SBCC in Rome: The Art and Beauty of Italy

Today’s post comes from SBCC student blogger Carly Schwan, who spent her Spring Break introducing her boyfriend to the wonders and beauty of Italy. Exploring the sights, sounds, and tastes of Rome and Florence, the two spent an unforgettable week basking in the splendor of Italy’s architectural and artistic monuments.


While I have come to know my own corner of Rome, in all actuality, I have only touched the surface of this magnificent city. It is shocking to think I only have a month left. While I feel like I’ve been here forever, I’m not even close to wanting to say goodbye. So when spring break started to approach, I had no desire to leave the country, deciding to stay while many of my classmates flew all across Europe. And with my boyfriend coming to visit, I was nothing but excited to explore my favorite gems of Italy again as if for the first time. There is something magical about those first few moments after you realize that you are standing in an ancient world. Every time we went to a new landmark, I would be watching to see that initial reaction of awe. When you finally experience Rome’s wonders first hand, you get so caught up in the revelation of history that there is no time to perceive anything else around you. And while places like the Colosseum still take my breath away, seeing my boyfriend’s eyes light up as we approached it reminded me of how fleeting my time here is, how much of a gift every second is in this sprawling hub of history.

My favorite parts of Italy, however, reside in the bits I cannot plan for: street vendors I have stumbled upon, the fountains and parks I had no idea existed. The intricacy of the 900-plus churches scattered across Rome will always fascinate me; every few blocks there is a new one to be discovered. Over my 7 weeks here I have come to learn that no church in Italy should be overlooked, they are all artistic centers — even if the outside seems lackluster, the inside of a church has never failed to amaze me. Some of the churches are adorned with gold trim, others have intricate murals and sculptures and arches. I am yet to encounter one that was anything less than amazing. And, well, there’s just something wildly compelling about this city for artists. They flock here with their eyes wide, trumpets and paintbrushes alike held high. A stroll through Piazza Navona can be accompanied by the smooth melodies of jazz, a woman twirling a baton of fire and a man spray-painting beautiful pieces of art. One of my favorite moments from this trip, however, was during our excursion to the Pantheon, where we happened upon a choir showcase. Their angelic voices rang throughout the 2000 year old building, sending chills down my spine. We could not pull ourselves away from the performance, captivated by the lure of their voices and our extraordinary luck at arriving during their concert.

And while the vast city of Rome has become my home, my love for Florence’s small town feel drew me back for the last portion of my break. My obsession for All’Antico Vinaio’s La Favolosa sandwich drew me in every afternoon while we were there. Food adventures were perpetually followed by delicious gelato halls and miles and miles of walking to combat the pain of being so blissfully full. Simple strolls were always made more interesting by the active graffiti artists within the Florentine community. And, of course, there is the majestic Duomo, a sight that I am fairly sure will always leave me breathless. But, as always, it was the unexpected moments that made the trip so remarkable. Walking back from dinner on our last night in Florence, we noticed that the Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral was open with no line in sight (a shocking contrast to midday’s 3-hour-long wait). The cathedral is stunningly white, the hush of the night adding to its majestic allure, composed of sprawling arches, a flowery altar, and a beautifully painted dome. The train ride back was bittersweet; I was happy to have gone there and sad to have left. Even now, I dread the moment I have to officially say goodbye to Italy as a whole. I have come to truly love my new home, and the knowledge and beauty to be found here.

~Carly Schwan, SBCC Rome

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