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Rome is Officially Home

I never thought that I would this feel at home in the city that I were to study abroad in. I always thought that I would love the city but never thought I found find the same sense of home I have in Fairfield, Connecticut and Providence, Rhode Island. After traveling this past weekend to another city in Italy, I found myself excited to get back to Rome, and realized that it is officially my new home.

Studying abroad in such a large city can sometimes be overwhelming. Getting lost in Rome is something that happens on a daily basis and although sometimes it’s frustrating, it can lead to finding new places that I would have never see before. Though I have loved living in such a large city, smaller cities definitely have their benefits and that is something I learned this weekend while traveling to Florence, Italy.

CEA sponsored the trip to Florence, which is much closer to Rome than I had thought. I knew that Florence would be much smaller than Rome but I didn’t realize how much smaller it would. I was only in the city for about 36 hours and felt like I had a general sense of where I was going and what direction specific things were.

Once we arrived in Florence, we were provided a walking tour with our program which took us all around Florence. Our tour guide, who was an American woman from Pennsylvania, explained the history the important sites in Florence such as Michelangelo’s David statue, the Duomo and the Ponte Vecchio bridge. Since our tour guide was American and knew we could easily fall for them, she let us know of places that were tourist traps so we could have a more authentic Tuscan experience.

The next morning we were able to climb the Duomo with tickets provided to us by our CEA directors. Now, if you have ever climbed it before you know what I mean when I say it is a lot of steps! 463 steps and many narrow staircases later, we made it to the top which was SO worth the climb! The view was so beautiful and we were even lucky enough to be greeted by a rainbow while overlooking all of Florence. The way down was a little stressful as the first part of the trek down is the same as the way up, so there were people trying to move in different directions in a very small space but after some time we made it out!

 Why not take a selife after walking 463 steps to the top?!

Later that day we went to a really nice restaurant with our program called La Beppa Fioraia. We were initially served the most amazing antipasta platter I have ever seen which was full of cheeses, different spreads, meats and this wonderful bread called panzerotti. For lunch, we were served pasta with prosciutto in a creamy sauce as well as a pasta with rabbit meat. I told myself before I came abroad that I would try everything, so I had a small bite of the rabbit meat… lets just say that one bite was enough for me!

After lunch, we headed back to our hotel, grabbed our bags and took another rainy trek to the train station. Just like that, our trip to Florence was over. Fortunately, we were able to see so much of the city in such a short period of time. That is one of the best things about Florence, how small and accessible everything is. We never had to take a cab, the metro or the bus, which is a necessity to get around Rome conveniently. Everything is within walking distance, and is easy to find once you know have walked around for a few hours.

 My roommate Alexa and I in front of the Duomo

As this was my first weekend of traveling, I was so lucky to have it planned by CEA. They made everything so easy and accommodating. The CEA staff was so helpful with advice and tips on how to navigate Florence considering the time we were there. Now that I have one weekend of travel under my belt, I feel prepared and ready for my next weekend of travel, this time planned by myself. Florence was such a beautiful city and I was so lucky so spend some time there but I was excited to come back to Rome. Walking in the doors to my apartment, I felt so happy to be home. Considering I never thought that I would feel this at home in a foreign city, this feeling was the best feeling I have felt in my first few weeks abroad. Regardless of the city one is studying abroad in, big or small, having that sense of home is so important and I am so lucky that I can officially call Rome my new home.
 Just hanging at the Ponte Vecchio bridge
 Greeted by a rainbow at the top of the Duomo

Katherine Mahder is the Spring 2015 CEA MOJO in Rome, Italy. She is currently a Junior at Providence College.

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