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Week 1 in Italy!

Buonasera a tutti!

As promised, here is blog #1 (of 6!) covering my first week in Rome, Italy.

*warning: this blog/diary entry is quite long - but there are pictures!*

Before I begin I want to express how incredibly grateful I am to be studying abroad in Italy. "Soak it all in, and connect to your roots, I bet you'll feel right at home." That's what my dad said to me at the airport before my journey began, and he couldn't have been more right. This sounds cheesy but Italy feels familiar, welcoming, exciting, and well, like home.

After being here for only a week, I've noticed that the Italian I've been subconsciously listening to my whole life is slipping out effortlessly in passing conversation. Waiters, shop owners, and kind locals have entertained my attempts to speak Italian on a daily basis. I have no other word to describe it other than utterly fun (and satisfying). I am also taking an entry level Italian class at the American University of Rome, which has helped to jog my memory and learn conversational Italian.

Alora, let's begin.

We arrived in Italy the morning of May 30th. After regrouping at the airport, the American University of Rome (AUR) transported us to our apartments in Trastevere, a residential neighborhood of Rome. I immediately fell in love stepping out on our balcony overlooking a hill of European architecture and greenery.

After settling in it was time to explore. We boldly decided to figure out how to use the tram and were stopped by police checking tickets, a rare occurrence, but just our luck! Don't worry all went well, just a solid 2-3 minutes of straight panic (lol). Moving on, we stumbled upon a nearby piazza and ordered refreshing aperol spritzes and antipasti to celebrate the start of our journey and decompress after a long day of travel.

Day 2! We had a group tour of AUR to get to know the campus (photo 1), as well as our program directors and teachers. Fun fact, it takes roughly 3 flights of stairs and up-hill walking to get to AUR. Let's just say I'm going to have some very toned legs after this trip.

For reference here's a fun little video we made

Tour 2 took place the same day exploring Piazza Venezia, Le Comus Romane di Palazzo Valentini, the Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, and Campo Marzio. After a considerable about of walking and taking in the sights we decided pasta was a must-have.

Alexei, our waiter, eagerly spoke Italian with us and was excited to practice his english with us too. I ordered one of my favorite pastas, spaghetti alle vongole, and shared prosecco with my new friend Lily while getting to know the other girls in the program.

First day of class! After hiking to AUR I sat down in Italian class at 8:30 AM sweaty and ready to learn. I was so excited and relieved to know that we would solely be learning conversational Italian with minor grammar lessons here and there. Next the class got a 30 minute break before meeting in the lecture hall for Advertising 402 and 334.

We checked out the local grocery store after class and munched on some Italian snacks while studying our new Italian vocab on the balcony. Then naturally it was time for more pasta. The streets were packed with people which made more great people watching at dinner in Piazza di Santa Maria. Some gelato, night life exploring, and walking later we came back to the apartment and slept like babies.

Day 4 was Republic Day in Italy, so we took the tram to Piazza Venezia and watched the parade. The streets were filled with people who all seemed to be misinformed on when the parade was starting, including ourselves. We ended up waited for several hours in the 90 degree Roman sun, then finally saw the parade in action. To cool off we found the nearest gelateria and scarfed down lampone (raspberry) gelato.

As a group all the students in the program met in Vatican City for a field activity. We met at the center of St. Peter's Square and went over the directions of the activity while taking in the gorgeous view. For the assignment we found a local cafe and interviewed Italians about their thoughts on Starbucks, since the company has had a rough go at entering the Italian market.

The kind owner of the cafe we chose sat at our table chatting about his love for coffee and Italian coffee culture for several minutes. He even brought out his staff for us to interview which was amazing and very helpful.

Another tour on day 5. We walked through the Jewish Ghetto, Sant'Angelo, Piazza Navona, and The Pantheon. There's something about the size of The Pantheon that will leave you staring in awe for minutes on end. It was fascinating to see how the city has built itself around the iconic monument, incorporating it into some people's everyday commutes.

Energy was running low on day 5, but we knew just the trick - pasta! Once again I ordered spaghetti alle vongole and had a long dinner with friends in Trastevere. We then got ready for a night on the town and took the tram to Rome. We then found out that the trams stop working after midnight, and walked 30 minutes home after our night of fun.

Exciting day 6 - I met up with my dad's cousin, Antonello! We met in Piazza San Calisto for coffee and he introduced me to granita al caffe con panne aka heaven in a glass. I have yet to try it, but it looked so incredible I just know it will be my new favorite. Antonello gave me great Rome recommendations, showed me how to use the train apps, and we chatted about family making the morning absolutely lovely.

After we parted ways my friends and I wandered over to Mercado di Testaccio to check out the street food market. I got artichoke drenched in rich olive oil and fried white fish - yum yum yum. We then met as a group in Piazza del Popolo for another field activity analyzing Italian advertisements. To do so we explored the busy shopping strips in Campo Marzio and did a little shopping as well.

We finished the day with, you guessed it, pasta in front of the Pantheon. Dinner with a view taken to a whole other level that's for sure!

If you are still reading, thank you for sticking around, we have reached today (day 7)!!

To keep it simple, we visited Santa Marinella for day at the beach. In just 40 minutes by train we were basking in the sun and swimming in the Tyrrhenian Sea. This relaxing day was exactly what we needed after a whirlwind of events during our first week in Rome.

Until next week, arrivederci!

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