It was the last day of our trip in Cusano Mutri. To culminate this amazing mushroom adventure, three other Rome Start girls and I decided to wake up at 5am to watch the sunrise from in between the mountains.
We woke up to find that it was pouring outside. However, this did not stop us. We geared up in our warmest clothing and umbrellas and headed out. We hiked to the top of the nearest mountain – which only took us about 6 minutes – and proceeded to contemplate in awe how the heavy mist shifted around us. It was raining so hard, and there was so much mist that we knew we would never see a sunrise, but we stayed for a long while nonetheless.
Slowly, the darkness started to give way to the light and we were able to see the mountains more clearly. Everything was completely silent except for the sound of the rain hitting our umbrellas and the occasional bird. Even though we did not get to see the sunrise we were hoping for, this is my favorite memory from the whole trip.
It was the first night of our trip in Cusano Mutri. We were exploring the little town after having had a delicious meal of funghi porcini which are the famous mushrooms of the region. It was getting dark, but the town was only beginning to wake up. The lights illuminating the stone roads and buildings made the town look exceptionally beautiful and magical.
We walked around and admired all the little stands which were selling jewelry, clothes, and a variety of different foods such as honey and mushrooms. The air smelled of mushrooms cooking and everyone seemed truly happy.
The real highlight of this night, however, was stumbling across a man who was playing an old, beautiful mountain song on his saxophone. A group of 10 Loyola students was sitting on the road listening to him and I joined them. After the man had finished playing the song, he signaled at us to wait a moment. He stood there thinking for a little, and then began to play popular songs like Titanium and Uptown Funk on his saxophone! It was a lot of fun and a phenomenal way to start off our trip!
One of the best parts of being at the JFRC is taking on-site classes. This semester I am taking Art in Rome and even though it is a demanding class, it is most certainly worth it.
Every week instead of going into a classroom for a lecture, we make our way to Rome and explore a new church or museum with our Professor.
This is a very unique opportunity because you get to learn about the most famous pieces of art and architecture while being in their presence. Being able to admire masterpieces up-close truly makes the class all the more interesting and engaging.
In addition to it having a phenomenal learning experience, it is also a great way of learning how to get around in Rome. Buses are not always very reliable and having to plan around that is very good life experience as well.
This past weekend I set out to explore the neighborhood of Testaccio with my friend Katie. Testaccio is very different from other parts of Rome because it is much more industrial. At first glance it even looks somewhat rundown, but we found it has an undeniable charm.
Sometimes I prefer to not plan anything at all for exploring, so all we googled was how to get there and left the rest to chance. We arrived and the first thing we saw was a great pyramid. This struck us as very odd and upon reading the information box situated in front of it, we found out that this was the Pyramid of Cestius. We also visited the Non-Catholic Cemetery, and then proceeded to wander through the streets of Testaccio. We saw a lot of very interesting street art, some with political messages.
We also explored the more residential area. We saw people watering the plants on their balconies, going for a jog, and carrying their groceries.
What I enjoyed the most about this neighborhood was the everyday-life that it emanated. We found many little parks with parents laughing playing with their children, older men playing cards, and teenagers hanging out with their friends. In addition, we discovered that Testaccio is a phenomenal place to eat in local favorite trattorias and osterias.
Today was the first day of calcio and I just want to say that Arancione is going to take this league!
All the students left the JFRC and headed towards the fields around 6:30. Everyone was very excited and ready to play. Once we all got there half of the teams started playing while the rest cheered them on.
It was awesome to see the mix of people who had never played, with the people who had played for their entire lives. Everybody tried their best and that allowed some very action packed games to take place!
The student referees all did a great job and called very fair games. When the first round of games ended, the second round began. Arancione played a great game against Bordeaux and won. I am in Arancione, in case anyone was wondering.
At the end of all the games, the students, SLAs and professors who played, went to eat pizza. This is a tradition at the JFRC and it is a great place to get to know people better and make new friends.
It was about 3pm on a clear Friday when Alejandra and I set off from Il Battistero en route to Piazza Michelangelo. It was quite a walk, but incredibly scenic. The small alleyways with vine covered walls looked like something I had only seen in pictures.
Little by little the streets started getting steeper and we began to encounter many flights of stairs. Once we had almost reached the top of one of them, we caught sight of a little sign off to the side of the stairs labeled Garden of the Roses. We went in and found and incredibly peaceful garden. There was a great variety of roses planted throughout the terrace like garden. The garden offered a beautiful overlook of the entire city. A different perspective than the one from the Dome.
I could hear water running, so I walked towards it and found a beautiful pond with a small fountain hidden in a corner. In it, little orange fish were swimming under the lilypads. The pond was surrounded by fruit trees and I took a pomegranate which was very good.
After about 30 minutes of enjoying the garden, we continued to search for Piazzale Michelangelo. It only took us about 7 more minutes. When we arrived, the sun was beginning to set, and there was a girl singing opera. While we sat on the steps overlooking the city, we saw about 5 different recently married couples taking pictures in their bride and groom outfits. It was funny because each couple had its own personality. One couple even brought props: inflatable hearts and an “&” sign! All in all, a fantastic way to end the day.
On our first night in Genova, Alejandra and I went out to dinner to Cavour 21. A lovely little trattoria in Piazza Cavour which was recommended to us by Stefano, our Airbnb host.
The place opened at 7, so we arrived around 6:40 to find there was already a line of 10 people formed outside the door. We were very surprised by this and took it as an indication that this was going to be a good meal.
At first, the trattoria didn’t look like much. It was a hole in the wall with a run down, green sign that read simply “Cavour 21”. We waited for 20 minutes as the line grew longer and longer. One thing we noticed is that even though there were plenty of tourists in Genova, we were the only ones in line.
When the restaurant finally opened and we were seated, we were able to appreciate how perfectly well distributed the small space was. Then we ordered pasta al pesto and pasta with seafood. Both of these dishes were their specialty and truly delicious.