A few days into the semester, I had recommended the students see the church of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva. Built upon the former Egyptian Temple of Isis – long mistakenly thought to be that of the Greco-Roman goddess Minerva – the church is the spiritual home of the Order of Preachers here in Rome. It was likely Christianized in the eighth century by Pope Zachary. Pope Alexander allowed the Friars to use it in the thirteenth-century, and by 1275 it became officially Domincan. In the 16th Century, the surrounding buildings came to house the College of St. Thomas Aquinas, then the forerunner of today’s Angelicum, which is named in honor of the “Doctor Angelicus” himself. In 1628, it was used as a tribunal for the Inquisition. It was where, in 1633, Galileo was convicted as being “vehemently suspect of heresy” for his non-Copernican worldview. And it houses the remains of two of the most historically significant Dominicans: the blessed Fra Angelico (1395-1455) and Doctor of the Church, St. Catherine of Siena (1347-1480).
For its centrality to Roman history, Christian history, and specifically the history of the Dominican Order, Santa Maria Sopra Minerva is an absolute must-see for our students. Besides all this, it is one of the most beautiful churches anywhere in the world. With its deep lapis-colored ceiling dotted with stars, it is the last remaining Gothic Church in all of Rome. It showcases Michelangelo’s 1521 ‘Christ of Minerva’ and Bernini’s haunting 1647 memorial to Sister Maria Raggi.
A number of our students, taking the suggestion to attend Mass at Santa Maria, had a unique and irreproducible experience. I’ll let them tell the story in their own words.
Michael Splann: “My roommates and I walked about a half hour on one of the hottest days of the year to arrive at the gorgeous gothic basilica for their 11am mass in Italian (which proved to be less difficult than we thought it would be to follow along).
Matthew Branagan: “The outside façade is largely undecorated and could even be considered unnoticeable. However, we found that the interior was exciting and remarkable. We found our seats in the wooden pews, in silent awe of the majesty before us. The mass began and although it was completely in Italian [we were able to understand some of it]. After we were ready to leave, both Michael and Aiden both wanted to light a candle for a prayer in front of St. Catherine’s altar.
Aiden McGoldrick: “As I was saying a prayer at the tomb of St. Catherine of Siena after mass, the priest who had said the mass approached […] Mike and I. He began asking us questions such as where we were from and why we had attended his mass. We got to talking and he told us his name was Father Cassianderbes and was a Dominican priest at the church.”
Michael Splann: “He showed my roommates and me all around the basilica including a room in the back sacristy where St. Catherine died and he allowed us to go inside the enclosure to see the tomb up close.”
Charles McDonald: “Giving us some information, he told us that the tomb was only open one day a year (on her feast day I believe) and that the line to go inside would be incredibly long. After a brief pause he said, “So do you guys want to go in?” I cannot express how shocked we were at this incredible offer. We honestly thought he was joking. But lo and behold, Fr. Cassian got the key to her tomb and opened it up to let us in. Fitting about three at a time, we took turns saying prayers, taking pictures, and simply marveling at the opportunity we had just been given. Quite simply, it was one of those rare opportunities that we would simply never get if we stayed back at PC. It is a perfect example of an experience that I personally came to Rome in search of.
After seeing St. Catherine, Fr. Cassian then took us to the room in which she lived and died in. If going in her tomb was a once in a lifetime experience, going to that room must have been a once in 1,000 lifetimes experience. […] Between the tomb of St. Catherine of Siena and the room she had lived and died in was actually the church sacristy. It was at one point, the venue in which two separate popes were elected. I will never forget that as we first walked into the room Fr. Cassian pointed to a painting over the door and said, “That painting depicts pope Nicholas V being elected during the 15th century. Do you know where that was?” Shaking our heads no, he pointed to the opposite side of the room and proclaimed, “At that very spot”. And lo and behold, by comparing the painting to the spot he had referenced, it was clearly the spot Pope Nicholas had been elected. Personally, it was a powerful moment comparing that painting to the actual spot in the room. So often do we go to spots of great historical significance but to have that side-by-side comparison of what had happened and what is there now allowed us to really step into the past and vividly imagine a papal conclave occurring some 600 years ago.”
