Ah, Roma. I’m in love with this city. Minus the incessant street carts of identical souvenirs, men shoving roses in your face to try to get you to buy them, Roman soldiers offering pictures for a price, etc. (In summary, much more tourist-y than I thought it’d be). Aside from that, Rome wins hands down. Every street is old and beautiful, with either a courtyard containing an elaborate fountain or a church on the corner of the street, guaranteed. Ancient ruins and monuments are built into the modern city, and life goes on around them like they’re not a big deal. Even the Vatican isn’t spatially removed from the rest of Rome. I wonder if Italians realize the history that floats through the air around them every day. America has absolutely nothing in comparison.

We’ve been almost everywhere so far, except the Colosseum – strange because our hotel is a block from it. We’ve walked past it, but we haven’t gone through the short guided tour by one of the students in our group (everyone is assigned a monument and has to tell the rest of the group about it). We have, however, gone to the Pantheon, St. Peter’s (all the way to the balcony outside the top of the dome), the Trevy Fountain (picture of me and a few other girls flipping coins into it to follow, of course), the Spanish Steps, the Vatican (including the Sistine Chapel, also a given), tens of ornately beautiful churches and much more. Tomorrow, we head to the UN to discuss global agriculture, and an Italian journalist is coming to talk about her job! I’m so excited, especially since I get to give my presentation on the history of the Italian press before she arrives, which will be far less nerve-racking.

Today was also the first day we could do whatever we wanted for dinner instead of going out with the group. Eight of us went with our professor and TA to a nearby restaurant. I split a bottle of red wine with three people, an avocado, mango, corn and lettuce salad with one other person and savored a gnocchi/tomato/mozzarella casserole myself. Soooooo delicious. This is why I came to Italy. That and all the other things I’ve mentioned. I did realize I’ve been spending money like it’s simply paper, though. Wine, souvenirs, laundry, gelato (one per day in Rome and one each in the other places we’ve been), it adds up. I’m going to try to save my pennies from now on. Wish me luck.

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