By: Melissa Balding
Hello from Rome!
This morning we traveled from Florence to Rome, where we will spend the final few days of our training trip. Activities on the bus ride ranged among team members from listening to (apparently the sing a long versions) of Nicki Minaj and Taylor Swift classics to memorizing Hamilton lyrics to pensive window gazing to journaling to snacking to sleeping.
We arrived at Hotel Degli Aranci just in time for lunch at the hotel. Lunch included chicken and pasta with a much appreciated vegetable medley. There was also a very, very precious old Italian couple dining with us and I personally found them to represent and inspire love, joy, and all things good. After lunch we checked in and logged in to the free WiFi to find that Hotel Degli Aranci has very cute rooms and to be reminded that our moms are still the only people really texting us.
Shortly after checking in, we were off to tour part of Rome. Serena led us to the metro and a short ride landed us in the center of the city's sightseeing. We began with a walk through Piazza del Popolo, a massive ellipse full of churches, fountains, and monuments. We then continued past many shops and tempting saldis to meet our walking tour guide for the afternoon. When she held up her little flag to help follow her through crowds, I feared that she would be like Miss Ungermeyer and then wondered when we would Paolo. Luckily, the tour guide was not like Miss Ungermeyer and no one has met a Paolo.
It seems to me that Rome is a very large city with a lot to see. However, I am willing to back the claim that this afternoon walking tour covered many of the key sights. We began in Piazza di Spagna. We were told it used to be called Trinità dei Monti, after the church at the top of the steps. After the end of the 17th century, it was given the name we know today after the Spanish embassy and many Spanish ambassadors that lived there. The square features the Barcaccia Fountain at the bottom of the steps, the work of Pietro Bernini and his son, Gian Lorenzo. After watching in horror as children drank directly from the fountain, we were told that we too could drink safely from the fountain and so happily did so.
We had another stop in this area to see the Column of the Immaculate Conception, right outside the still existing Spanish embassy, and were told about the tradition for firemen to place flowers at the top every year on December 8th. We then excitedly followed our tour guide and her mini flag raised high to the Trevi Fountain, never once breaking the buddy system. My first thought about the Trevi Fountain is that it was much more magnificent than I imagined. All fountains should strive to be more like the Trevi Fountain in my humble opinion.
My second main thought is that it may be worth considering renaming it to Selfie Fountain. I am still trying to figure out if it is the language barrier that prevents people from asking others to snap a quick photo, if people prefer the lesser quality photo the iPhone selfie produces, or if there is some other social situation in existence causing the mass of selfie-takers in front of the Trevi. And of course, our team was no exception.
After leaving the Trevi Fountain, we bopped along to the Column of Marcus Aurelius, a Roman victory column in Piazza Colonna that has a spiral relief all the way up it! We then saw a palace that belonged to an important family and another column that was taken from the Egyptians. I'm sorry I forget all the names but they were a lot to remember especially considering we continued on to quickly reach the Pantheon.
The Pantheon was a building we found quite impressive, but also slightly confusing, as there is a giant hole at the top. Nonetheless, it is an astounding architectural feat and astonishingly beautiful inside. We then visited the Church of St. Louis of the French, which was incredibly intricate, as are most of the churches we have seen so far. But this one has quite the ceiling with a lot of gold and a lot of art.
Our last stop of the tour was Piazza Navona. Piazza Navona felt like the team's favorite. Perhaps that is because it covers the track of Rome's first stadium and we could just feel the #sports. Or perhaps it is because it has the Fountain of Four Rivers, a brilliantly designed piece.
Following our tour, gelato was a given. We walked to Giolitti. I wish that I could personally mail each and every person reading this a bite of my pistachio-hazelnut-nutella gelato magic. It was delightful.
Following dessert, we went to a reception with the Harvard Club of Rome. At the reception, the team and coaching staff had the pleasure of meeting many Harvard Alums living in Rome. We were very grateful to have the opportunity to meet alums from the College, the Business School, the Kennedy School, and the Law School. Hearing about their careers and lives post-Harvard and sharing about our Harvard experience definitely helped broaden our perspectives. This event reminded us of how special it is to be a student-athlete at Harvard.
After this event, we grabbed a bite to eat, and yes, of course it was delicious. We ventured home to Hotel Degli Aranci, feeling eager to have yet another new team to train against tomorrow after a day out of the pool today.