Once we finally got out of the airport, it was great. Sixty degrees, but cloudy, but no one minded because everyone was so excited. We took a bus into the city itself where we dropped off our luggage at the campus and brought our carry ons to the hotel, which is nice and clean but nothing really fancy. I am in a room with the girl I say next to on the plane and another girl id never met but seems very nice. We were able to shower and sleep for about an hour and then we were to meet in the lobby at 3:30 to begin orientation (which was probably the absolute last thing on this planet any one of us wanted to do at this point)
They planned this day well though I think. It was a walking tour of Rome and in total we walked about three and a half miles but it didn't seem like much because we stopped so often. We got a gelato at one of the best gelato places in Rome in the Piazza Navona. We got there around 5 pm which was a great time because it was just beginning to come alive for the evening. It was a gorgeous piazza with the center being the Four Rivers Fountain by Bernini. In almost every piazza it seems there is a work by a significant artist it is really incredible. Interesting fact (dad I feel like you'll appreciate this) in many of these piazzas, including piazza Navona have these Egyptian obelisks which in ancient times were set up in key public places to celebrate Rome's occupation of Egypt, according to Rick Steve's travel book. They kind of stick out compared to the other architecture so it's pretty cool. After this, our guide who is the director for the program here in Rome, casually pointed out the pantheon (as if you could miss it) as we emerged from a side street to another piazza. It is BEAUTIFUL and just unbelievable when you think about how old it is. It's incredibly well preserved. We also saw the Spanish steps and St. Peter's from a distance. It's dome can be seen throughout much of the city, I can't wait to go the Vatican!
The city itself is incredible. It really is this mix of modern day and ancient. The historical sites are not all in one place but really spread throughout the city which is so cool. We learned how to use the metro today as well and literally came up the escalator to be greeted by the colosseum, which by the way is MASSIVE. I mean I thought I had an idea but I didn't. I can't wait to go inside at some point. The side streets of Rome are adorable and quintessentially Italian. There are cobblestone streets and cute little cafés everywhere. The gypsies do this thing where they try to sell these laser pointers or these things that fly in the air so they shine the laser or throw one of the toys up really high so you look at it and are therefore distracted. And they are EVERYWHERE. Absolutely everywhere, but we learn to ignore them.
After the walk which took almost 3 hours we had dinner with the whole group, catholic university and Loyola students. It was fantastic. Not the best food I've ever had but pretty darn good, and they have the tables bottles of red wine. The first course was prosciutto and fresh mozerella over arugula which was fantastic. The next was pasta; pasta carbonara and another tomato sauce that I can't remember the name of, both great. And then we had a strawberry cream dessert which actually wasn't wall that great. Overall though, SUCH a fun dinner!!
It was a fantastic day. I'm beyond excited to be here and can't wait to see what tomorrow will bring!! Working on putting up some pictures but the wifi here is awful! Hopefully ok figure it out tomorrow...