The Fall Rome Class of 2019 arrived on campus in a flurry of activity: moving suitcases, finding rooms, joyously greeting friends, and exploring campus. Despite jetlag and the overwhelming volume of new information, the students responded to their first week in Rome with seemingly inexhaustible energy and delight.
The first day, the students began their semester officially with Convocation in the outdoor theatre. The Director and Dean of the Rome Program, Dr. Peter Hatlie, the Rome Program chaplain, Msgr. Thomas Fucinaro, and the Director of Student Affairs, Ben Gibbs, all welcomed the students with advice and encouragement to embrace all the opportunities that the semester offers. As the sun set, the students had their first Italian dinner on the Mensa patio, enjoying good food and good company.
The next day, the students visited St. Peter’s Basilica for the first time. As students stepped out of the colonnade, many couldn’t help but react by exclaiming, photographing, and even dancing across the nearly empty piazza. After mass in the Basilica, faculty and staff members led groups of students around Rome, introducing them to sites like the scenic overlook at Piazza di Popolo, the Pantheon, the Trastevere neighbourhood, the Capitoline hill, and many more.
The students finished their first week of classes with a celebratory excursion into the “Castelli Romani” towns near campus. First, they visited Ariccia, a small town known for the piazza and church designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini and its delicious roasted pork, which many students tried. Nemi, the second Castelli town the students explored, is famous for delicious strawberries, for the writers and artists such as Goethe and Byron who visited there, and for the beautiful lake beneath the town. This lake is often called “Diana’s Mirror,” for its smooth reflective surface and for the mysterious cult of Diana which originated on its shores. The last town the students saw was Castel Gandolfo, the beautiful site of the Papal summer palace. Castel Gandolfo overlooks Lake Albano, the twin lake to Nemi, formed by the collapse of a volcanic crater thousands of years ago. A newly married bride and groom walked out the church as the students walked into the main piazza, so the students cheered with the crowd as the couple dodged rice and took wedding photos. With their free time in Castel Gandolfo, the students explored the picturesque town and enjoyed the beautiful views of the lake, quickly finding the best photo spots and the best gelato!
After exploring these neighbouring towns, the students concluded their first week in Rome with a wine tasting and a wonderful Italian dinner back on the Due Santi campus. The students rose to the occasion by dressing to the nines. Msgr. Fucinaro, Due Santi’s wine aficionado, taught the students to taste and appreciate the wines as an accompaniment to a fine meal. The long Italian dinners are the perfect setting for students to mingle and socialize, exchanging stories, jokes, and plans for the semester. This festive event brought the students together to celebrate the success of their first week and begin the rest of their semester in style!
Now the students are looking forward to a wonderful semester of study and travel together. Many are already planning their trips, both abroad and in the city of Rome.