In the past few years, I have traveled out of the country three times. Although, nothing compares to the time I spent with my closest friends over spring break my senior year. A year ago, a group of my closest friends signed up with EF tours to spend a week in Italy and Greece. Time flew by and eventually we passed each other in the hallways and counted down the days ‘til we departed. We were psyched when we all arrived in front of school and said “bon voyage” to our parents.
First stop, Rome. We exited the plane jetlagged, however ready to spend our first day in Europe. Our tour guide, Margarita, was the most amazing world traveler I had ever met. She stayed with us the entire trip and played a major part in showing us everything we wanted to see and get the full experience of both Italy and Greece. She took us to see the Vatican on the first day. I was breath taken by its beauty and immensity. The History In the city of Rome itself was overwhelming. I often found myself getting chills of how historic and important everything was around me. My favorite part of Vatican City was walking into the Sistine Chapel. I was speechless when I looked up at the ceiling and saw the world famous paintings such as the Creation of Adam. I was in complete awe. This feeling came over me every day as saw new things and never took for granted the once in a lifetime experience.
The next day, we were still in Roma, as the Italians say. Early in the morning, we went to the Coliseum. It was mind blowing to see the actual size of the stadium and to know that thousands of men died where I was standing. I felt as if I had stepped into a scene from the movie Gladiator. We then saw the rest of ancient Rome such as where Caesar was stabbed and buried, where the pope lived at the Vatican, the Spanish steps, countless amounts of basilicas, and statues around the city. I instantly fell in love with the Italian language, beauty, culture, food, and everything else that came along with the city of Rome.
Overnight, the first earthquake in Rome in thirty years hit sixty miles away from us. We were awoken by our mountain side hotel shaking. We all scattered into the hallway and didn’t know where to run. It turned out to be devastation in the town where the epicenter was. Thankfully we were far enough away to not be too affected by it. This was an experience all in itself.
After the dreadful earthquake, we faced more natural disaster at Pompeii. This city was astonishing to see because of how well preserved the ash from the volcano kept it. Also, in the city of Pompeii, we stopped for authentic pizza. I can still taste the mouthwatering Italian cuisine. The next few days were spent on an overnight ferry to Greece, a night on the beach of Tolo, touring Mount Olympus and Athens, and a cruise of the Greek Islands. The Parthenon was my favorite in Greece, besides the magnificent islands. The water was so blue; it was gem like, translucent sapphire to be exact. I gained so much knowledge in that week and a new appreciation for culture and history. It was something I will always remember and cherish that I had such an opportunity. My life will be changed forever, as I left my heart in Italy.
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