To celebrate the end of classes for the semester, I jumped on an HC group trip to Italy through a program called Bus2Alps. The program we did was called Rome2Amalfi, which was a four-day trip to the Amalfi Coast from Rome. There were three groups of Holy Cross students, each from one of the three different HC study abroad locations in Ireland (Dublin, Cork, and Galway). In total, we were a group of 13 and the bigger Bus2Alps group was around 200. Although the program officially started Thursday night, I flew into Rome early Wednesday morning by myself in order to spend a little extra time sightseeing before Amalfi. I had been to Rome on a family vacation back in high school, but due to flight cancellations and weather disasters we only had about 24 hours in the city. We basically spent our time in a van speeding around the city trying to make it to as many monuments as possible. Therefore, this time around I was determined to spend some time just wandering the city, experiencing the rhythm and the atmosphere, which is what I missed out on before. I also missed out on some crucial tourist sights like the Spanish Steps, so I added those to the “must-see” list.
After a quick lunch at the Piazza Risorgimento right next to my hostel (a salad with parmesan cheese, mushrooms, and hearts of palm), I lathered on the sunscreen and headed to the Piazza del Popolo. Last year at Holy Cross I took a 17th century art and architecture class and we had studied the architecture of some of the buildings in the Piazza as well as two Caravaggio paintings that are held in the chapel of one of the churches, the Santa Maria del Popolo. I knew I couldn’t come to Rome and not see the paintings after having spent so much time studying them in class. I saw the “Conversion of Saint Paul on the Road to Damascus” and the “Crucifixion of Saint Peter,” which were both even more vibrant and detailed than I had appreciated from pictures and slides in class. From the Piazza I walked down to the Spanish Steps and as I was sitting on the steps soaking up the sun and awkwardly asking strangers to take my picture I got a call on my Irish phone from one of the other HC girls from Galway who was also in Rome. I asked her where she was so I could meet up with her and a few other HC Galway girls and it turned out that they were also sitting on the Spanish Steps, just a few levels above me! It was a great coincidence. We walked over to the Pantheon together, first stopping at a café that is one of the oldest in Rome. I got a cappuccino and it was the best of the entire trip. After the Pantheon the girls got gelato at a famous gelateria nearby. Exhausted from getting up at 4:00 a.m. for my flight and then spending all day walking in the sun, I decided to call it quits on my touring after a walk through the Borghese gardens and I headed back to the hostel to wait for the rest of my Dublin group to meet me later in the evening.
The next morning the HC boys from Dublin and I set out for a full day of touring. We had to be at the bus terminal by 7:45 p.m. so we started the day with a tour of the Coliseum and Roman Forum. Then we walked all the way to the Pantheon and Trevi Fountain, stopping for a great lunch along the way. I had my first prosciutto and melon of the trip and I think it was the best piece of cantaloupe that I have ever tasted—amazingly ripe and juicy, which was just what I wanted after walking around in the sun all morning. We walked to the Spanish Steps, grabbed some gelato and headed for the hostel to collect our bags so we could meet with the rest of the HC group before making our way to the bus terminal. Finally all the HC kids together, we marched to the train station with our bags and headed off to Sorrento and a weekend worth of adventures.
Katie Riley '14