Titan Tattler: When in Rome

Published 12:07 am Thursday, July 11, 2024

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By Claire Reinthaler

For the Clemmons Courier

Hello, Clemmons Courier readers! It’s so good to be back writing with the Courier for the last few months before I head off to college at UNC Chapel Hill. I’ve been away these past few weeks for good reason: spending 11 days studying abroad in Italy.
It’s something I’ve dreamed of doing my entire life, traveling the world. Growing up, I would hear fantastical stories from my friends about places they had visited, and my hunger to learn more about the world grew. Years passed. Finally, when the second semester of my junior year back in early 2023 rolled around, I got wind of the opportunity of a lifetime, one that I absolutely couldn’t pass up.

I got a job and worked all summer and the entirety of my senior year to pay for a spot on the school-sponsored Ancient Italy trip that my Latin teacher was running through Worldstrides, a company that sets up such trips for school groups. This summer, it was finally the time.

I couldn’t have asked for a better or more enriching way to start my last summer before college. I could have told you beforehand that this trip would’ve been the best 11 days of my life, but I certainly couldn’t have articulated anywhere close to what made it so special.

But more on that later. Firstly, the trip itself.

So much of my time in Italy was so overwhelming; for once in my life, I mean this in the best way possible. The grandeur of so many of the sights we saw is incomparable to anything we can see or experience in the United States. From popular historical sites like the Colosseum and Pompeii, to lesser-known sites like Hadrian’s Villa, to the seaside cities of Sorrento and Capri, everything exists on such a large, magnificent scale.

When in Rome (a phrase my friends and I did indeed use a lot to justify a lot of things), the concept that blew my mind the most was that these massive historical places are just located in the middle of random city blocks. Imagine being in New York City or Chicago and just casually stumbling upon a building that has existed since essentially the beginning of the common era. It’s so mind-boggling to see these structures that are thousands of years old seamlessly integrated into a modern, working city.

The other thing that impressed me the most was the food: not just the taste, but the quality. Being that I was in Italy, the pasta capital of the world, I ate a great deal of very carb-heavy, rich meals, meals that would have left me feeling overly full if I had had them in the U.S. But in Italy, my stomach didn’t hurt at all from any food, and I felt that everything I ate made me perfectly full. Now, some of that can definitely be attributed to the amount of physical exertion we were getting by walking around so much every day, but the majority I attribute to the quality of ingredients being used by these restaurants. The amount of fresh produce markets and clean ingredients being used to cook was truly refreshing, and it made the whole experience so much more enjoyable, knowing that care was taken in curating the ingredients as well as preparing them.

I could go on and on about every little incredible detail that I was so lucky to experience, but that would take me another month or two to compile into one place. Back to my first thought: what truly made this trip so special?

While overseas, I felt like I had the world at my fingertips. Quite honestly, the thing that frustrated me the most while I was in Italy was that I could just hop on a train and go pretty much anywhere in Europe for fairly inexpensive rates if I wanted to and that I wasn’t actually going to get to do it. While part of my dream has been achieved, more than ever, this trip has left me yearning for what else is out there, and I think that is such an amazing thing.

There will always be more of this world to discover. One day, I hope to experience as much of this blue and green marble we call home as I can.