Thursday, June 26, 2008

Recapturing My Time in Roma

How do I start my last blog post from Rome? How did I get here and where did the past seven weeks go? I would love to know. They have been packed full of travel experiences, churches, schoolwork, and learning about Roman culture. Thank you for completing the journey with me.

If you are just stumbling upon my page, enjoy reading about three important aspects of Rome. Learn about how an American feels in Rome and the U.S. products available here. Learn about one piazza, the Campo de'Fiori. Learn about wine and then other Roman traditions. Watch me embrace my time in Rome and watch my appreciation for the new culture grow.

If you are wondering where I am now, I am working on finishing my undergraduate degree in Communication Arts and Sciences. I am spending time with my family and friends. Most importantly, I am taking my dog Marley on adventures and giving him a life any dog or human alike would be jealous of. If only he could have come to Italy. He may not be well trained like the dogs here, but he would have loved coming into stores and restaurants with me.

Here's to you, Rome. Thank you for the memories. Thank you for allowing me to grow as a person. And most importantly, thank you for letting me feel at home in your piazzas, side streets, and gelaterias. I will not soon forget my time here.

Il Museo del Corso

I have been to the many of the churches Rome has to offer. I have seen the Capitoline Museum and the various exhibits advertised throughout the city. But some of my best hours spent in Rome were in the museum, Il Museo del Corso and the 400 exhibit it currently holds. If you would like more information, please visit this website

This exhibit offers the visitor a lot of information, but be prepared to spend over two hours reading the various facts about what life was like in the 1500s in Rome. Learn about how Rome transitioned from the Dark Ages to the Renaissance. Learn about the Pope relocating to Rome. Learn about various artists like Michelangelo. If you are looking for a history lesson on Rome, put a few Euros to good use and visit this museum which can easily be found a few blocks up from the Piazza Venezia.

Reflections on a Walk through the Markets of Rome

As a tourist to Rome, you may focus on the big sites. I am sure you want to visit the Vatican City and see Saint Peter's and the Sistine Chapel, the Colosseum, and the Pantheon. But what makes Italy different from other cities? The history is great, but learn about the culture.

By walking through the morning markets in Rome, you will see an Italian housewife buying groceries for the day and the Italian businessman buying fruit on his way to work. You are guaranteed a struggle between your limited Italian skills and the complete lack of English of the vendors. One thing I was the most sorry about of my time in Rome was the little Italian I picked up in the end. Force yourself to learn some by shopping in morning markets.

The market in Testaccio and the market in the Campo de'Fiori offer perfect chances. You can also find some great deals on jewelry and clothes. Take the time out of site seeing from the normal tourist spots and visit these markets which are off the between path. You will not be sorry.

One last time in the Campo de'Fiori

I have been to the Campo de'Fiori a number of times in my seven weeks in Rome. I have suggested visiting the market, looking for historical sights, and stopping in for a few good sandwiches. But if you have some extra time, make sure to get some gelato in the piazza. There is a chain store called Blue Ice on a street a few meters off of the piazza. I did not try the chain while I was here because I wanted to learn more about local culture. If you are looking for a nice treat on one of the sweltering days Rome has to offer, try the bar on the opposite side of Blue Ice.

The store is small but offers most of the flavors you will find in the rest of the small gelato stores in Rome. This one is special because it offers a lively piazza to sit in while you enjoy your treat. If I could make a recommendation, try lemon and strawberry or limone e fragola. The fruity flavors are refreshing on a hot day.

I cannot believe today was my last experience in the Campo de'Fiori. I went to the market in the morning with a few friends and got one more discounted Italia jacket for a special student discount. But I am sure all visitors can talk there way down from the suggested retail price of fifteen Euros to ten Euros. Make sure you take in the small artsy shops. Go in the food stores with specialty meat, cheese and wine. If you are up for it, try out the nightlife at the Drunken Ship or Sloppy Sam's but maybe not more than once. Try a different place for food to avoid the tourist menu. Take everything in while you can with your time in Rome. Don't waste a second. There are things for you to discover in everything piazza and each small winding side street.

America in Rome

As I sit here on my last night and reflect over the past seven weeks, I wonder how I made it through my time in Rome. I was put in a situation with 22 people I did not know, in an apartment with three bathrooms and thirteen girls, and a totally foreign language. How did manage?

As much as I critiqued the American products that I found here in Rome, I think they really helped me out. I do not eat at McDonalds as home, but it was comforting to see the familiar arches. I do drive a Ford, so seeing cars of a similar brand made me think of home. I often wonder how I would have done in a place like Gimmelwald.