Matthew Branagan: “With utmost certainty, I can say that venerating Saint Catherine’s tomb was the most holy place I have ever been in my entire life. The experience was exceptionally humbling and I was reminded of Saint Catherine’s virtuous life. I contemplated her devotion to the faith and the intense majesty it inspired within me. The feeling of being in such a beautiful basilica combined with having the opportunity to praise St. Catherine still sends chills up my spine. The coincidence of running into a friar that knew one of us and that exact mass was nothing short of Providence. I still cannot believe that this event took place, but I know that I will be eternally grateful for such an incredible educational and spiritual event.”
Aiden McGoldrick: “For my friends and I to be given such an incredible and once in a lifetime personally guided tour is definitely one of the most memorable experiences that I think that I have had in Rome so far. I have never experienced anything like this back home. […] Everyday I am learning something new about the city and its history. Everyday I am learning more and more about the Catholic church itself in Rome. Everyday I am growing and learning something new about myself as a person. I am seeing all of these incredible things and it has changed me for the better.”
Charles McDonald: “I came to Rome to have a unique experience; one that I could never have staying in Providence, Rhode Island. Going inside of the tomb of St. Catherine, seeing where she lived and died, standing in a room in which two popes were elected, and seeing the visible effects of Napoleon are the types of experiences that I came in search of. I feel incredibly lucky to have had the opportunity to go where I went and see what I saw because I know it was absolutely a once in a lifetime experience.”
Michael Splann: “Fr. Cassian and I have already met up again since then. The Dominican community is one of my favorite things about PC and is something I had thought I would miss coming here to Rome, which is why meeting Fr. Cassian that day gave me great hope. As I reflect on this experience on my first Sunday in Rome, I am reminded that it’s truly God’s “Providence” that has led me here to the Eternal City this semester and I look forward to encountering everything He has planned.”
Rome continues to surprise us. A few days into the semester, I had recommended the students see the church of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva. Built upon the former Egyptian Temple of Isis – long mistakenly thought to be that of the Greco-Roman goddess Minerva – the church is the spiritual home of the Order of […]MORE
All of our day trips and Friday excursions have as their goal some sort of Italian cultural immersion. But this outing could have even been dubbed an “environmental immersion”. The Ninfa Gardens, declared a protected natural monument in 2000, include ruins of a medieval town, an English-style romantic garden, a 17th century hortus conclusus, a river, and a lake. The best time for viewing is the Spring with an extravaganza of blooming plants, flowers, and trees.
This day trip was part of the curriculum of the popular “Environmental Ethics” and “The History of the Culture of Food and Wine in Italy” classes offered to P.C. students this semester by CEA. Not a bad homework assignment!
Ninfa combines history, architecture, and nature. One of the internationally famous aspects of the Gardens is its micro-climate and rare eco-system due to its location between the two contrasting geological formations of the Pontine plain and the Lepini hills. It faces south and has at least four natural springs feeding the gardens with pure spring water and keeping the atmosphere temperate.
It is well known that Pope Francis has made environmental awareness part of his pontificate. His 2015 Encyclical Letter, Laudato Si, is a breakthrough in papal teaching concerning the common care of creation. In numerous speeches and press conferences the Pope has emphasized the moral dimensions of protecting the environment. Both the Environmental Ethics class and the Italian Food and Wine Culture class have considered this important document of Pope Francis.
Our tour of the Ninfa Gardens complex not only provided a wonderful Spring day experience of sights, sounds (over 150 types of birds!), and smells (so many flowers in bloom!), in anticipation of Earth Day next week, it also gave us a chance to think about Genesis and the human responsibility of the stewardship of creation.
Last week the Providence College in Rome program had an academic excursion to the famous Ninfa Gardens, a beautiful nature reserve south of Rome. All of our day trips and Friday excursions have as their goal some sort of Italian cultural immersion. But this outing could have even been dubbed an “environmental immersion”. The Ninfa Gardens, […]MORE
This week the P.C. in Rome program hosted the second academic colloquium of the Spring semester. Our topic was “Muslims in Europe: Immigration and Integration”. Academic colloquia are important events which enhance the academic conversation in our program and provide opportunities to focus on issues of contemporary culture and society. Typically, local experts are invited to speak about their field, their recent research, and implications for current events.
Our distinguished speaker was Dr. Mustafa Cenap Aydin, director of the Tevere Institute for Intercultural and Interreligious Dialogue here in Rome. The title of his hour long presentation was “The Youngest Son of Abraham and/ of/ to Europe: Muslims in Europe between Immigration, Violence, and Dialogue”.
