The Taste of Independence

September 26th-28th. Weekend in Southern Italy.

We have been in Rome for one month now, and with the passing of every day I am constantly overwhelmed with feelings of gratitude. This past weekend was the first independent trip I took with my roommate Andrea, and all the beauty of Naples, Pompeii and the Amalfi Coast surrounded us. We conquered Naples in 3 days and even managed to see the Amalfi Coast and the ruins of Pompeii. The first day we did everything my Italy guidebook told us to, and it was an incredible day. The week before I also asked my Italian professor for the best local places that I wouldn’t find in my guidebook, and she came back to me with a great list of restaurants, cafes, and churches that we couldn’t miss. The highlight of our time in Naples was taking the cable car up the hill to Castel Nuovo and watching the sunset from the top of the castle.

View from Castel Nuovo, Naples

View from Castel Nuovo, Naples

That same evening we went out to dinner at Da Michele, a famous pizzeria in the heart of Naples. Inspired by Julia Roberts in Eat, Pray, Love, we tried to reenact some moments she had at the restaurant on camera. It was the best pizza I’ve ever had.

Da Michele. Amazed at how much pizza we were each given!

Da Michele. Amazed at how much pizza we were each given!

The following day was spent on the Amalfi coast and although we were surrounded by lots of other tourists, the sights were stunning. Although it was one of the longest days of my life, we managed to see four cities in ten hours. Again, with the help of my guidebook we hit the highlights and tried to get off the beaten (very touristy) path, and were successful! On Sunday, we ended our trip with a visit to Pompeii. After learning about the ancient city every year in history, it was really amazing to finally see Mt. Vesuvius and Pompeii, and to put it all into perspective.

Positano, Italy

Positano, Italy

While Andrea and I conquered Southern Italy, the rest of the Rome Start class stayed in Rome but kept busy. Some of the girls went to a wine festival, and some even volunteered to hand out sandwiches Friday night in St. Peter’s Square. The JFRC has some really interesting community service opportunities and I hope to be able to participate in some throughout the semester.

I am grateful for this past weekend, but also for the dozens of other places I’ve seen in this past month. Looking back on my last few months home, I hadn’t even begun to comprehend all that I would experience in the coming year, but I was ready for this challenge and new experience. Classes are in full swing, and everyone is feeling the pressure of exams, etc. We are all trying to plan our weekend trips with such urgency that the calendar seems to be shrinking. Along with all the incredible tastes that Italy has to offer, I have enjoyed the taste of independence the most.


About Anna Johnson

I am from Lake Elmo, Minnesota, a small town right outside of the Twin Cities! I am studying Business, with a focus in Marketing and maybe a minor in Italian. I chose the Rome Start program because I wanted international experience and what better way than to start my college experience here in Roma! The best part about Rome Start is having Europe at my fingertips for an entire year, and learning in the heart of the eternal city.
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