This weekend, my program had a special Rome Weekend planned for us! We got to do lots of exciting things like visit St. Peter’s Basilica again, have an aperitivo with our program director, do some final souvenir shopping, and go to church and have a sports day at the North American College!
Friday technically served as a make up day for classes that we missed on Easter Monday. So, I had the chance to sleep in a bit, get some work done before lunch, eat at campus, and then have a make up film class. After class, my friends and I went to Old Bear for dinner. Old Bear is a restaurant just outside of Piazza Navona. At the beginning of the semester, our program gave us a series of gift certificates that we could use at Old Bear. So, we try to go once every weekend to use these vouchers. Old Bear has lots of good traditional pasta dishes to try, so it doesn’t get old! My favorite dish there is the eggplant lasagna. This particular trip to Old Bear was special because it was probably our last! We might go sometime this coming weekend, but since we have finals throughout the weekend, we will probably end up eating on campus or staying closer to campus for meals. It was so sad to experience my first last here in Rome! I had my favorite pasta dish of all time, spaghetti carbonara, to celebrate the bittersweet moment. After dinner, we went to Frigidarium for gelato also for what was probably the last time. In all it was such a great night, but it was hard to begin to say goodbye to two places that are very representative of my time here in Rome!
The next morning, we got up early to go tour St. Peter’s Basilica for Baroque class. The Basilica was very crowded and it made it very difficult to find our professor. Once we found her, we still had difficulty getting around in the Basilica because it was so packed. After a bit of a struggle and almost losing the professor, we made it to the Pieta. We were taking notes when some guards began talking to my professor. I assumed that they were asking us to move since we had been in the same spot right in front of the Pieta for a while. When I turned around, though, I found out that we were not being asked to move because we had been in our spot for too long but because BERNIE SANDERS was right behind me??!! I was absolutely shocked! He asked us a bunch of questions like where we were from, what we were doing in Rome, how long were we there, where we go to school, and what we study. He also said that we needed to get home soon because we have an election going on back home! It was so surreal to be talking with a presidential candidate! Regardless of any of our political views, our entire class was freaking out and completely ecstatic! He was there with many of his family members. They were all very sweet. He sounded just like he does when you watch a debate on TV. Between being so excited about seeing Bernie Sanders and the Basilica being so crowded, it was very hard to continue class. So, we attempted to talk about a few more things inside, but cut class short because it was too hard to stay together and find the professor. After class, my friends and I got lunch near the Vatican and then shopped a bit to buy souvenirs for friends and family. After a while, we hopped on the metro to meet our program director at the next to last metro stop on the B line. He picked up me and five other students to go to aperitivo at his house. It was so exciting to drive around his neighborhood. He showed us the square colosseum and a cute park. When we got to his house, we met his dog, Domingo. Then, we took Domingo for a walk. After that, we ate and talked about our favorite parts of the semester. Our director has an extensive art collection from all of the different places he’s been around the world (51 different countries!) and it was so interesting to hear him tell the stories of how he got each piece! Soon, we went back to campus after a great day!
On Sunday, we got up early to go to the North American College (NAC). The NAC is a school for seminarians here in Rome from the US, Canada, and Australia. When we arrived, Deacon Matt and Deacon John were there to greet us and take us to the chapel where we had Mass with all of the seminarians. Their choir was so large and so amazing! After Mass, we went up to the terrace of the NAC which has a beautiful view of St. Peter’s. Then, we had some homemade bagels, eggs, and bacon for breakfast. Down on the field below the terrace, the seminarians were having their annual baseball tournament, so we watched that for a while. They also had a race around the track that was fun to watch. Then, we changed into comfy clothes and waled to the Villa Doria Pamphilj park. Some of the group played ultimate frisbee which was also fun to watch. Then, my friends and I left to head back to campus. After a brief stop at the grocery store, we got back and started on some work for our last week of classes!
The highlight of the weekend was definitely meeting Bernie Sanders. I hadn’t seen the news the day before, so I did not know that he was in Rome. I will never forget the shock of turning around to see a presidential candidate five feet away. He was so kind to take the time to talk with us. It was interesting because, as a group of college students, we are one of his biggest target groups for getting votes. For everyone in my class, it is the first presidential election where we are old enough to vote. Also, when I was walking away to follow my professor to our next lecture spot, an Italian man stopped a few of us to ask who the man was that we were all so excited to see. We told him that it was a presidential candidate. Having this interaction reminded me how perfect the timing was and how lucky we were that we were right by where he entered the Basilica!
The lowpoint of the weekend was trying to get around in the Basilica through the crowds. It was impossible to move as a group, and my professor frequently got so far ahead of us that our headsets would go out of range and we could not see or hear her. Somehow, we were able to catch up to her twice without hearing or seeing her, but by the time we would find her she had already started lecturing. So, we missed parts of the notes because of the crazy crowd. People were just everywhere and it made class very exhausting and frustrating. I was very glad that my professor felt the same way and ended class early.