As part of orientation, we went on a small trip. Monday morning, we all loaded onto a bus, and drove all day to get to a town named Matera in Southern Italy. Matera is not very big city and not many tourists really go there or know about it yet. It was incredibly beautiful and not a place I would have gone on my own, so I was so glad that it was included as part of our orientation. Fun fact: it is also where The Passion of the Christ movie was filmed!
But what really makes Matera so special is the houses there that were built into the side of cliff; they essentially started caves that were dug out to become homes. They call this part of town the Sassi, which is Italian for stone. Walking around the Sassi was almost like walking through a maze, everything was winding with lots of hidden nooks and corners.
After touring the Sassi in the morning, that afternoon I went on a hike to another hill that overlooked the Matera. The view was so beautiful, and I just loved being there—definitely one of my favorite things I have done thus far on the trip.
Since coming back to Rome from Southern Italy, I’ve really just been working on getting more settled in and exploring the city some more. There’s so much to see just in Rome, and I feel like I’ll never get to half of it. Even the smallest things here are such an adventure, from buying laundry detergent to finishing all of the paperwork for my Italian visa.
Today we have been having wonderful weather—like mid-80’s instead of high 90’s, sunny, with just the right amount of breeze. I spent most of my afternoon just sitting in the JFRC courtyard, reading and catching up on my journaling.
I also had my first experience going running in Rome! Of course, the Rome Center is located on a hill, so parts of it weren’t too fun and it was definitely different than going running back at the track in Perryville. Instead of the track, I was running on narrow, winding streets, dodging all kinds of plants and being careful to avoid vespas. I definitely got a few strange looks from some Italians (I don’t think they really go running like we do), but it was way worth it.
And now classes start tomorrow morning, which will be another kind of adventure in and of itself… just maybe not quite as exciting as the other kinds I’ve been having. However, it will be good to be learning things again, and it will be nice to have some kind of routine.