Roman Life?

By: Audrie Marton

Caught up in the memorizing and captivating beauty of ancient Rome sprawled all throughout the city, I could understand how many would wonder about the idea of living in Rome permanently.  As wonderful and magical of a time as I have had in Rome, I do not think living there would be the same, at least not if I was born there.  After talking to multiple Romans, it seems as much as they love their city, they also harbor some negativity. As with any place, Rome has its faults, but in direct contrast with the United States, Rome’s biggest flaw seems to be its stagnancy.  

While the United States is intended to be a forever growing and developing country, Rome lives in the present, not the future. This also serves as one of Rome’s greatest qualities. Much of Rome’s charm comes from this concept; to live in the moment, take one’s time walking down the street, allow a meal to last all night and to enjoy what is within reach. But these philosophies also create limits, especially within a person’s career.

In Rome it is highly unlikely to get a job without knowing someone already in the business, most commonly a family member.  Most of the jobs are service jobs, working in shops or at restaurants, with nearly no room for advancement. In addition to the limited career options and availability, the economy evokes low pay and few benefits. All of these factors create a paradox like situation in which Romans are trapped. With no opportunity for progression, the city’s system remains fixed and its growth stunted.

I loved my time in Rome, and can easily envision myself returning again and again. However, it seems to be very difficult to try to forge a life there beyond the rituals of a service job.  As a student on the verge on graduation, I am grateful to live in a place that elicits so many career opportunities for all. It is interesting that a place many people find to be extraordinary can also be considered limited.  



Dinner at Randy’s

by Kayla Engeman

I remember in third grade when I used to believe teachers used to live at school. The moment I leave the building, Ms. McCoy would pull out a cot from the coat closet, take a nap, and start teaching again upon my return. Imagine how weird it felt to not only see a teacher’s living quarters, but be his guest for dinner! On the first day of class here in Rome, Randy announced to us that he would be hosting dinner and a movie every Tuesday night at his flat. Woohoo! Nothing like one less meal to worry about! At least, that’s what I thought I would get out of this gracious offer. I look forward to Tuesday nights now for a different reason.

Each Tuesday goes something like this: The girls, Nick, and I get dressed and head down Cola di Rienzo towards Randy’s flat. We walk in the door, take off our shoes, and get a good whiff of the delicious treats Randy’s prepared. My favorite so far was his homemade bruschetta. Delicioso! Some of us whip out our domesticity skills and start assisting the head chef cutting bread, unwrapping cheese, and opening the wine. We assemble into a line gathering a quality amount of food, our beverage of choice, and come together in the living room decorated with chairs that have been waiting for us. After a few bites, some wine, and a few stories about home that may seem a bit too personal, we settle down to watch a movie. Afterward, our herd shuffles to an esteemed gelateria, and delights in the most luxurious, heavenly tasting dessert this world has to offer. With smiles plastered on our faces, we say “Buona Notte,” and part ways with Randy.

On the walk back, long after the gelato has satisfied us, the smiles remain, because we all feel a sense of home.

It’s hard being so far from home. Seeing all the majesty of Italy makes me wish my family could be here to see it, and I start to miss them. Tuesday’s at Randy’s has brought a special feeling of home to Rome that I think each of us need. As we sit in the little apartment, I get cozy with my new friends, and I feel the warmth of companionship that home always provides. Dinner at Randy’s has become more than dinner and a movie, but family time.

When in Doubt, Fight Like the Gladiators Did

By: Molly Sestak 

The choice is yours. Fight to the death of your opponent and live, or die trying. For those men enslaved during the Roman Empire, this was their life. The name “gladiator” became the name of these fighters because of the tool that they used, a sword called the Gladius. The game started as a traditional religious sacrifice, however the game became more and more entertaining to the Roman people causing a change in the culture and eventually turning brutality into a spectator sport. If an enslaved Gladiator won a certain number of matches they would be granted their freedom. As the sport gained popularity, some Gladiaors became professional Gladiators, almost local celebrity status. The rules were different for these men because it was purely for entertainment and not to fight to the death match.

My Grandma turned 80-years-old this month and for her birthday my Mom took her and my sister to Italy to visit me while studying abroad. My sister found a tour though my Mom’s travel agent called “The Gladiator School “ and insisted that we booked it for the two of us. So we did. We got out of the taxi and walked up a dirt path only to find that we had stepped into a world where the clocks were turned back to the time of the Romans.

We were in a class with two young boys, five and seven. Before we could learn anything we had to put on our uniforms. I don’t know too much about fashion, but I do know that these ‘uniforms’ were hideous and made out of canvas. I guess if you are about to be thrown into an arena to fight to the death it probably didn’t matter what you were wearing, survival was your only thought. After we finished the history lesson it was time to go outside to start our physical training.