Over the past weekend, a few of my friends and I traveled to the small village of Gimmelwald on the side of a mountain in the Swiss Alps. With its stunning population of 150 people, American products were the last things I saw sold in the small store. We joked about running into a McDonalds on our three hour hike through the woods.

Was the joke me yearning for something familiar? How is it going to feel for me to be submersed in American culture and society tomorrow? I have gotten used to pizza cut with scissors, bars that sell coffee, and gelato stores every few meters. As happy as I am to see my family and friends, I am going to miss Rome and the small things that make it function. Will I be more critical of American chains and superstores on my arrival back in the states?

I know one thing is for sure. I will miss walking from our classroom in the Sede under the Doria Pamphilj museum to walk to Remo's pizza shop. I will miss the decision between cheese or tomato. I will miss the owner of the store cutting the pizza he cooked with pride and I will miss his small smile as I tell him thank you. I will miss the pride Italians take in their work that has somehow been lost in American culture.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


During my trip to Zurich this past weekend, I got a firsthand experience with the Euro Cup. Fans flocked Zurich even though the Turkey-Croatia game was located in another city. But chaos still ensued. Riot police were present and fans chanted songs from their countries.

In Italy, it is hard to avoid soccer fever. When Italy won big games, the street outside my window went crazy. Horns honked, people sang and hung out their windows, and Italian flags could be seen everywhere. I always thought American had an obsession to football, our version, but it is nothing compared to the investment fans put into their soccer teams in Europe.

If you are having a hard time imagining the chanting and the scenes of fans, consider a Penn State football game or any other big U.S. college and imagine the noise of the fans before entering the game. To successfully compare this scene to soccer, multiply the image in your head by ten. This man on the left was not the only fan with the emblem of his team buzzed into his hair cut.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Directions to Markets in Rome

To visit the three maps I discussed in my previous blog post, just follow the map above with these directions:
-Begin at the Piramide Metro Station
-Walk down Via Marmorata past Viale M. Gelsomini
-The Mercato di Testaccio will be on your left down Via G. B. Bodoni
-Walk back to Via Marmorata and take a left, heading towards the Tiber River
-Cross the bridge and walk through the Piazza Porta Portese
-Walk up Via di Porta Portese which becomes Via Induno
-Turn right onto Viale Trastevere
-Make your first left onto Via Emilio Morosini
-Take the first right on Via di San Cosimato
-You will run into Piazza San Cosimato where the market is held
-Continue up Via di San Cosimato and through Piazza San Calisto
-Turn right on Via Arco San Calisto
-Make the first left on Via San Calisto
-Walk through Piazza San Apollonia and up Via del Moro
-Walk through Piazza Trilussa and make a left on Lungotevere
-Cross the first bridge Ponte Sisto
-Walk straight down Via del Pettinari which will become Via Arco del Monte
-You will run into Via dei Giubbonari where you can turn left
-You will run into the Campo de'Fiori and the final market

Markets in Rome

Rome has a number of open-air markets sprinkled throughout the city. On the left you will see the market in the Campo de'Fiori. This market offers its shoppers a variety of fresh fruit, meat, poultry, fish, and vegetables. Make sure you check out the stands selling fresh garden salad mixes and the ones selling rice, dried fruit, and candy. At the far end of the market, you will find a beautiful flower stand. A clothes stand also offers very discounted souvenir items.
The Mercato di Testaccio is a covered market. The outside is lined with cheap clothes and shoes, but inside you will find what a number of local shoppers come to buy. Meat and cheese stands line the outside, while fruit and vegetable stand offer shoppers everything they are looking for. Make sure to try the different bread stands for some freshly baked bread.
The market in Piazza San Cosimato is known for its salami and cheese selections. Unlike the market in the Campo de'Fiori, the stands in this open air market are permanent structures. Fruit and vegetable stands can also be found here.
When you are planning to visit these markets, take into consideration that they are only open from 7:30 AM to 1:30 PM Monday through Saturday.

Monday, June 16, 2008

American Cars

When walking around Rome, expect to see nice cars. Even the taxis here are Mercedes-Benz. I can't help but think it must be nice to have access to these cars which are considered foreign in America.

But every now and again, I will come across a Ford or Chevrolet. Even in the land of the Smart Car, I have seen a stretch Escalade Limo. These cars seem out of place to me and I wonder why Italians would want to purchase our American-made cars. Perhaps Americans moved to Italy and brought their cars with them too, but in an environmentally conscious society, these cars seem out of place.

