Speculation of our study abroad program ending early due to the Covid-19 outbreak in Italy was the big talk for about two weeks before we heard the final news. It was a Friday night when I read the email that the Arcadia in Rome Spring 2020 program had been terminated, and that we had to move out of our apartments by the following Friday, March 6. As I was in Prague when I received this news, the realities that faced me in Rome felt unreal, and I could not believe that I soon would be in the United States. There were so many trips I had planned across Europe, towns I wanted to visit in Italy, and everyday places I still wanted to experience in Rome, yet my time to do so was cut short. I flew from Prague to Fiumicino Airport early that Sunday morning, knowing I would soon say goodbye to the friends I had made and the city that I fell in love with.
While most of the other students in the program flew back to the United States that Sunday or Monday, I booked my flight for Thursday, March 5. In no way was I ready to return home, yet I understood the seriousness of the situation and made the best of it. I needed the time to walk through the entirety of the city to appreciate the beauty, culture, and (most importantly) the food. I was proud of myself for really exploring the city during the little time that I had, yet there was one more place on my bucket list that had yet to be checked off, the Vatican Museum and the infamous Sistine Chapel.
That Monday I hopped on the metro at the Garbatella Station and made my way to the Vatican. Knowing that this would be one of my final metro-rides throughout the city, I found myself viewing the metro in a whole new light. The diverse nature and liveliness of this public transportation is only a glimpse of how special this city really is, and I was thankful to have experienced this. I then arrived at the Vatican Museum, where the crowds to see the famous art and sculptures were massive. Throughout my Museum Practices course, we learned how to really observe and appreciate art, which I was ready to do within my last visit to a Roman museum.
The Vatican Museum is nothing less than a grand display of gorgeous art and objects that have been collected throughout the history of Christianity. There is something to be observed no matter where you look. All of the ceilings are extravagantly filled with tiny details, that seemed impossible for a human to create. There was so much to see and observe, yet some pieces stood out to me than others.
The statue of the Laocoon was surrounded by tourists, yet the distinct details of the man and his son’s muscles were prominent from afar. I always wondered, how could someone so accurately carve marble? I was in awe the entire time I was in the museum, especially when I walked into the Sistine Chapel. The entirety of every wall was covered with artwork. I was amazed at what I was seeing and so badly wanted to take a picture. Although I did not know what most of the painted biblical scenes were, I sought out The Creation of Adam. Michelangelo’s Last Judgement was also so hard to miss. I stood amongst hundreds of other people staring at these works of art and could not believe the sheer detail and beauty in front of me. If I had left Rome without seeing these works of art in person, I would have regretted not having the opportunity to see some of the greatest works of art in the world.
Visiting the Vatican Museum on one of my last days in Rome was an experience I am so grateful for. I know for a fact that without taking Museum Practices, I would not have had the skills needed to truly appreciate the great art within the Vatican. This class has really taught me the importance of taking the time to truly observe and appreciate your surroundings. I believe that this skill not only is beneficial when visiting museums, yet it is useful in everyday life. Being aware of what is around you only allows you to appreciate your surroundings more. When arriving in Rome, I made a great effort to stay present and grounded so that I would get the most out of my experience. I learned a great deal of factual and cultural information while I was abroad, which I could never had learned any other way. I will never forget the 6 weeks I spent exploring the city of Rome and all that it has to offer, and I will definitely be back one day.