My Summer in Rome
By Francesca McGinnity
In July of 2018 I visited Italy for two weeks as part of Campion College’s Rome Summer School. The first nine days were spent in Rome, while the last four were devoted solely to touring Florence.
In Rome we studied at the St John’s University campus, only a brief walk from the Vatican, on a street heavily populated with pizzerias and gelatarias. We were given the option to study either a unit of Latin or a unit of Renaissance history, which I took.
Our mornings were spent in lectures and tutorials, and in the afternoons we were taken on tours to many of the famous sights in and around Rome, including the Vatican, the Spanish Steps, the Colosseum, the Pantheon, Santa Maria Sopra Minerva and San Giovanni in Laterno.
The learning we received during the lectures enhanced our touring experience, allowing us to further appreciate the historical sights we visited, bringing to life all that we were studying.
In Florence, we saw the 1446-built Palazzo Pitti, designed by famous Florentine architect Filippo Brunelleschi; we were able to climb la Cupola of the Florentine Cathedral, Santa Maria del Fiore (Il Duomo), walk across the Ponte Vecchio, visit leather, gold, and silk shops, and make countless stops at gelaterias dotted throughout the crowded city!
The experience gave me a deeper understanding of the history of Western Civilisation and cultivated in me a greater appreciation for the achievements of the great thinkers, artists, sculptors and writers of the past. Particularly fascinating was seeing the tangible manifestation of the ideologies which pervaded the Renaissance; the humanist focus on the human ability to achieve incredible things and create beautiful works was embodied in some of the most spectacular churches, buildings and paintings in the world.
My experience of the Rome Summer School was enhanced so much by those who shared it with me, both the other students and the lecturers and staff. I will forever remember sharing a drink with a mix of lecturers, staff and students, alternating between discussions of the Medici to sharing many laughs over the pronunciation of ‘Baroque’, ‘pebbles’, and ‘fresco’ by our well-intending Italian tour guides.
Rome and Florence are such incredible cities, and I know that my experience of both was made richer and more beautiful in the context of Rome School. It was an experience I am truly grateful for and a memory I will treasure forever.