Currently he is a visiting fellow at the Institute for the Study of Philosophy, Politics, and Religion at the Wolfson College, in Cambridge, England. His remarks were the result of his current scholarship. He began with a discussion of the relationship between majority and minority religions in the history of Europe, tracing the emergence of Christianity and later Islam in Europe.
Dr. Aydin then unpacked the notions of citizenship and religion as well as how secularism has been defined in European history. He also stressed the definitions of “Islam(s) and Islamism(s)” suggesting that Islam is not monolithic either in its history or in its current manifestations.
Perhaps the most challenging part of his talk was about the growth of the modern nation state and realities of secular citizenship. That is, a model of citizenship wherein religion is not and cannot be expressed in the public sphere.
Through the use of historical and contemporary examples, Dr. Aydin outlined citizenship and religious identity issues facing Muslims in Europe. The discussion was helpful in giving our students a wider perspective, a cultural sensitivity, and a religious appreciation of what the European Union is facing in the re-emergence of Islam in its member states. “Identity politics” is a very hot topic, and one which the students can now understand, perhaps, on a much deeper level.
This week’s academic colloquium helped to raise the level of academic engagement among students and faculty. It’s experiences like this that help to ensure that our time here is not spent simply in “study tourism” but in “study abroad” – learning in the context of a culture and society that is different from our own.
This week the P.C. in Rome program hosted the second academic colloquium of the Spring semester. Our topic was “Muslims in Europe: Immigration and Integration”. Academic colloquia are important events which enhance the academic conversation in our program and provide opportunities to focus on issues of contemporary culture and society. Typically, local experts are invited to […]MORE
Last week CEA arranged a trip to Umbria for us. We visited the town of Assisi, the birthplace of St. Francis and St. Clare, co-founders of the Franciscan Order.
On the bus ride up to Assisi, I was able to share some reflections about St. Francis and his remarkable life. We discussed his family life, his dramatic conversion, and his mission to the poor, the sick, the marginalized, and the forgotten. I told them about his trip to meet the Sultan on a mission of peace and his efforts to heal divisions and reconcile enemies. Finally, we discussed some of the “iconic scenes” of his life which live on in the history and spirituality of the Franciscans.
As a true reformer, Francis challenged the Church of his day to conform itself more closely to the Gospel of Christ and the ideals of the Sermon on the Mount. We also discussed the choice of the name “Francis” by our current Pope. Upon reflection, we realized that perhaps we are witnessing in our own day another “Francis revolution” with the preaching and example of Papa Francesco.
The basilica of St. Francis was the highlight for most of us. We were able to decipher many of the frescoes that portrayed biblical stories and then had the challenge of understanding the stories of Francis’ life in their context.
Using our New Testament in the Eternal City course as a backdrop, we could more easily understand the stories of the life of Francis and the birth of the Franciscan Order.
There is a story – some would day legend – that St. Francis and St. Dominic actually met and became friends. Their meeting and fraternal charity towards one another is to be a corrective to any rivalry or “unholy competition” between the two religious Orders of Franciscans and Dominicans. Their encounter has been portrayed in painting, stained glass, and sculpture by both religious families. (In fact, there is a stained glass window in St. Dominic’s Chapel on campus that depicts it.)
More than just a way to escape from the “big city life” of Rome, these cultural trips in our study abroad experience expose students to Italian culture, art, architecture, food, and history. The sights and sounds of Assisi and the Umbrian countryside made a lasting impression on everyone who went.
The fresh air, beautiful sights, good food and camaraderie reminded us how special the study abroad experience is. Assisi is known as the “city of peace”. And it did not disappoint!
Last week CEA arranged a trip to Umbria for us. We visited the town of Assisi, the birthplace of St. Francis and St. Clare, co-founders of the Franciscan Order. On the bus ride up to Assisi, I was able to share some reflections about St. Francis and his remarkable life. We discussed his family life, […]MORE
“Our tour guide told us that over 400 martyrs were said to have been buried in these catacombs…These martyrs, in their suffering, mirrored the suffering of Jesus Christ before them.” Vanessa Zuleta
Last week our site visit for the New Testament in the Eternal City class was the Catacombs of St. Priscilla. Because of the great number of martyrs buried there and the fact that it is mentioned in the most ancient documents of Christian topography and liturgy, it is called the “regina catacumbarum” or the Queen of the Catacombs”.
