Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Ciao da Roma!

Hello! Today was our first full day in the eternal city, and despite feeling jet-lagged, it was a wonderful day! I was woken by a cooling breeze through our open balcony, the city was already busy with people commuting to work and sipping espresso in tiny bars below me.

We had our first class at 9am this morning in the ACCENT center. The Center is located about a 15-20 minute commute from our residence. The building was originally constructed to be the bank of The Vatican hundreds of years ago. The title of the class is called "Made in Italy". Our professor is a very nice Italian woman named Fabiano. She has a diverse business background, and has lived all over the world, including Miami, New York, and Paris!

After class we had lunch at a small cafe down the street, Followed by Orientation with Steve. He is our director at the ACCENT center. He has been so helpful with giving us advice, providing us with maps, metro cards, etc.

After orientation, we were taken on a short walking tour of the area. At first we groaned at the idea of taking a walking tour being that we were so exhausted, but after a quick shot of esspresso from the "Amore Snack Bar", we were ready to go! Our guide (who also teaches urban studies for ACCENT) is originally from Canada. Her background is in Architecture. We couldn't have asked for a better guide. She was very passionate about everything she told us, and equally as knowledgeable. Just around the corner from our building is the "Piazza Di Pasquino." Pasquino was an ancient ruin that was placed here to decorate the street after it was found long ago. She explained that he is a very special "talking statue." Long before freedom of speech, the Pope would have anyone who spoke poorly of him beheaded. So, the Romans would voice their opinion by posting comments on the base of Pasquino, and he would speak for them. As you can see, people are still posting their opinions all around his base!

Next we went to Pizza Navona, which so far has been my favorite place in Rome. During the Roman Empire, Piazza Navona was the track for chariot racing, and is shaped appropriately. It was later turned into a city dump, and all of the buildings were built to face away from its center. It was hard to believe this because it is one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. Later on during the Boro (sp?) era, the pope had the waste removed and built his palace here and 2 beautiful fountains. Only tiny ally ways lead to the square, and I was shocked the when we turned the corner and it opened into such a beautiful area. During the day, it is full of street performers, artists Italians, and tourists. the edges as well as the allies are lined with quaint cafes. I believe they are playing the world cup on a large projection screen here tomorrow night, so we are planning on coming back for that!!

We also passed the Senate, and the Pantheon, which was massive. We didn't have time to go into the Pantheon today, but we all agree we must soon!. We continued through the winding streets and stopped at a coffee shop for one of our guides favorite treats, granita de cafe! it is frozen esspresso that is shaved into a snow-cone consistency, and layered with roman whipped cream. The beans that they use are naturally sweet, and produce the best coffee I have ever had. The whipped cream is not as sweet as ours, and is very dense. The closest thing I can think of to compare the consistency with would be "I can't believe its not butter" that had been beaten to death. Sounds strange, but was amazing.

Eventually we made our way to the Trevi Fountain! Unfortunately, we didn't have much time left in the day, and had to head home to get ready for our welcome dinner. I hope to return soon just to sit and listen to the water, and watch the people pass by.

We had a welcome dinner tonight in the Trastevere neighborhood right by our apartment. It began with bread, followed by a pasta course. Many of us thought the pasta was our meal and we're surprised to find out it was only an appitizer. We had a traditional meal of veal, potatoes, and grilled veggies. Afterward was tiramisu and a decaf cappuccino.

Unfortunately there is not enough bandwidth at this moment for me to upload photos, but I will try again soon!

Baci e Abbracci!