Our first obstacle was to run about 20 feet to a rope that was about one foot high and ten feet long. We then had to jump over the rope, alternating sides with our feet together. Then we had to weave our way in and out of swinging sandbags without getting hit. Finally, a somersault ended the circuit. Well that wasn’t so bad. It was actually pretty comical. “Again, again!” We did this over and over until I was completely out of breath. At the time I thought I was just an out of shape college student, but when I peered over at the two little boys they were breathing heavy too. Now the actual fighting began. We quickly caught onto the maneuvers of the Gladiators and took turns practicing in both the defensive and offensive roles. All of a sudden our master, well the man in charge, stopped us, drew a small circle in the sand and stated that we had to keep our battles within the circle. We had five “lives” until we died or lost the match. I had to fight against my sister who is much stronger than me and also extremely athletic. I thought I could stand a chance, but I was wrong, I of course lost both matches. I’m just going to tell everyone I lost the matches because I had to take my glasses off to be battle ready, but shh, don’t tell anyone.

If I had to choose a song to play in the background of my adventure it would probably be Eye of the Tiger by Survivor because it can sometimes be viewed as a comical song, but at the same time intense!

Some Travel Tips for the Hofstra Romans!
~Look into weekend excursions before hand. Do your research and know where you are staying and make sure it is near popular destinations and a safe area.
~ Know your stomach. If you know something is going to make you sick. Don’t eat it. You’ll find something equally as good at the next restaurant you attend.
~Bring plenty of camera memory cards and batteries! You’re going to take triple the pictures and videos as you think you are going to take.
~Bring adapters before hand. It’s hard to find them once here and you don’t know if they are trustworthy.
~You’re going to sweat a lot. Think of that when packing clothes for touring.  
~Buy your toiletries at your destination. Bringing bottles of shampoo, conditioner, etc., adds a good amount of weight to your suitcase that could potentially put you over the 50 pound limit.
~Bring a nalgene/camelback/water bottle. Rome has aqueducts everywhere, and bringing a bottle saves you the money you would spend buying bottled water and then refilling that. Plus, St. John’s has free water from the refridgerator. 

~If you hear whistling, hissing, and the crowd pleasing,” Ciao Bella!”, don’t be alarmed. Boys in Italy are excited that you are an American girl! But if you aren’t interested; don’t pretend like they know what you are thinking. Because they are a different culture, and see advances differently than American boys. So make your intentions clear from the get-go, this is a situation where you need to be black and white.

~Pack light. There are so many opportunities to shop in Rome, if you pack light then you can buy your wardrobe here and have no worries about getting home on the flight with the right weight limit for your suitcase. 
~Bring a scale to weigh your suitcase because you WILL buy things while you are here! It is better to find out your suitcase is overweight the night before rather than in the airport an hour before your flight. 
~Stay at least one weekend in Rome to experience the city in a different way and so you do not get too burnt out before the end of your trip.
~Tell your bank that you’ll be going out of the country and using foreign ATMs
~and last, but not least enjoy EVERY second you have while studying abroad. It is the experience of a life time! 
A Lifestyle of Wine
by Alexa Alvey
I feel obligated to make an initial comment about this blog since it will be completely about alcohol. No, my favorite part about the trip was not the wine buzz, but instead the art of wine: how it’s made, what food to pair it with, and its medicinal properties. At home, I’m a certified bartender in New Jersey and New York, so it was very interesting for me to come to a country where the drinkable delicacy is wine and I could legally drink it! Wine is one of the only drinks that can take you a few minutes to even take a sip because there are so many steps in between. Tilting the glass to admire the color, swirling the liquid to unlock the aromas, sticking your nose in to smell the tannins and grapes, and finally taking a small sip and swishing it around in your mouth in order to experience everything that glass of wine has to offer. Seems tedious right? Well, I find it fascinating, especially in Tuscany when we participated in a wine tour. We all tasted a bit of the various bottles they had to offer, and each enjoyed a sumptuous platter of cheese, wild boar and vegetables, which each enhanced the flavor of the wine and complimented the tantalizing aromas. After this experience my interest in how the bartending system works in Italy piqued. So, I did some digging and found out about the international bartenders association. It’s an international web that connects all professional bartenders within a Guild that promotes the opportunity for an exchange in news, views, proposals and ideas between Guild members. I immediately felt a swell of pride and a sense of belonging that I didn’t feel before. I mean I got my certificate so I could pick up a little extra money to make the expenses of college a little less cumbersome, but I never thought there was an international association that saluted my profession. How cool, right?! And, it’s still going strong since a very nice bloke named Bill Tarling founded it in 1951.
Coming to Italy and experiencing wine country first hand, I feel, has made me a more competent bartender and has allowed me to fully appreciate the art and lifestyle that revolves around wine. Admittedly, it also made me feel a little less bitter about having to miss out on all of the wine tasting programs through work that I am not allowed to attend yet because I’m not 21. Yes, shortly I will be heading back to the U.S.A where I won’t be able to enjoy a sensory-stimulating glass of Italian wine, but I will cherish the experience I had at the Verrazano Vineyard until I can return again.


