SCO in Rome!
The Program The Places The Learning The Food The Friendship
p. 3 p. 4-7 p. 8-9 p. 10-11 p. 12-13
In early July, 2012, twelve curious students and one inspired professor set out to discover all that Rome has to offer. These intrepid international explorers didn’t quite know what to expect, but they soon discovered they were having the greatest time of their lives! For the next month, Alexa, Alexis, Ashley, Audrey, Becca, Erin, Jenna, Kayla, Kellianne, Meagan, Molly, and Nick, along with Professor “Randy” bonded while learning about life in Italy, past and present; they walked the endless streets of Rome discovering hidden treasures known and unknown, ate, laughed, sweated, explored, climbed an (active) volcano, and swam in the Mediterranean, learning together how much the city and country can change for the better the way you experience life. Culture, comradery, and communication study and practice ensued, and some of what resulted is presented here in the first ever SCO in Rome! Issuu! All of the stories and photos that follow were produced by the SCO in Rome! 2012 students as part of their RTVF 65 International Media class. They capture the emotion and magic of Rome; and hopefully, they inspire others to follow this initial group of ‘Hofstra Romans’ and explore the Eternal City with coming SCO in Rome! programs!
Rome...city of tourists and natives, alike (and aligned), fountains, churches, gourmet delights, shopping and sun, all set in a backdrop of architecture and history in glorious ruin and of ruinous glory! The Amalfi Coast...more history, food, shopping and sun, but now with Mediterranean sea water and breezes, recreation, and the most gorgeous vistas imaginable!
My Historic Moment by Audrie Marton
You could read a hundred books on art and architecture, but nothing compares to the feeling of standing in a piece of history such as an Italian church. While visiting the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, I had a moment of clarity and what can only be described as pure inspiration. I entered one room dedicated to Christ and stared at the sheer magnificence in front of me, not only present in the physical beauty, but in its concept as well. The aesthetics of the church were breathtaking, but the symbolism behind each piece of art held much more weight for me. It was as if I was looking into the life of the creator. I can only imagine how much time and hard work went into a single statue, sculpture or painting. It seems as if it would take a lifetime of focus and dedication to achieve such beauty, an overwhelming and seemingly impossible idea. The art I saw in the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore symbolized faith and commitment, total devotion and above all, humility to idolize another being in such a tremendous way. More than the stringency of a religion, the creators seem to be declaring their love for the spirituality and mysticism within the faith. There is almost something magical in artwork that holds so much meaning, both for the church and for the artist. Although for some it may have been just an occupation to produce art for the church, I would have a difficult time believing it, for the feeling behind the art is much too powerful to dismiss as commonplace. I realized that these churches make me feel connected to history, and completely amazed at the potential we all possess. The people who built these places seem to have devoted their entire lives to spirituality, and it shows in the brilliance of everything. Everything is built with God in mind, with the intention to create beauty, and itâ€™s more than inspiring. It makes me believe anything is possible, and that there is more to life than whatâ€™s right here right now.
Ash, Pumice, and Reflection by Kayla Engeman
While touring the ruins of Pompeii, our group came upon two glass cases containing a few fallen victims to the tragedy that fatefully consumed the city. Mount Vesuvius’s eruption devastated Pompeii in 79 AD, wiping out its entire population. As if by magic, three victims were naturally preserved just by being engulfed by hardened ash and pumice. Beneath the glass, my eyes lay upon a man, whose fists were clenched and whose face bore a mask of clay that showed his furrowed brow and final expression of deep fear and distress as he passed. His teeth, still intact, are visible between his crusted lips, and the curved bones from his fingers have been dusted off, portraying this man’s cream colored core. As I stared at this caged reality, I couldn’t help but clench my own fist, and position it next to this stranger’s; the only thing separating us was a disaster, a few centuries, and a piece of glass. This man, still wearing his belt, was just like every person who came to see him, and one day we too will move on from this world. I found myself wondering who this man was — his job, his home, his family… It was incredible to stand before this real person, who thrived in this world long before any of his current visitors did. His remains were a graceful reminder of the great equalizer— reminders of how similar all people are. We all have bore the same distressed expression as this man, clenched our fists in anguish and experienced the hardships of life. It’s beautiful to think that this man, though silent for centuries, is still serving a purpose: to remind others of our shared mortality and shared purpose.