I had a hard time finding statistics about what kind of cars Italians choose to drive or bought the most, but I did find an interesting clip on YouTube. You might be surprised to know that in Venice each year there is an American car club meeting. Check out the cars for yourself at

Another Lunch Recommendation

One thing I find myself missing in Rome is tuna fish. I have been to a number of bars that serve plain tuna on a roll, but I really miss tuna with mayonnaise and lettuce and tomato.
I have blogged about the Forno bakery in Campo de'Fiori in the past and I finally took some time to go there for lunch. I was thrilled when I saw a sandwich stuffed with tuna fish salad! Other choices included salami sandwiches and small pizzas. Everything looked delicious, but I had to satisfy my craving for tuna. It was a good choice and I recommend visiting the Forno if you are also having a similar craving.
I would also recommend trying one or two of their tarts. I selected a small blueberry tart and was quite satisfied. You will be even happier to know that I spent less than four Euros on this filling meal which seems like a steal.
The next time you need lunch on the go, consider visiting the Campo de'Fiori.

Villa Farnesina

Located in the central district of Trastevere, the Villa Farnesina may not look like much from the back. But the lucky traveler is the one who gives the building a chance and heads inside. This villa was built in 1508 by Agostino Chigi.

Visitors to the villa will experience frescoes completed by Baldassarre Peruzzi, Sebastiano del Piombo, and Raphael. When visiting the villa, make sure to see the Triumph of Galatea by Raphael which is a painting of the sea nymph Galatea one of the fifty daughters of the god Nereus. Visitors to the villa will also get to see the Loggia of Cupid and Psyche. The model used in this piece on the left was the mistress of Agostino Chigi.

Visitors to the villa will be enticed by the formal gardens still adorning the front of the mansion. During the Renaissance time period, parties and plays were held here.

I have spent my time here living in Trastevere and visitors to the villa will be pleased with the small bars and trattorias lining the streets. A trip to the Villa Farnesina is a must-see for fresco lovers.

This information can be found in the 2007 Eyewitness Guide to Rome published by Dorling Kindersley. Additional information can be found here

Villa D'Este

Over this past weekend, I made the trip outside the city of Rome to visit Tivoli. I went with the intentions of seeing Hadrian's Villa, a site I previously blogged about. I was only making a day trip with just enough time to visit this villa. I expected Tivoli to be a very small town with not much to do besides visiting Hadrian's Villa.
After a pleasant train ride through the mountains surrounding Rome, I reached Tivoli. I wanted to explore the sight because of the waterfall I had seen on the way. I found out that there was much more than Hadrian's Villa in Tivoli.

The most visited sight in the town is the Villa D'Este. If you are looking for a serene escape from the city, look no further than Tivoli. You will be enchanted by the river flowing lazily by and the sweet smell of the air.

Once you get to the Villa D'Este, you will learn that this old Benedictine convent has unforgettable gardens and fountains. The convent was converted to a palace in the 16th century and the luxury of this lifestyle can still be found in the gardens today. Bernini lovers will be pleasantly surprised to find his Fontana del Bicchierone. The picture above shows the Terrace of 100 Fountains, one of the many fountains in the villa.

Between the train ride through the countryside and suburbs of Rome and the picturesque views of the valley below Tivoli, this day trip will be well worth your time away from Rome and the small admission fee.

The picture above was taken from the following website, At this site you will also be able to find out more information about the Villa. You could also check out the Eyewitness Guide to Rome published by Dorling Kindersley in 2007.

What to Drink in Rome

Once again, the Eyewitness Guide to Rome has proved to be a very useful tool in understanding the city better. The book contains useful information about what places to visit and also information about where to eat and what to drink in Rome. Next to a long list of information about wine, there are also some other recommended drinks to try.

Many Italians enjoy a nice apƩritifs. These drinks are bitter and herb-flavored. Some of the most popular apƩritifs are the Martini, Campari, or Aperol. Italians tend to drink these drinks with ice and a soda.

If you are looking for an after dinner drink, order a digestivi or amari. These drinks will help to settle your stomach after a traditional Italian meal.

For more information about how to get your copy of the Eyewitness Guide to Rome which is published by Dorling Kindersley, visit The information provided above can be found on page 315.