There are over 50 catacomb complexes underneath Rome stretching for nearly three hundred miles. Many of them have ancient Christian inscriptions and decorations.
Although there are several Christian catacombs that are open to the public, I chose Santa Priscilla because of the richness of the artwork and inscriptions. It has the oldest image of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the so-called “Greek Chapel” is an absolute treasure trove of frescoes depicting biblical images from the Old and New Testaments.
Contrary to popular Christian imagination, the early Christians never lived in the catacombs. In fact, it would have been dangerous even to pray publicly there as a group since it could have led to discovery and arrest during the days of the Roman persecution of the Church.
The catacombs were a place of burial and remembrance. The frescoes and inscriptions are testimony to the faith of the early Christians and their hope of resurrection. The tombs of the martyrs take pride of place and are usually richly decorated.
“As I observed the graves of our spiritual predecessors, I found myself in awe of their faith. Even in death, they formed a community where they could rest in peace… The beautiful frescoes serve as a testament to their faith…” Sierra Loya
During our tour, the students were able to connect many of the motifs of the frescoes and inscriptions with theological and spiritual themes from our New Testament course.
“A wealthy woman by the name of Priscilla dedicated these specific catacombs to be used as a cemetery for Christians… Around many of the tombs is drawn the symbol of a fish representing the statement, “Jesus Christ Son of God Savior”. Anthony Ravosa
“Through the depths of the Catacombs of Priscilla, themes in the Gospel of Mark are on physical display. These burial grounds provide great evidence of how early Christianity was practiced based on the inscriptions and images remaining in the catacombs.” Claire O’Connor
“…the Gospel of Mark, and our visit to the catacombs demonstrated that once you understand the “secret” of the Gospel of Mark you can understand the true message of Christianity: that you must lose your life in order to regain it.” Julia Textor
“Many look at the brutal ways by which Christians were executed under Nero or Diocletian and think it occurred during a less civilized period far in the past. In examining the current situation in the Middle East, it is apparent… that the message in the Gospel of Mark is as important to suffering Christians today as it was when it was written in 70 AD.” Meghan Donohoe
“Our tour guide told us that over 400 martyrs were said to have been buried in these catacombs…These martyrs, in their suffering, mirrored the suffering of Jesus Christ before them.” Vanessa Zuleta Last week our site visit for the New Testament in the Eternal City class was the Catacombs of St. Priscilla. Because of the […]MORE
The famous Roman Forum was our second site visit of the semester. The format of our course, The New Testament in the Eternal City, includes not only classroom lectures but also site visits each week. More than simply “fun field trips”, these site visits are an integral part of the academic component of our study abroad program. Each week the site is to be integrated with the content of the classroom lecture. And while we’re on site, there is even more academic input from me and the occasional guide who leads us. So, pens, notebooks and course texts are not left behind! Instead, the site itself becomes both our classroom and the focus of our study – our “text”.
“The Roman Forum presented visual symbols of early Christianity, while the classroom lecture provided textual references to Christianity that tied the lecture and site visit together.” Jackie Gray
Our lecture was on the Roman context of early Christianity and our trip to the Roman Forum gave us a feel for what it was like to live, work, shop, participate in politics, and pray in ancient Rome. The basilicas, government buildings, temples, and areas of commerce included in the Forum helped us to understand how it functioned as the political, religious, and social center of ancient Rome.
One of the advantages of studying the New Testament in Rome is being able to have an “up close and personal” experience of the ancient Roman Empire through the architectural and artistic remains of it that can be found throughout the city. Walking into the Pantheon, climbing the stairs inside the Colosseum, or trekking through the Roman Forum are all ways to experience the Roman context of early Christianity.
