I am Reiley Porter and I study Computer Science at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. I have always loved visiting Italy through books and movies and I am thrilled to be experiencing it firsthand now. Living in this beautiful region gives me the chance to be more than a tourist and I can’t wait to see what Tuscia has in store for me!
As I walk around yet another corner, I realize two things: One, I passed this shop ten minutes ago, and two, I am completely lost. With the feeling of failure I rifle through my purse to grab my map. For the next few minutes I look for street names at the nearest intersection and try to discern which direction I should be holding the map. Once I pick a direction, I walk quickly as if my speed will impact my ability to remember the way. It doesn’t. After what feels like forever, the narrow street opens up and I see water bursting from the fountain ahead echoing the relief bursting within me. I recognize this place!
The fountains of Viterbo have become integral to my life here. Every day involves walking past, meeting at, or talking about at least one of these beautiful fountains. Many of the first memories I made in Italy revolve around one of the fountains. When I first arrived in Viterbo, it was just a week before the Santa Rosa festival. The fountain in Piazza del Erbe had been filled with fruit! The fountain was in such a central location, and the experience so memorable that the “fruit fountain” has become the best location to meet with my friends.
Each of the fountains serves as an important landmark for navigating the city of Viterbo. The layout of the city is intricate and the paths from one place to another are often winding and take many turns. Without landmarks, I can only imagine how complex giving directions would be. I know I would experience being lost far more often. I have had great experiences while “lost” in Viterbo, and I highly recommend putting away the map and wandering to discover new places. Every little street here has something to offer the wanderer, but when the adventure is over I like to know I can find my way home.
As important as landmarks are, the fountains have become much more than that to me. My favorite place in the city is in a small courtyard with a fountain and an incredible view. Many days and nights I have wandered into this courtyard to take in the beautiful reality of my life in this amazing part of Italy. The Etruscan tomb covers about the courtyard serve as a reminder of how unique this region is. The rich history and culture here have made my study abroad experience less like a vacation and more like what it was meant to be: an opportunity to see, hear, smell, touch, and taste Italian life. I never knew that fountains could be so significant to my life here, but each day they remind me where I am, why I am here, and where I am going.