Traveling is exhilarating in a spinetingling, euphoric sense; it’s a way to lose yourself and find yourself all at the same time. There’s nothing quite like boarding a train, or a plane, or whatever method of transportation you use to get there, and realizing that, though you’ve done it countless times before, it’s just as serenely thrilling as it always has been. And it dawns on you that perhaps you’re embarking on your greatest adventure yet—perhaps this destination will open the door to new discoveries and memories that will stay with you forever, in the unforgettable way where you recall them frequently, sentimentally reminiscing the remarkable time that it was. Often times it’s little things that stay with you, though sometimes it’s the bigger moments, but there is always something that sticks with you from some escapade or another. This is what makes me yearn to travel over and over again, to set out in route to unexplored or familiar destinations, and make new memories or relive old ones, to cherish timeless moments in marvelous places accompanied by other travel-zealous people.
Studying abroad has given me the opportunity to explore cities all over Europe that I had merely dreamed of visiting in past years. Each trip thus far has left me with unique memories, times that I have shared with people I have grown fond of and now look forward to sharing more experiences with. My first trip began at 2 Est, a train platform in the Roma Termini station that is, and I say this literally, the farthest platform in the entire station. And so, my ensemble of fellow travelers, blissfully unaware of the vast distance between us and 2 Est, decided we surely had a few moments to spare to grab something for breakfast before catching our train. The scenario that followed involved the six of us briskly walking, or rather, running, through Roma Termini, only to despairingly watch our train depart from the platform just as we were approaching. It is safe to say that we did not, in fact, have a few spare moments to grab a bite of breakfast, and that was how we missed our train. But we didn’t let this dampen our spirits as the next train was only a few hours later which gave us plenty of time to get breakfast and not miss it. While this mishap maybe isn’t my fondest memory from our trip to Assisi, I most certainly catch myself with an amused smile on my face when I think about it.
An old military fortress sits perched at the very top of the hill, overlooking Assisi and everything residing below it. Known as Rocca Maggiore, the fortress was magnificent to explore and I was absolutely enthralled by the views from the top of its towers. They were breathtaking, and when I say breathtaking I mean it quite literally—the number of narrow winding stairs you had to climb to reach the top physically took your breath away. I mean the ‘gasping for air, no oxygen in your lungs, all the while swearing the view at the top better be worth passing out for’ kind of breathtaking. However, the lack of oxygen in our lungs and our trembling legs were entirely forgotten upon reaching the top as we gaped at the spectacular view below us. But those weren’t the only stairs we climbed that day. A path of stairs leads up to Rocca Maggiore from the cobblestone streets of Assisi and we determined that hiking up these stairs while eating the calzones we had just purchased for lunch was a brilliant idea. Now, while these stairs are not nearly as steep, narrow, or winding as the set of stairs within the fortress, eating a calzone while hiking them made it just as challenging a climb. If you’ve ever gone running and tried to drink water as you run you know exactly how we felt as we climbed these stairs. Trying to drink and attempting to inhale as much air as possible at the same time is really much more difficult than you’d think. Similarly, sinking your teeth into a deliciously warm and cheesy calzone while walking up these stairs was utterly exhausting and left my band of trekkers not only out of breath but resolutely decided to never attempt the two activities simultaneously again. Perhaps not a favorite part of the trip for other members of the group but I had a grand time and, looking back on it now, I would probably walk each step, calzone in hand, all over again.
Overall, despite arriving a few hours later than we originally planned, Assisi was still wonderfully charming and it was a splendid trip. In all honesty, I wouldn’t have changed a thing about it. I had so many unique and amazing experiences in the most beautiful and tranquil hilltop town of Assisi and, even though any kind of travel can be exhausting at times, every moment—even the strenuous ones—is absolutely fantastic in its own way.
Lauren Graziano E’ una studentessa americana USAC che studia all’Università della Tuscia per il primo semestre di questo anno scolastico. E’ cresciuta alle Hawaii, ma ora vive in Colorado e studia in una università nello Iowa, dove ritornerà il prossimo autunno, dopo il suo semestre a Viterbo. Ama viaggiare, leggere, scrivere e uscire fuori, sia che si tratti di escursioni, sci, nuoto o altre divertenti attività all’aperto.