“When trying to understand early Christianity, one must look at not only the religious context of this time period but the cultural framework as well…The Roman Forum allows us to get a “picture” of what life was really like historically at the time of early Christians.” Claire Beatty
“After visiting the Roman Forum, it is clear that Rome was the first true home for early Christian architecture. The Forum is filled with archaeological evidence, which reveals the transition from pagan to Christian houses of worship.” Jillian Giorgio
The Arch of Titus is important because along with the fall of Jerusalem, it also depicts the 70 AD fall of the Temple. This relates to what we learned in lecture because in Mark 13, Jesus predicts the fall of the Temple.” Amy Czarnota
“The Gospel of Mark and the Arch of Titus are two items that give us an inside look at what Rome was like during the first century AD…The relationship between the written word and the physical evidence is what gives us a more solid foundation for learning and clarifying what happened in Rome in ancient times, and most importantly for the authenticity of the New Testament.”Samantha McSweeney
The famous Roman Forum was our second site visit of the semester. The format of our course, The New Testament in the Eternal City, includes not only classroom lectures but also site visits each week. More than simply “fun field trips”, these site visits are an integral part of the academic component of our study […]MORE
“And so we came to Rome…” Acts 28:14
So says the author of the Acts of the Apostles when St. Paul and his companions arrived to Rome after a long journey. Last week, 43 students from Providence College and I arrived in the Eternal City for a semester abroad.
Our Program has begun its fifth year of transforming lives with the study abroad experience at the heart of the Church.
The CEA Rome Team welcomed us with open arms and big smiles upon our arrival and then gave us an intense three day Orientation Program that helped our entry into the Italian way of life and our academic study program.
This week we started classes and Tuesday morning we began our New Testament in the Eternal City course, which is central to our PC in Rome experience. The course consists of classroom lectures and site visits around the city so that Rome becomes a “classroom” for us.
During this first week of introductions, orientations, and fresh beginnings, I’ve asked the students what they were hoping for from their study abroad experience in Rome. We talked about why they chose Rome as a destination and what they expected from our Program. Here’s what some of them said:
“This semester abroad I am hoping to learn a good deal of the Italian language, enough to speak with my grandma in Italian. I also hope to gain cultural intelligence regarding the Italian lifestyle so I will be able to appropriately do business with people from Italy if necessary in the future.” Amy Czarnota, Marketing Major, Finance Minor from Reading, Massachusetts.
“I was initially very nervous and hesitant to go abroad, but my friends who attended CEA in Rome told me that I couldn’t pass up such an amazing experience… After almost a week here I am already in love with the city, my neighborhood, the people I have met and especially the CEA professors and other employees. Everyone is so helpful and it has made my transition so much better. I know that this was one of the best decisions I’ve made since attending Providence College.” Samantha McSweeney, Business Management Major from Mansfield, Massachusetts
“What I hope to get out of being abroad is obtaining a more cultured, wider range of thinking that forces me to go outside my “comfort zone” and entertain thoughts and ideas that I previously would never have encountered. Studying abroad will also hopefully make me adapt and leave the comfortable PC environment for a new and foreign Roman one.” John Leyden, Finance Major from Pleasantville NY.
“NYC will always be my favorite city but Roma will definitely give it a run for its money. I have an Italian background as well as Argentinian so you can only imagine how thrilled my family is that I am here living in the same city as Argentinian native Pope Francis.” Gabriela Pace, Marketing Major, from New Jersey
“I am hoping to experience the Eternal City as it gives life to my studies and reveals the beauty and glory of the Catholic Church. I am sure this semester will be a formative experience as the classroom becomes the city of Roma.” Ana Gadoury, Theology Major, Writing Minor, from Blackstone, Massachusetts
“I am studying abroad in Rome because I wanted to study in the country where my Grandfather was born and get the chance to experience a new culture.” Emily Palazesi. Marketing Major from Sandwich, Massachusetts
“And so we came to Rome…” Acts 28:14 So says the author of the Acts of the Apostles when St. Paul and his companions arrived to Rome after a long journey. Last week, 43 students from Providence College and I arrived in the Eternal City for a semester abroad. Our Program has begun its fifth […]MORE
While most people at home would immediately think of the P.C. Hockey team’s recent national championship victory in the TD Garden of Boston when they hear of “Friars in the Garden”, this Blog is actually about our recent day trip with CEA to the famous Ninfa Gardens, a beautiful nature reserve south of Rome.
All of our day trips and excursions have as their goal some sort of Italian cultural immersion. But this outing could have even been dubbed an “environmental immersion”. The Ninfa Gardens, declared a protected natural monument in 2000, include ruins of a medieval town, an English-style romantic garden, a 17th century hortus conclusus, a river, and a lake. The best time for viewing is the Spring with an extravaganza of blooming plants, flowers, and trees.