Ostia Antica

If you are looking for a break from the city, consider taking a trip to Ostia Antica. The ruins of this ancient city lie twenty kilometers outside of the city and can easily be reached by taking the metro.
The city once was a thriving sea port along the Tiber River and was populated by over 100,000 people. Today, the ancient city is open to the public and many intricacies of the city can still be seen.
For example, the mosaic shown in the picture to the left can be found in the baths of the city. This mosaic has been reconstructed during the 20th century due to environmental changes causing damage. You can tell which mosaics have been reconstructed by looking at the areas between each tile. If cement is present, the mosaic has been reconstructed. The ancient Romans did not use cement to hold their mosaics together, but rather used a dirt mixture. The reconstruction of this mosaic removed all irregularities found in the initial design and removed the wear of time on the original design. To protect the designs today, water-proof coatings have been applied.
The information in proved in this blog came from the information proved on the signs in Ostia Antica.

Porta Portese

If you are looking for a real Italian experience, check out the Porta Portese open-air flea market. This market is in Trastevere and is open Sundays between 7 AM and 1 PM. Vendors come from all over and line the streets for over a mile. When you are walking up to the market, you will see Italians pull suitcases behind them to carry their purchases. Vendors sell clothes, shoes, and jewelry at low prices. Italians readily dig through the mounds of clothes hastily thrown onto tables to make their selections. Prices for clothes are as low as one Euro. Make sure you are ready to try out your Italian or bring a phrase book because very few vendors speak English. You will also be able to find other treasures such as suitcases, antiques, and household products. If you would like more information about this Italian tradition, visit

Lunch in the Campo de'Fiori

When you are walking around Rome and are looking for a nice lunch spot, try the Campo de'Fiori. All along the streets of Rome you will find a number of panini or pizza shops, but if you are in the mood for a different sandwich try Ristocampo.

This little sandwich shop lets you choose the kind of meat and cheese you would like along with a number of vegetables. Suggested sandwiches are on the wall, or you can make up your own. It's a nice break from the pre-made sandwiches you will find elsewhere in the city. Prices range from four to six euros.

My Experience in Boys Town

On Friday, my CAS class and I visited Boys Town outside of Rome. The research that I had down about the Town prior to going could not prepare me for the experience I would have with these boys. As we were lead through the dorms, classrooms, and recreational areas, more boys followed our group around. In the assembly hall, the bond these boys shared electrified the room. Two older boys joked with a younger boy, but all the while they made sure he felt comfortable on stage. By the end of our tour, boys were coming up to talk to us about where they were from and they all accompanied us to our bus stop. The gratefulness the boys had of their opportunities provided by the town was palpable.

To demonstrate the total success of the program, we met a teacher in the school. He taught computer skills to younger boys. We soon found out that he had come to Boys Town when he was six. He had left for a few years once he turned eighteen, but he soon returned to teach fellow boys. By returning to the school, the ex-boy proved the success of the town. He is one example to prove the success of the idea created in 1951 by Monsignor Carroll-Abbing.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Food for Thought

Well, I finally did it. I skipped the pizza and panini today and tried McDonalds. It was nice to taste some US food, but in the end it made me feel just as sick as it does at home. I felt obligated to try it for this blog topic, but I'm going to leave the American fast food in America from now on.
I have done a lot of traveling recently and seen a lot of American goods not only in Italy, but also now in Spain and France. I have done a lot of thinking about how I feel about seeing these products here and I realized that I have been to extremely touristy areas.
I do not know that I have been necessarily fair about judging American restaurants for their presence in these cities. Americans often travel abroad and are comforted, as sad as it may be, by the sight of McDonalds. Before I can truly judge how much of an emphasis is put on American goods, it will be important to visit a city that is not a tourist hot spot. I have plans to stay in a hostel in the Alps in Switzerland next weekend and I will be interested to see what American products are there, so far off the beaten path.

Boys Town in Rome

The Boys Town of Italy began in 1951 and has so far created 31 institutions. One of these places is the Boys Town Rome that the CAS program will be visiting on Friday. The program focuses on taking in international children often from war-torn areas. What makes these places unique is that the children learn to be active members in society by governing themselves. An important motto for Boys Town is "A Chance at Life."

To learn about the image the organization is creating for itself, it is important to know its mission statement. This says, "Boys' Town of Italy, Inc. mission is to fund charitable institutions and programs that are concerned with the development of children and youth in United States and Italy." If you would like to learn more about this organization, check out their website at

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

America in Barcelona

In my trip to Barcelona this past weekend, I was not surprised to see a number of American products. Eva Longoria once again was advertising ice cream. In Spain, George Clooney even has his own product endorsements.
If you are looking for American fast food, you will quickly find McDonalds, Burger King, Pizza Hut and KFC. I would choose paella any day over these fast food palaces.
And if you are worried about not liking Spanish music, don't let it last for too long because just like in Italy, Madonna is in the top twenty songs and this time, so is Rhianna. You even have the opportunity to go to an Avril Lavigne concert in Barcelona instead of spending time do anything to learn about the culture of Spain.

