Travels Through Rome

Report on Class Trip

*Jennifer Lenn*

Dear Blog, 

        In midst of my reminiscing of my recent adventures through Rome, I have decided to tell you of my most significant discovery. It has now been six days since I was in Rome but the memory still asserts itself in my mind with its vivid sounds, smells and overwhelming architecture. Of all the architectural wonders that exist in Rome, I'm sure you may expect to read of my experience in the Coliseum or the Pantheon or the Forum, however, I feel that the most significant experience I can share with you is one from the Isola in the Tiber River. You see, many people can tell you of their journey's to the Coliseum and to the Pantheon and I am sure that all of the stories would be very similar. I am quite sure that hardly anyone journeys to Rome in order to see Isola, or for that matter, even makes nan effort to see this place during their stay in Rome. This past trip that I took to Rome was my fourth time being in Rome so, naturally, it was easier for me to deviate from the typical tourist trail through the city. 
Our first day in rome, as a class, was full of site visits to monumental places that many people only get to read about in books or see in pictures. But while the class proceeded to these world known sites, I decided to discover something new, that I had never seen before.

        I opened my map and was overwhelmed by how many sites were recommended on this paper tourist map. After looking over it for a few minutes, I spotted this small island in the middle of the Tiber River. I was quite interested to see how in the world a small island could fit in a river much less be able to provide proper ground for building. So i set on my way to find this small island. I departed from the Piazza in front of the Pantheon and made my way, first to the Piazza Navona by way of Via di Sant Agostino. The small narrow road finally let out into this great Piazza full of people and street vendors. The space between the buildings and the Piazza was buffered by shaded table and chairs in front of restaurants. This was clearly a place which once held so much more meaning than what it showed now. Now it is only a place to serve tourists. While the space was very open and welcoming, I still had not felt that I really discovered something new. So I continued along its narrow oval axis and left on another busy narrow street. 
        As I continued walking towards the river on Via Arenula, the crowds thinned out and the vendors seemed to reduce in number only slightly, the space slowly turned into one not geared towards tourists but the roads by which locals used in daily life. I finally reached the river and the massive trees that lined the sidewalk had begun to change colors providing the most beautiful foreground to the view of the Isola. My pace had slowed down significantly as I tried my best to take in every part of this view. Halfway across the bridge I paused and could only stand still trying to take in everything that was around 
         I looked on one side of the Ponte Fabricio and saw another much larger bridge with a beautiful elaborate structure. A large concrete slab surrounded the border of Isola, and from above I watched two older men walk together in deep conversation as they slowly made their way around the island. Ponte Fabricio itself hosted only a few street vendors which told me that tourists were somewhat expected here and immediately I could see why, I just didn't  understand why I had never heard or been told of this place before. This place was absolutely stunning. I could see the other end of the island as soon as I reached the other end of the bridge. For such a small piece of land, I was shocked to see how many buildings existed here. There was a small hospital and a modest sized church which housed the relics of St. Barthalemeu. It is a shame that Isola falls in the shadows of its neighboring sites such as the Coliseum and the Pantheon, it is because of these major monuments that Isola does not exist on the tourist trail through rome, but maybe it is a good thing. 

        Aside from its impeccable location, it is the lack of commotion in this place that makes this island so beautiful. This is one of the greatest and most memorable experiences I have had in Rome. It is a place that I got to discover without any direction, which makes it even more rewarding for me. I wish that more people could find time to find this humble spot in Rome but, at the same time, it is the lack of tourists and the serenity of the island that makes Isola so beautiful. 
        I hope that one day you will get to see this place! 
 - Jennifer 

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