This day trip was part of the curriculum of the popular “Environmental Ethics” class offered to P.C. students to fulfill their ethics core requirement. Not a bad homework assignment! Ninfa combines history, architecture, and nature. One of the internationally famous aspects of the Gardens is its micro-climate and rare eco-system due to its location between the two contrasting geological formations of the Pontine plain and the Lepini hills. It faces south and has at least four natural springs feeding the gardens with pure spring water and keeping the atmosphere temperate.
It is well known that Pope Francis has made environmental awareness part of his pontificate. He has spoken about it in numerous speeches and press conferences, emphasizing the moral dimensions of protecting the environment. Indeed, the Vatican will sponsor a one day conference entitled: “Protect the Earth, Dignify Humanity” next week here in Rome. The U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will open the conference which will be attended by the economist Jeffrey Sachs, other world and religious leaders, and of course, many scientists. The conference is in anticipation of Pope Francis’ forth-coming encyclical on global warming and the environment, set to be released this summer.
Our tour of the Ninfa Gardens complex not only provided a wonderful Spring day experience of sights, sounds (over 150 types of birds!), and smells (so many flowers in bloom!), in anticipation of Earth Day this week, it also gave us a chance to think about Genesis and the human responsibility of the stewardship of creation.
While most people at home would immediately think of the P.C. Hockey team’s recent national championship victory in the TD Garden of Boston when they hear of “Friars in the Garden”, this Blog is actually about our recent day trip with CEA to the famous Ninfa Gardens, a beautiful nature reserve south of Rome. All of […]MORE
The Spring 2015 P.C. in Rome program is fast approaching its end. As we say in Rome – tempus fugit – time flies! Although there is a tinge of melancholy in the air because we know we’ll be leaving Rome in a few weeks, we are grateful for our time here and the experiences we’ve had.
As usual, the core course, New Testament in the Eternal City, has used Rome as its “classroom” and has provided us with many adventures during our weekly site visits. Our other Theology course, The Catholic Church and Major World Religions, has also used site visits, guests speakers, and lectures to unpack the reality of inter-religious dialogue that is so crucial in today’s world.
As we approach our final exam period and make a list of things we still need to see and do before departure, I asked the students to share their thoughts about their experience with PC/CEA in Rome. I asked them to imagine speaking to a student back home in Providence who might be considering studying abroad next year. What would they say to him or her about being in Rome?
In other words, “why study theology in Rome”? Here’s what some of them said:
“Studying theology in Rome is a great experience since we were able to connect with the New Testament on a physical level when we visited some of the most important sites of early Christianity.” – Stephen Beck“I would encourage any PC student to pursue their theology cores in Rome simply because of the fact you’re in Rome. Our classes aren’t just sitting in a lecture hall, we actually go once a week to see some of the most ancient sites in the world where Christianity began. It’s not an experience you can find anywhere else and it’s incredibly rewarding.” – Katie O’Brien
“As an accounting major with a rigorous business course load, I saved many of my core requirements, including my two theology classes, for my semester abroad, and I would recommend to anyone considering studying abroad in Rome to do the same. Seeing how the themes of the New Testament are manifested in churches and other historical sites throughout Rome has given me a deeper understanding of my faith that I will carry with me through the rest of my life.” – Kathleen McGinty
“Taking Theology in Rome has been a lot more enjoyable than I can imagine it to be at PC in a class room. As an accounting major I struggled in CIV and pushed off my theology requirements for this point exactly. We have site visits once a week, so we are out of the classroom exploring the city. Personally I wouldn’t have gone to nearly as many of the churches and places we got to go, but I was so happy I had the opportunity to do so. I highly recommend filing these requirements abroad!” – Emily Rose“Rome is the ultimate place to study theology. The city is our classroom and the guided site visits make the readings and lectures come to life in an incredible way. ” -Julia Averna
“Rome – full of religious history making it an ideal location to learn about theology. Being able to connect the city to theology classes makes for a rich and fulfilling educational experience.” – Maddy McDonald“Studying theology in Rome is incredible because you get to go on field trips during class time every week which are often very relevant to the course material and history of the Church. It’s a unique opportunity to learn, grow, and fulfill Core Requirements through this interactive and memorable experience. ” -Madeleine Veith“Studying theology in Rome has been such an amazing experience as everything we learn about in the classroom we are able to see in person. The correlation between the New Testament and the awesome site visits allows us to make connections that we never would have seen if not studying in Rome. Though I have taken theology classes at PC before, this has been my favorite by far as everything is so relevant to our daily lives here in the eternal city.” -Katherine Mahder“Why study Theology in Rome? Because the environment is extremely conducive to learning theology. Physically being surrounded by ancient structures that relate to the course material instantly make this class uniquely beneficial and memorable. ” – Dan ElfmanGo Friars!