Spanish Traditions in Barcelona

This past weekend I had an interesting trip to Barcelona. I saw beautiful sites like the Sagrada Familia Church, Guell Park, and the Picasso Museum. I also stayed in the first hostel where I did not feel safe.

But thankfully the Spanish have a tradition of drinking a sweet red wine called sangria. This wine is survived by the glass, quarter liter, half liter, and whole liter. As I sat around watching other diners, I found most ordered a liter for the table.

Sangria is made by putting some sugar, orange juice, and orange and peach slices into however much wine you choose. This is a recipe you should try at home because if the outcome is anything like what I tasted in Spain, you will not be disappointed.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Theatre of Pompey

In the Campo de'Fiori today, the Palazzo Pio can be seen facing the Piazza del Biscione. This palace was built over the ruins of the Theatre of Pompey. If you would like to see these remains, ask at the Pancrazio restaurant.

The theater was built in 55 B.C. and was Rome's first stone-built theater. Before this time, theaters were made of wood and were considered more temporary structures. In order to make this theater permanent, Pompey built a temple to Venus on top.

To the east of this theater was the Porticus of Pompey. On March 15, 44 B.C., it was here that Julius Caesar was murdered. If you want to see this spot, it occurred at the foot of the statue of Pompey where the Palazzo Spada now stands.

If you would like to read more about this, check out the Blue Guide Rome published by Somerset Norton.

San Clemente

An important tourist destination is San Clemente, which can easily be found from the Termini Train Station. To get there, come out of the station and take a sharp left on Via Cavour. On this road, you will pass San Maria Maggiore. Continue walking until you see the Via dei Annibaldi and turn left here. Straight ahead you will see the Colosseum. When the road ends, take a left on Via N. Salvi. Ahead of you, you will see Piazza de Ludus Magnus. Walk past Via Labicana to the next street Via dei San Giovanni in Laterano. San Clemente will be on your left.

In this church, you will be able to see the Paschal candlestick which is an example of Cosmati work. In this church you will be able to walk through the catacombs. Make sure you also see the Apse Mosaic and the 11th century frescoes while you are here.

Finding the Campo de'Fiori

When you reach the Termini Station in Rome, come out and face Piazza Cinquecento. Take a slight left and walk down Viale Einuadi. You will walk up to a circle containing the Piazza Della Repubblica. Take the Via Nazionale which you will find on the left of the circle. Follow the Via Nazionale until it ends and take a slight right down the Via IV Novembre. While you are walking down this road, you will pass the Galleria Colonna on the right. Continue down this road and it will become the Via del Plebiscito. On this road, you will pass the Galleria Doria Pamphilj on your right. Follow Via del Plebiscito until you see the tram. Turn left here on Via Arenula and look for Via del Giubbonari. Take a right here and follow this road until you run into the Campo de'Fiori.

When you get to the Campo de'Fiori, you will see a statue in the middle dedicated to Giordano Bruno, a martyr of science. If you get to the piazza early enough, you will be able to walk through a market containing fresh fruit, meat, and cheeses. This piazza is a very popular spot for nightlife among American students.

Hadrian's Villa

In a small group of students including Toni Conti, Carley Bria, Cole Kitchen, and Courtney Marshall, along with the help of Mike Tumolo, we mapped out the route to get to Hadrian’s Villa.

Go to the Termini train station in Rome. Enter the upper part of the station and locate ticket machines. Search for the train to Tivoli. Once you get to Tivoli Station, locate local bus number 4 which you can take to Hadrian’s Villa. These directions can also be found in the Eyewitness Guide of Rome on page 269.

One of the most striking and best preserved parts of the Villa is the pool and an artificial grotto which were named Canopus Serapeum (the Emperor’s dining table). The Maritime Theater is a circular building within Ionic marble peristyle. This was a private retreat for the Emperor. A circular moat encloses an island where the theater is located. Finally, be sure to visit the Small and Great Thermae (baths) which are well preserved areas for public and private bathing. The small ones were used more privately for the emperors while the larger baths were used for visitors to the Villa. Check out this website for a number of virtual walk throughs of the Villa: