We landed at 2:45 on Thursday and got a Roma Taxi from Fiumicino Airport to our apartment in Prati, a short walk to the Castel Sant’Angelo and the Tiber. To get to the river you skirt the Piazza Cavour, do a short jog past the north edge of the Castel and – if so inclined – walk across the Pont Sant’Angelo – with Bernini’s Angels, and there you are, a view down the Via Conciliazione to San Pietro, the Centro Storico in front of you, the Tiber beneath you.
I am exceedingly grateful to have this opportunity again – to teach a group of students (and to learn from them) in the Eternal City (and to have the opportunity to learn more from this remarkable place). I am looking forward to getting to know our new students and to introduce them to you all (faithful readers of this blog), and to have you all share in their experience this semester in Rome and Istanbul.
The taxi ride to Prati was quick (traffic was mercifully short) and we zipped past Vespas, past impossible feats of parking, past vendors selling everything from scarves, small resilient balls filled with water (to be smashed stickily onto the ground and slowly re-form. Repeat), pictures of Papa Francesco, tiny statues of the Colosseum, of the Trevi Fountain, of Saint Peter’s of Remus and Romulus and the Capitloline Wolf. We drove past dense outer suburbs, filled with a cosmopolitan mix of people and faces, along old – ancient – walls, ruins, Rome’s beautiful trees (“They look like Truffula Trees, Dad, you know, from the Lorax! Can we paint them pink and green and blue?”), past priests and nuns in their habits, stopping to talk, to hurry to church, past the Fiumi Tevere – it’s brown water moving quickly under bridges, past the past and into today.
It is a great gift to be able to do this again, and I wanted to begin this next round of blogging and musings by reflecting on the past (very quickly, I promise) and then looking forward to tomorrow. On that taxi drive to our apartment, through the landscapes and streets of Rome, I thought of each and every one of the students who did this trip – the inaugural trip – last year, at exactly this time. And I remember how much I enjoyed their company, their hard work, their…occasional lapses in time-management, but most of all their complete and total energy, their unbridled enthusiasm and their sense of abject wonder (you should have seen their faces when they looked up at the Hagia Sophia). Thank you to Keara, Juan, Sara, Andrea, Satavee, Haydar, Rachel, James, Fatemeh, Sarah, Nick and Hannah for kicking this off in so rewarding a fashion.
Here’s looking forward to our next group: Alexi, Leah, Natalie, Ben D., Riley, Shawn G, Theresa, Ashley, Alexandra, Caitlin, Katerina, Shawn H, Ryne, Jeremy, Sam, Zhuo, Ben P., Morgan, Kayla and Tess. Benvenuti a Roma. İstanbul’a hoş geldiniz.