Where’s the Beef?

by Audrie Marton

The food in Italy is enough of a reason to make the trip. It’s the freshest of the fresh and the best of the best. Every dish is created with delicate care and an attention to detail that is unmatched. From the seasoning, to the wine, Italians know how to eat well. Meals are leisurely events that stem from the concept of pleasure rather than simply survival. Food is to be enjoyed, so every effort goes into ensuring the quality of the ingredients along with a relaxed feeling at the dinner table.
However, there is one big difference in Italian menus that could leave some Americans dissatisfied, something that personally offends Italians. The selection of red meat is scarce, and when it is found, that steak will be incredibly expensive. Italy cannot supply enough meat for the entire country and its hungry tourists, therefore much of the meat is imported. Finer meat is provided by imported livestock, coming mostly from other countries in Europe. Only one third of the meat is actually born in Italy. All these factors contribute to the high cost of meat and its infrequency.
That being said, I have enjoyed three steak dinners while in Italy. After almost two weeks without a solid serving of meat, I was craving pure protein, especially after exerting so much energy during the day travels. One night in Sorrento, I decided to splurge and ordered a steak in a porcini mushroom sauce and “crispy potatoes” which are just roasted potatoes. It may have been one of the greatest decisions I have ever made, as it was certainly one of the best meals I have ever enjoyed. I can’t remember being so happy about a meal in a very long time, and I had already been in Italy for half a month. It was that good.
A week later I found myself ordering a similar meal in Rome, as I dined in a more upscale place. That dinner was nothing short of delicious. It was cooked perfectly and adorned with some kind of quiche. A great meal as well, though not as spectacular as Sorrento and I doubt anything ever will be.
Just this past week the group dinner was held at a meat oriented restaurant, a rare find. As an appetizer, we were served pieces of raw meat. Some of the meat was sliced Carpaccio style and some of it shaped like small uncooked meatballs. This was a specialty of the restaurant, which raised their own meat and provided the freshest cuts possible to patrons.
Although meat is hard to find in Italy, when it is found it is well worth the price. In a country known for its pasta, pizza and gelato, a steak could be the best meal you have.  
Beyond the Tiber

by Erin Starke

As a New Yorker, The Village is one of my favorite areas of New York City.

Once we walked into Trastevere for one of our group dinners, I new I was in love.

The narrow streets lined with warm colored buildings covered in vines is enough to

charm any person, yet the community of the area provides it with an exciting vibe,

giving the area it’s own personality with the city of Rome.

Coming from the Latin root Trans Tiberim, Trastevere means beyond the

Tiber. With it’s location on the other side of the Tiber away from majority of the

city, the Romans had little interest in the area. However once the Romans desired

complete control of the Tiber, they decided to take over the area. In 753BC it

was taken over for the purpose of having totally control of the Tiber but in about

500BC the area become home to sailors and fishermen. Soon the area was home

to immigrants from areas all over Europe and the Middle East. A few of the major

groups who settled there were the Greeks, the Syrians, and the Jews. From the

variety food to the little shops along the streets you are still able to see an influence

from these communities today. This area that was at one point a tiny over crowded

area is now a cozy escape form the bustling streets of Rome.

Trastevere has the perfect combination of the immense history with modern

day. Walking through ruins, you have to imagine what the building looked like and

how people utilized the area; they are beautiful but can sometime be hard to

actually connect with. However, in Trastevere you are part of the history. As people

live their daily lives you realize that you are part of a routine that has been carried

out for thousand and thousands of years. The area has been restored and developed

but it hasn’t lost the authenticity. As you’re walking through the streets you don’t

need to imagine what it would have looked like, because although carriages and

togas have been replaced with vespas and designer clothes, you can still feel the

energy of an old Italian neighborhood. It’s one of the oldest neighborhoods in Rome

isn’t in ruins but still functions as a community. The stores and the restaurants have

changed, but whatever it is you’re doing you’re still strolling on a cobblestone street

under clothesline of drying laundry.

