I arrived in Rome almost exactly a week ago. It feels both much longer and much shorter. Orientation at the JFRC is already winding to a close, and this past week has been such a mixture of emotions for me.
In the past week, I have:
moved into my room at the JFRC, met many new people, wandered around Rome, seen many of the most famous Roman landmarks, had way too many 3 course meals (I do understand how Italians eat like this on a regular basis), traveled to Southern Italy, looked out over one of the most beautiful views of my entire life, attempted to speak Italian to real Italians, and much more.
It's difficult to describe how it feels to be in Rome again. As I find my way around this city and see all of the sites that I fell in love with while visiting three years ago, it almost feels like coming back home to an old friend that has been neglected for far too long.
Visiting the Vatican last Friday night was one of the best experiences of my time here thus far. Since it was late at night, we obviously couldn't go inside St. Peter's, but we were allowed to wander around the Square, which was almost more beautiful at night. Last time I was in Italy, we visited the Vatican during the day when it was crowded with thousands of people. This time, there was barely anyone else there besides our group, and we were free to wander as we wished, even sitting down and just soaking up what it felt like to be there. That was one of the first moments I really realized that I was in Rome.
I've been around to other sites in Rome as well since arriving--Piazza Navona, the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, the Pantheon, and the Trevi Fountain (a personal favorite). On Sunday, everyone at the Rome Center went to the Colosseum/Forum together, and on the way back, I stopped to eat at a cafe with a few friends. Since it was Sunday afternoon, all of the Italians were there watching the soccer match (and usually passionately yelling at the TV screens). Even experiencing something as simple as that definitely made me feel like I had become clued into something crucial about Rome.
There so much more to say, especially about my time in Southern Italy on the orientation trip, but I'm off to eat lunch, then explore the Spanish Steps. Ciao!