Beyond the Tiber by Erin Starke
As a New Yorker, The Village is one of my favorite areas of New York City. Once we walked into Trastevere for one of our group dinners, I knew I was in love. The narrow streets lined with warm colored buildings covered in vines is enough to charm any person, yet the community of the area provides it with an exciting vibe, giving the area it’s own personality with the city of Rome.
This area that was at one point a tiny over crowded area is now a cozy escape form the bustling streets of Rome. Trastevere has the perfect combination of the immense history with modern day. Walking through ruins, you have to imagine what the building looked like and how people utilized the area; they are beautiful but can sometime be hard to actually connect with. However, in Trastevere you are part of the history. As people live their daily lives you realize that you are part of a routine that has been carried out for thousand and thousands of years. The area has been restored and developed but it hasn’t lost the authenticity. As you’re walking through the streets you don’t need to imagine what it would have looked like, because although carriages and togas have been replaced with vespas and designer clothes, you can still feel the energy of an old Italian neighborhood. It’s one of the oldest neighborhoods in Rome isn’t in ruins but still functions as a community. The stores and the restaurants have changed, but whatever it is you’re doing you’re still strolling on a cobblestone street under clothesline of drying laundry. Today Trastevere is filled with students and artists that help bring a lively vibe to this charming area. The Trastevere area is a modern day renaissance neighborhood filled with education and art. The mixture of the hunger for knowledge and the free range for creativity can been seen on every corner. The Trastevere area makes you feel as though you live there, like each street is your own. It welcomes you and makes you feel at home, even if it’s just for dinner or a drink.
The Beauty of Positano by Becca Meyer
My favorite place that we went to was Positano. We went to Positano during our excursion on the Amalfi Coast. Before going there, my favorite place in Italy was Capri. Positano is mainly a tourist attraction now, although in the 16th and 17th centuries, this port thrived. Later on, however, most of the inhabitants moved to Australia, causing Positano to go from a thriving port, to a poor fishing village. After John Steinback, author of The Grapes of Wrath, East of Eden, and Of Mice and Men, wrote an essay in the magazine Harper’s Bazaar about Positano in the 1950s, commerce picked up because of the tourist. The church of Santa Maria Assunta is a very prominent structure in Positano. It has a beautiful golden dome that stands out against all the other buildings. Another thing that is amazing about this place is its black sand beaches. I am so used to the white sandy beaches in Maine, that whenever I encounter a rocky beach or a black sand beach, it is astounding. Positano is both a black sand and rocky beach. The sand is so hot that you have to wear your sandals to walk to the water! Right before you reach the water, the sand turns into rocks. Even though walking to the beach is a trek, it is worth it to lay on the sand, swim in the warm Mediterranean, and walk around all the shops surrounded by the true beauty of Positano.
Temple of the Gods By: Nick Ranelle
The Pantheon is one of the landmark buildings in Rome that every tourist places high on their “to do” list. Originally built in 27 BCE by Marcus Agrippa, he dedicated the temple to the 12 Gods of Heaven. However the original building was destroyed and what we see today was reconstructed in 118 CE under the leadership of Emperor Hadrian. The architecture of the Pantheon is nothing short of amazing. The massive granite columns stand a high 40 ft. tall and weigh in at 60 tons each! They tower over even the tallest persons head, and when you look up to see their enormity you also notice the beautifully detailed carvings above. Continuing into the monumental dome you are overtaken by the beauty of the ceiling as the light shines through the small circular opening at the top, or the Oculus. The light pours through the circle perfectly as if it was light shining straight down from the heavens. The opening symbolizes how the sun is the source of all light on the earth, and every year on the summer equinox, the sunlight shines directly through the front doors of the structure. Today the structure continues to be the world’s largest unreinforced concrete dome. The Dome’s Oculus looks small to visitors but is actually 27 ft. across. As one of the best surviving structures from ancient Rome, the influence of the Pantheon on modern architecture has been boundless. Architects from all over the world have studied it and applied what they have learned from the ancient techniques to structures being built even today. The Pantheon is the first temple open to the public for worship. Regardless of what the giant structure was used for in the past, today it is a must stop spot if you are visiting Rome. The dome inside is adorned with gold and marble statues and the way the light shines through the Oculus creates a marvelous view you’ll never forget. The feeling of history as you walk around the dome overwhelms you as you get a glimpse into how important religion was in ancient Rome.
The Learning When did the learning begin and end? Certainly not with the start and finish of each class session!
Culture, cinema, art galleries, ballet, theater, film screenings, Cinecittà ...each contributed to an understanding of all that is Rome but more importantly, of self and the sweetness of life!
