Sunday January 29,
Today was the day where we would be lead on tours of the city. I was so excited to finally be able to see the monements Rome is known for. The day started out with breakfast at 7 am where I felt like I was still half asleep. It was a good think I packed my bag with everything I would need the night before like money, copy of my passport and water. Today was also the first time I would be riding the Rome bus system.
We head out as a huge group of 30 with some stragglers behind us. While we walk to the bus spot which is only a couple feet outside the campus, one of the Assistant Resident Director (ARDs) taught us the rules of the buses and crossing the street. Her first rule was that you have to cross in a cross walk or else if you get hit its your own fault. Simple enough, look for the white lines on the road and walk over them. Well, turns out it wasn't that simple as about only 1 or 2 lines are still visible and the rest have faded away. It appeared as though the ARD chose to cross the street at a random shrub until I asked her once we were one the other side and she pointed it out. Rule 2: Cars don't stop to give you a clear path. You have to walk with confidence and make eye contact with the driver so they slow down. This goes against everything I have been taught about crossing the street. Why would I want to start crossing when there is still a car speeding at me rather than at a complete rest letting me know I could go. This method of crossing the street will take some getting used to as my heart pounds every time I have to attempt it. When we finally get to the bus stop we were told that on our stretch of street there is only 1 bus to take us into the outskirts of town where we would then transfer buses to get into the center of the city. Yay, I have to take 2 buses to get anywhere... Well it turns out the 905, or the first bus I have to take, is very unreliable and comes about every 45 minutes... I hope I never miss it when I have to go into the city for class.
When the bus finally pulls up it is already half full. It turns out only half of our 57 students would be able to make it on so we would have to wait for the second bus to take the rest. However, since we had not already been split into our predetermined groups, we got stuck waiting for the rest of the school at the other end of the bus for 45 minutes until they arrived. Not the end of the world. The ARD with us was able to give us some good advice and we could ask all our questions we had so far.
Finally the other students arrived and it was time for us to break into 3 groups and go on our tours throughout the city. The tour began with a explanation of the bus system. The ARD explain how the signs worked for what route we needed and how electronic signs show estimated time of arrival. We were then shown the metro system which is honestly super easy. It only has two lines that go in a north-south and east-west direction compared to the crazy squiggles all the different lines the DC metro makes. We were then show the train station and how to book/ catch a train. Easy enough. My next stop however was my favorite one of the day. We got out at the metro stop for the Colosseum and after ascending the escalators we were greeted by the Colosseum. It was right in front of us!!! It was amazing! We were given time to take pictures which was great. I later learned that while my group got to visit the landmark Rome is known for, the other two groups visited the Trevi Fountain and a glass escalator that gave you a view of the city. I however, am happy with the attraction I got and am happy I ended up in that group.
After our magnificent view we walked through he Forum to lunch where I had my first Italian pizza of the trip. It had roasted vegetables on it and it was amazing. It was even better considering Duquesne paid for the meal. We then went to the Pantheon and admired its open ceiling and architecture before we continued on to Piazza Navona to look at its fountains. Finally it was time for the best food of the trip; gelato. We arrive to find a ton of different flavors. Duquesne was paying yet again and we were allowed to get a cone with 2 flavors and whipped cream if you wanted. I ended up getting chocolate and pistachio with whipped cream and it was amazing! It was honestly some of the best gelato I have had. As I am standing outside enjoying my gelato, the ARD breaks the news that she is leaving and we have to find our way home. We have one bus ticket left and have no idea where we are besides in Rome. That was a shock but I understand their motives behind it. They had shown us before places where we could catch the bus and while they may have walked us in circles to make it seem like we were far away, we were actually relatively close. We just took out our maps and after a couple wrong turns we were at the stop where we literally missed the bus by 1 minute. Guess well be waiting another 35. In that time though, another group met us so we rode the bus back together. The ride back was interesting because in Italian culture, the bus is silent. However the 30 students from the US get on, we are loud and annoying. We received a bunch of stares from other riders. After an hour and a half we made it back to campus. Just in time to go to the restroom and then head down to dinner. After dinner we then went to plan our travel scheulde for weekends while we are here because sign up for the duquesne excursions starts at 8 am on tuesday. There are so many places I want to go but so little time! Well, we will see what I get a spot to and plan from there cause its time for bed after walking throughout Rome all day.
PS check out my photo section by clicking the 3 lines at the top right corner and choosing the photos page.
I'm Sabrina Kirsch a sophmore physical therapy student at Duquesne University. I will be spending the spring semester of 2017 in Rome, Italy where I will eat my way through all the gelato and pasta they offer. My goal is to see everything possible and visit as many countries as possible.