I have dreamed of traveling to Rome, the Eternal City, for years. I always longed to wander amidst great ruins, gaze upon the world’s greatest artistic masterpieces, and stroll in the center of Christianity and the smallest country on Earth, Vatican City. Finally, the opportunity became mine for the taking when my high school’s Latin program offered an educational trip abroad to Italy with the EF Tours company. I was thrilled, and awaited the glorious days of sightseeing I had yearned for.
Finally, the anticipated day arrived. I was so excited and anxious on the plane, I could hardly sleep. When we approached Italy, I saw the most beautiful aerial views I have ever seen. Upon arrival in our base city, Rome, I was ecstatic. Though I was exhausted from the flight, I couldn’t blink, I was so busy soaking everything in.
Quarter Finalist 2009 FTF Teen Travel Writing Scholarship
What a mesmerizing week! I was in such awe that everything was a blur. Realization that I was finally visiting places I had always imagined only came to me later. The age and significance of what I was seeing was overpowering and incomprehensible. I enjoyed Italian cuisine and culture, breathtaking views, gorgeous landscapes, and overpowering, awe-inspiring monuments. I wandered the ruins of the Roman Forum, quivered as I touched the ancient walls of the powerful Colosseum, ascended the Spanish Steps, and tossed a coin into Trevi Fountain. Lunching on the Pantheon’s portico, I translated Latin from the monument’s facade, marveled at the dome’s perfect sphere, and tasted my first gelato.
We visited multitudes of churches, one where Galileo was tried, another where St. Paul’s remains lie. I strolled the Piazza Navona, admiring the artists and entertainers. I imagined the lifestyles of the ancient Romans in the ruins of Ostia Antica, reflected upon the suffering of those who died in Pompeii, and snatched a volcanic rock after an exhausting hike up Mount Vesuvius while admiring the view of the Gulf of Naples below. I danced in the rain in Florence, imagining the city’s great Renaissance inhabitants, and marveled at the physique of Michelangelo’s David. We drove through the breathtaking Tuscan countryside, with medieval cliff-top cities scattered amongst fields of sunflowers.
We toured Rome by night, when the city and skies are most beautiful. Standing in St. Peter’s Square, we watched the light in the window of the Pope’s chambers go out. We dined in a restaurant basement whose walls were once an ancient Roman bath. We were personally escorted from the Capitoline Museum, doors closing and lights shutting off behind us, because we stayed too long.
Traveling precipitous cliff-side roads to Sorrento, we feared our bus would tip on the sharp, narrow turns and plummet into the sea. We arrived safely at the beautiful Hotel Albatross, with balconies overlooking the scenic Mediterranean. From there we ferried to Capri, a beautiful resort island. We enjoyed a boat tour of the island’s impressive landmarks. There I first tasted swordfish and dipped my toes into the crystal blue sea.
By trip’s end, I was so exhausted that I fell asleep spontaneously, even nodding off in the middle of taking a picture!
Amidst these wonders, there were also disappointments. Due to the economy, prices were high, and the trip was shortened, so I didn’t get to see many things I had looked forward to. Despite this, it was a memorable trip. I took thousands of pictures! I saw things I learned about in Latin, history, and other classes, which brought my education to life. It was the most amazing trip of a lifetime, and I am awaiting the day when I will return.
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