A Night at the Globe Theater by Ashley Melfi
It takes years to learn a new language and well, in our case, we only had a few weeks to understand a small portion of the Italian tongue. So, it shouldn’t surprise you when I say, we had a bit of a tough time comprehending the Italian translated version of Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor; that a few of us went to see at the Globe Theater Rome in the middle of the Villa Borgehese. However, laughter is a universal language and needs no tutelage. That’s why the play was an experience I will treasure. I noticed Italian actors are more physical while portraying a role. We may not have been able to understand every word being said, but when the old man pulled down the shoulder of his shirt and raised the inflection of his voice, one could gather he was mocking a woman. Little by little, I was able to put the play into perspective and got the gist of the story. Was it the easiest theater going experience I have ever had? No. Is it one that I will remember? Absolutely.
The Food Did we eat and drank well?...uh, did the Romans build an historic empire? From three hour meals to three minutes of the heavenly sweetness of sun-dripped gelato, we ate it all. On the way to seeking the eternal pizza (some say Rome’s, others say Naples’), we tasted wine in Tuscany, discovered prosciutto and ‘real’ tomatoes, and got out of our gustatory comfort zones by eating seafood with heads still on, meat in forms never seen before (ahhhh, carpaccio!), and other native delights we’ll never shy away from again.
Gelato vs. Ice cream By: Meagan Luevano
Gelato in the morning. Gelato at night. I have had an infatuation with this desert this month in Italy, and its one that I do not want to get rid of when I head back to the states. Dating back to Ancient Rome and Egypt, the Italian desert’s popularity has grown immensely making feeding my craving so much easier due to the numerous gelateria’s on every block. To your surprise gelato is not just a tasty desert but is also a nourishing food. It is made from 100% natural products. Compared to American ice cream, it is both lower in fat and calories. The flavors of gelato that contain milk and nuts hold the necessary protein needed for daily health as well as sufficient vitamins for the human diet. Taste wise it blows ice cream out of the water. It melts in your mouth and has a wider variety of flavors. Because of its high density and no added air, the flavor is very rich and creamy. American ice cream manufacturers add air into their product to double their quantity making the taste less rich and creating a lower quality product. Gelato is also served in a different manner and degrees. It is served 10 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than ice cream so when you do treat yourself it melts in your mouth. My new favorite flavors from Gelateria dei Gracchi are Apple and Cinnimon or the Pear and Carmel that I get on a sugar cone with a dollup of crème right on top. Its taste is so real and completely inexpressible, not to mention Gelateria dei Gracchi is a 2 minute walk from St. Johns.
3 Gelato Tips Pick a flavor you have never tried. Choose by the looks of the gelato rather than the title. Always try different gelaterias so you find your favorite spot.
Favorite Restaurants A review by Molly Sestak
Vero Via Marcantonio Colonna, 30 00192 Rome, Italy Metro: Lepanto on Line A Food to Get: They have amazing waffles and pancakes that can be combined with fresh fruit or Nutella. The waffles taste very different from the American version of waffles since they cook them with a little bit of sugar on top, making them a delicious treat! They also have great coffee to go here, the only place we have found so far with this amenity that reminds us of home.
Bruschetta at Randy’s flat
Where’s the Beef? by Audrie Marton
The food in Italy is enough of a reason to make the trip. It’s the freshest of the fresh and the best of the best. Every dish is created with delicate care and an attention to detail that is unmatched. From the seasoning, to the wine, Italians know how to eat well. Food is to be enjoyed, so every effort goes into ensuring the quality of the ingredients along with a relaxed feeling at the dinner table. However, there is one big difference in Italian menus that could leave some Americans dissatisfied. The selection of red meat is scarce, and when it is found, that steak will be incredibly expensive. After almost two weeks without a solid serving of meat, I was craving pure protein, especially after exerting so much energy during the day travels. One night in Sorrento, I decided to splurge and ordered a steak in a porcini mushroom sauce and “crispy potatoes” which are just roasted potatoes. It may have been one of the greatest decisions I have ever made, as it was certainly one of the best meals I have ever enjoyed. I can’t remember being so happy about a meal in a very long time, and I had already been in Italy for half a month. Just this past week the group dinner was held at a meat oriented restaurant, a rare find. As an appetizer, we were served pieces of raw meat. Some of the meat was sliced Carpaccio style and some of it shaped like small uncooked meatballs. This was a specialty of the restaurant, which raised their own meat and provided the freshest cuts possible to patrons. In a country known for its pasta, pizza, and gelato, a steak could be the best meal you have.
