Retreat, Engagement, Bologna….What a week!

This Rome semester has kept me pretty busy… Okay, that was an understatement. This Rome semester has kept me on a pretty busy roller coaster of tours, classes, weekend trips, speed walking from place to place, calloused feet, espresso shots, and the occasional free moment to study… or blog instead. :) This past week was arguably one of the most insane and also my favorite.

Our group started out with a silent retreat weekend outside of Rome. It is always nice to get out of the city. Rome is dirty and loud and smells like a mixture of sewage and balsamic dressing–not that I don’t like Rome, but it is nice to get away. Our retreat center had a beautiful view of the lake, which was great for meditation. This was my first encounter with a silent retreat, so it was a little weird not to talk to all of my friends, who are normally so chatty. The silence was much needed, however. It’s very rare that life gives you a quiet weekend to do nothing but pray.

I was really excited to come back to Rome on Sunday night because my boyfriend, now fiance, was coming to visit me! On Monday, I took him to visit the Vatican, and he proposed to me in St. Peter’s Basilica. You can read all about the proposal here. It was super fun to be his tour guide and show him what I’ve been learning in my art history class. The rest of the day is a blur because I was just so ecstatic about the engagement. My friends took us out for some drinks. Chris definitely deserved one!

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On Tuesday, I had to go to class, so Chris got to see the really exciting place where I take classes (which is actually not exciting at all). Later, Chris and I met up with my Uncle Joe, who is living in Rome, and he took us out for celebratory steak and gelato. This was a great night! I ate so much steak that it felt like I ate a whole cow. It felt good to eat a lot of meat, like in America, when Italy has mostly carbs to offer.

On Wednesday, I showed Chris all of my favorite churches in Rome. We went to St. Mary Major, St. John Lateran, and Santa Croce, which are some of the most famous Roman churches besides St. Peter’s. Then we met up with my uncle again and he showed us some more! In Rome, there are way too many beautiful churches to try to keep track of. Chris enjoyed every moment of it, and he tired me out with all the walking.

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On Thursday I took Chris to see the Pantheon, and we explored more of the city (aka we went shopping and ate pastries). I showed Chris the marketplace where I buy groceries, and I made him authentic Italian dinner. Am I marriage material, or what? I made tomato bruschetta, fresh linguine, and fried zucchini.

On Friday, we went to see some ancient Roman ruins in the old port town, Ostia Antica. This was a class trip, but I appreciated the fact that, for once, we did not have a tour guide. We got to explore on our own, climb through the ruins, and imagine what life would have been like in the 7th century. Later that day, Chris went with the guys to see St. Paul Outside the Walls while the girls took me out for a manicure to go with the new ring on my finger. Before sunset, my friend took some engagement photos of me and Chris by the Villa Bourgese. I would show you, but I haven’t even seen them yet! So much suspense!

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Ostia Antica

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That weekend, I left for Bologna on a class trip where we did an insane amount of touring. We saw half a dozen churches in the short time we were there. My favorite church that we saw was Santa Maria della Vita because it had this incredibly moving terracotta collection of statues. Jesus’ body is laying on the ground while the women gaze on his body. The statues depict five completely different reactions to the grief and anguish that these women felt when they saw Jesus was dead.

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That concludes the craziest week ever. Now, I have to actually focus on studying before midterms next week. Thank you everyone for all the support you have given to me and Chris! I really appreciate it. I can’t wait to come home and celebrate with my family!

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