An envoi is an author’s concluding words, so here is my final blog entry for my time in Rome. I’ve posted all the pictures that I wanted to, emblazoned all the good times in my mind and thrown my coin into the Trevi. So with that, it’s time to pause my Roman Roaming.
I guess I’ll start from the beginning, not for lack of imagination but because starting anywhere else would lead to a full-on memoir rather than a blog post. When we arrived at St. John’s, jetlagged but full of excitement, I opted to walk my 23 kg suitcase up the 100+ stairs to my room on the 4th floor. In my mind, it was a kind of initiation as well as a reminder not to pack so much next time. Despite being underwhelmed by my room at first sight, I grew to cherish it, even the stupid tiny bunk beds. And of course, I loved my roommate. We got each other through all the ‘what the hell, Rome?’ moments.
Around the time of our first walk back from the Trastevere welcome dinner, I was hit with that feeling of incredulousness. I was in Rome. All the sights sparked memories from 2009 but also helped me realized how much I had changed since then. Seeing the Campo de’ Fiori and Pantheon lit up in all their Roman nightlife glory that Monday sent waves of excitement rushing through me. I promised myself to squeeze as much as I could from this trip – I would immerse myself intellectually and emotionally.
There was no way I could’ve taken this trip for granted after I put so much energy into preparing for this course. Identifying monuments and streets was like second nature. Even though I did feel a little dorky, I reveled in the fact that I was familiar with both the ancient and modern city. Last fall, I never would’ve imagined I could walk up to the imperial fora and identify where each forum was. In all honesty, before this course I didn’t even know there was any fora other than the ancient one that’s on all the postcards. Even walking through the ancient Roman forum was so much better the second time around. I knew where the Basilica Julia was, knew not to confuse it with the Basilica Aemilia, and knew where Vesta’s eternal flame burned.
I felt grateful every day of this trip, even though it wasn’t always sunshine and rainbows. The ‘privilege tours’ (as I called them) were probably my favorite things, especially the Vatican Scavi of the Necropolis. I had visited the Vatican before, but due to complications, we entered the basilica and found we weren’t allowed to see the back apse of even the transept. This time, I got to walk around freely and after hearing the story of Saint Peter again, I admired the central altar much more. Among other locations, the Vatican is a key reminder of the layering of Rome. Nothing seems to be forgotten and nothing is built over without first exploring what lies beneath. Therefore, us Romekids always signed our names in the guestbook. I think my name is immortalized in both the Pantheon and Mueso della Civiltà now.
I can’t conclude my trip without mentioning my other favorite places. I’m sure they’ve been in other entries, but they deserve to be mentioned once more. Visiting the basement and top tier of the Colosseum was not only a privilege but also a dream come true. The same goes for the Galleria Borghese. The Bernini statues have been in my head since I first saw them, especially Apollo and Daphne. The way Bernini worked with marble gives me the chills. Of course, I loved the open spaces in Rome as well, my top two being the Giardino dei Aranci next to Santa Sabina and the Via Appia. I love the countryside, arguably as much as I love the city. There is so much to be said about these green spaces, but in hopes of being concise, the walk up the Via Appia will forever be ingrained in my mind as a place of sanctuary.
Despite the fact that I’m reaching a conclusion, it feels artificial. Whether this is because I’m still not ready to admit I’m back home or because I know I’ll be back in Italy soon enough, I’m still not sure. All I know is that I have a list that’s about 3 pages long commemorating everything I will miss dearly from this trip. Some highlights? My jogs along the Tiber, the pleasure (and luxury) of being able to get well-deserved drinks with my professors, actually feeling like an adult rather than a college student. There was such a sense of mutual respect between my professors, my classmates and the city itself. I know I did what I could to respect, as well as appreciate, everything Rome offered. Sure, there were times when I thought the city would drive me crazy, but looking at the city as a whole, I would go back in heartbeat. I honestly don’t want to stop typing, because it means I’ve finished writing Rome, though I know it had to happen sometime. So Lettori, fellow Romani, Dan and Jackie: grazie mille. As Dan so aptly put it, we’ll always be Romani.
Never stop roaming. Ci vediamo!