Bir and Fud Via Benedetta, 23 00153 Rome, Italy Metro: Unfortunately there is no metro that goes to Travestere Food to Get: The beer, of course, is a must as well as their pizza. My favorite was their marinara pizza. Their prosciutto and melone was the best that we have had in Italy that now has become my new favorite treat! Alfredos Piazza Augusto Imperatore, 30 00186 Rome, Italy Metro: Spagna on Line A Food to Get: Since it was the birthplace of fettuccine alfredo I would of course recommend that! It was incredible. The house white wine was also great! One of the best white wines we have had so far. Da Vito e Dina Via Degli Scipioni, 50 00192 Rome, Italy Metro: Ottaviano San Pietro – Musei Vaticani on Line A Food to Get: For a second course we had their veal, which was prepared like the Roman specialty. They also have great carbonara and all’amatriciana pasta for the first course. The tiramisu for dessert was also fabulous and different from any tiramisu I have ever tried.
The Friendship Twelve acquaintances at Hofstra become one group of lifelong friends in Rome. And the city itself? ...another friend to be visited with and shared with family and loved ones for years to come!
Becoming A Local by Erin Starke
As our final days of Rome are upon us all I can do is look around at all the things I’m going to miss about this beautiful place. Rome has become our home. From the security men that sit at the front desk to the pizzeria down the block and our local breakfast stops, we’ve gotten so used to our daily Roman routines. We’ve gotten so accustomed to seeing these people each and everyday. It’s safe to say that we Hofstra Romans have become regulars at a number of the establishments around St. Johns. When I actually take a second to think about the fact that a café in Rome knows my breakfast order, it reminds me of how amazing this experience has been and how fortunate I feel.
Back in New York there are so many chains stores and you may have a few places that know you but here in Rome people are actually excited to see you again, and they make it clear. Even at the places you grab your food to go, it’s not a rushed environment. The people working actually perk up and smile when we walk in, as if a friend came to visit. They’ll joke and laugh with us as we order, ask how we are or what we came to Rome for with genuine interest. It’s not for good customer service, it’s just being polite and genuine. And I mean, who wouldn’t want to be greeted for their morning cappuccino with “Ciao Bella!”
As we say it’s out last week and see the disappointment, it’s clear that this feeling of connection goes both ways. I’m proud that as Hofstra Romans we’ve made these little connections with the place and people around us. It’s hard to part with these places but as we say our good byes it’s nice to know that we will be missed as well and that we’ve made our little impact on Rome.
Some Travel Tips for the Hofstra Romans! ~Look into weekend excursions before hand. Do your research and know where you are staying and make sure it is near popular destinations and a safe area. ~ Know your stomach. If you know something is going to make you sick, don’t eat it. You’ll find something equally as good at the next restaurant you attend. ~Bring plenty of camera memory cards and batteries! You’re going to take triple the pictures and videos as you think you are going to take. ~Bring electrical adapters. It’s hard to find them once here and you don’t know if they are trustworthy. ~You’re going to sweat a lot. Think of that when packing clothes for touring. ~Buy your toiletries at your destination. Bringing bottles of shampoo, conditioner, etc., adds a good amount of weight to your suitcase that could potentially put you over the 50 pound limit. ~Bring a nalgene/camelback/water bottle. Rome has aqueducts everywhere, and bringing a bottle saves you the money you would spend buying bottled water and then refilling that. Plus, St. John’s has free water from the refrigerator. ~If you hear whistling, hissing, and the crowd pleasing, “Ciao Bella!”, don’t be alarmed. Boys in Italy are excited that you are an American girl! But if you aren’t interested; don’t pretend like they know what you are thinking. Because they are a different culture, and see advances differently than American boys. So make your intentions clear from the get-go, this is a situation where you need to be black and white. ~Pack light. There are so many opportunities to shop in Rome, if you pack light then you can buy your wardrobe here and have no worries about getting home on the flight with the right weight limit for your suitcase. ~Bring a scale to weigh your suitcase because you WILL buy things while you are here! It is better to find out your suitcase is overweight the night before rather than in the airport an hour before your flight. ~Stay at least one weekend in Rome to experience the city in a different way and so you do not get too burnt out before the end of your trip. ~Tell your bank that you’ll be going out of the country and using foreign ATMs ~and last, but not least, enjoy EVERY second you have while studying abroad. It is the experience of a life time!
Contact: Randal Hillebrand, Program Director Dempster Hall, Room 120 516-463-5205 email@example.com