Today Trastevere is filled with students and artists that help bring a lively

vibe to this charming area. The Trastevere area is a modern day renaissance

neighborhood filled with education and art. The mixture of the hunger for

knowledge and the free range for creativity can been scene on every corner. The

Trastevere area makes you feel as though you live there, like each street is your

own. It welcomes you and makes you feel at home, even if it’s just for dinner or a drink.

A lovely Italian breakfast!

A lovely Italian breakfast!

Becoming A Local

by Erin Starke

As our final days of Rome are upon us all I can do is look around at all the

things I’m going to miss about this beautiful place. Rome has become our home.

From the security men that sit at the front desk to the pizzeria down the block and

our local breakfast stops, we’ve gotten so used to our daily roman routines.

What makes parting with these routines all the more difficult are the people

who have become part of them. We’ve gotten so accustomed to seeing these people

each and everyday. It’s safe to say that us Hofstra Romans have become regulars at

a number of the establishments around St. Johns. When I actually take a second to

think about the fact that a café in Rome knows my breakfast order, it reminds me of

how amazing this experience has been and how fortunate I feel.

Back in New York there are so many chains stores and you may have a few

places that know you but here in Rome people are actually excited to see you again,

and they make it clear. Even at the places you grab your food to go, it’s not a rushed

environment. The people working actually perk up and smile when we walk in,

as if a friend came to visit. They’ll joke and laugh with us as we order, ask how we

are or what we came to Rome for with genuine interest. It’s a completely different

experience. It’s not for good customer service, it’s just being polite and genuine. And

I mean, who wouldn’t want to be greeted for their morning cappuccino with “Ciao


As we say it’s out last week and see the disappointment, it’s clear that this

feeling of connection goes both ways. I’m proud that as Hofstra Romans we’ve made

these little connections with the place and people around us. It’s hard to part with

these places but as we say our good byes it’s nice to know that we will be missed as

well and that we’ve made our little impact on Rome.

The Hofstra Romans have a good time taking pictures at the beach! Making memories! :)

The Hofstra Romans have a good time taking pictures at the beach! Making memories! :)

My Favorite Day

by Ashley Melfi

               When you go on a trip like this, you can’t really have a favorite moment; you have multiple. The amount of time spent in a city like this, there is too much we’ve done to specify one moment that was the best.  So as time went by, we visited ruins, monuments, wineries and restaurants and all have had a collective significance to the trip. But on this day, we had an extra special day.

                A beach day isn’t normally what you could call the best part of a vacation, especially when you visit such an incredible city like Rome, but for me, on our second to last day, it was.

                The day started out like any other we’ve had. It was early and we had a tour of a set of ruins that were significant at one point in time. It was hot, it took a long time to travel and in all honesty, we weren’t all in the mood to be out and about. But when we got off the train, our perspectives changed. In front of us, off of the Christopher Columbus metro stop at the end of the line, was a beautiful beach off the coast of the Mediterranean Sea.

                We did the beach right: lounge chairs, umbrellas, private area; it was great. This beach had sand, as opposed to the rocky shores of Positano and the water was clear and warm. Sitting on a lounge chair after a dip in the water and your ipod in your ears with a slight breeze, it really can’t get much better than that. All of us relaxed and realized we were heading for home soon, a bittersweet feeling that brought us all together.  Even though it was just a simple beach day, it was just simply one of my favorites.

Molly and Ashley stage a scene from The Notebook!

Molly and Ashley stage a scene from The Notebook!

Pick Pocketing

by Kellianne Levick

Pick pocketing is a major issue for travelers that come to Italy. The people that pick pocket travelers are trained to do this. They are so good at what they do that you won’t even notice it is being done to you. I went through three weeks without getting anything stolen from me. But, of course, my last week in Rome, I get my iPhone stolen. It is scary how good these people are at pick pocketing you. I was getting on the metro at Termini after a weekend in Venice. After the doors closed, three men started acting like it was really crowded. They started pushing me and Jen to distract us. Before I knew it, I looked down at my bag and it was open. I knew right away that something was going to be missing. I am thankful that it was only my iPhone though. My passport and wallet were in my bag as well. The men that I suspected committed this act were still on the metro. After looking around at the men around me and trying to look at their pockets, they got off at the next stop. It can happen to anyone and everyone. I was so aware all the time, but they pick people that are carrying multiple things so it’s hard for you to pay attention to everything. Since this happened I have been overly cautious of my bag on the metro and even while walking around Rome. Although I was very upset and angry it happened to me, I am so happy it was just my iPhone because that is replaceable… I am not.

Hofstra Romans visit the Globe Theater to see some Shakespeare!

Hofstra Romans visit the Globe Theater to see some Shakespeare!