyes on how business was conducted internationally and how a country’s economy standing affects the companies doing business in that particular country.
In my History of Art in Rome class, we visited various historic sites and learned about Roman art. The art we studied ranged from the Ancient Roman architecture to post Renaissance. We learned about several artists such as Michelangelo, Caravaggio, Raphael, Leonardo Da Vinci, and many others. The professor we had was Italian and he was very passionate about art. Even though I really wasn’t interested about art until I took this class, the professor made it really interesting to learn about. Since it was a History of Art in Rome we did a lot of learning on site. Every Thursday we would meet our professor at a particular site to discuss and see different artwork such as statues, paintings, and Roman architecture. Not only did meeting on site help us to view the different artwork, but it also gave us a chance to get to learn our way around the city.