The Spring 2015 P.C. in Rome program is fast approaching its end. As we say in Rome – tempus fugit – time flies! Although there is a tinge of melancholy in the air because we know we’ll be leaving Rome in a few weeks, we are grateful for our time here and the experiences we’ve […]MORE
During their semester stay for Study Abroad in Rome, the students are obviously immersed in “all things Italian”. While there might be many similarities between Italy and the U.S., the truth is that daily life here can be very different from daily life at home. Things we take for granted might not even cross the minds of Italians. Conversely, what they consider “normal” is often “strange” or “surprising” for Americans.
Matthew Tinsley, a Theology Major and Finance Minor from Worcester, Massachusetts, has written a guest blog on the coffee culture of Italy. Matt confesses to be a “coffee-oholic” at home. And here he has noticed several differences in the way Italian understand, consume, and celebrate their most preferred beverage. His reflections are below.
On a typical morning here in Rome, at around 9:00 A.M., I leave my apartment on Via Cola di Rienzo and head for class. I stop in a “bar” (café) along the way, stand at the counter, and order my coffee: “Prendo un caffè, per favore.” At a typical bar in the city you’ll find businessmen, construction workers, lawyers, policemen—people of all professions patiently standing together, enjoying simple conversation and waiting for their coffees. After finishing my espresso, I wave to the workers and continue on with my day. This is the coffee culture here in Rome. It is relaxed, conversational, and it is very much a part of the Roman daily routine.
When I think back to my experiences ordering coffee in New England, I picture this: A long and discouraging line of F-150s, covered in snow and sand, sitting at the Drive-Thru of a Dunkin Donuts. While this is hardly the only way to get coffee in the U.S., let us consider how this image contrasts from the coffee culture here in Rome.
How is the coffee itself different? The translation of “coffee” from English to Italian is “caffè,” yet each word refers to a different beverage. When Romans order caffè, they are really ordering a small cup of espresso. If I wanted the type of coffee that you would typically find at American diners, Dunkin’ Donuts, Honey Dew and so on, then I would have to specify, “caffè Americano”.
There are many, many ways to take your coffee here. A caffè lungo is an espresso with added water, whereas a caffè ristretto is a stronger, more concentrated espresso. There is the macchiato, which is coffee with milk, and it is served caldo, or freddo, hot or cold. One may order a caffè shakerato, which involves putting coffee and ice cubes in a shaker and serving it in a cocktail glass. After dinner, one might enjoy a caffè corretto, or coffee with added liquor, (typically Grappa or Sambuca). There is also the caffè marocchino, which consists of coffee mixed with chocolate powder. As you can imagine, the list goes on.
Indeed, there are many different types of coffee here in Italy, but in fairness, the same can be said of the U.S. How else could the coffee culture be different in Rome than in the States? I submit that the way people drink coffee here is much different. For example, Italians do not have an easy phrase for taking coffee “To-Go”; you would have to say, “caffè da portare via,” or literally “to take away.”
I have yet to see a major and dominant chain coffee company in Rome, let alone a “Drive-Thru” option for motorists. Romans prefer taking their time while drinking coffee; they’ll often enjoy a cup while standing at the cafe countertop, reading the newspaper or simply exchanging small-talk with the bartenders. If someone is eating or drinking while walking down the street, it is likely that that person is not Italian.
I have enjoyed observing the differences between the coffee culture in Italy and the U.S. I think this experience has given me a glimpse into the broader cultural traits of each country as a whole.
During their semester stay for Study Abroad in Rome, the students are obviously immersed in “all things Italian”. While there might be many similarities between Italy and the U.S., the truth is that daily life here can be very different from daily life at home. Things we take for granted might not even cross […]MORE