Buongiorno from the Eternal City

Rome: the view from the top of St. Peter's – la Cupola di Basilica di San Pietro.

Buongiorno from the Eternal City

Buongiorno and warm greetings from the Eternal City! It is hard to believe we are already in the middle of the summer. As you can imagine, it is very hot here in Rome; thus, many Romans take their vacation this or next month and the city gradually begins to vacate.

For many of you who have been to Rome and are familiar with the city and UST's Bernardi Campus on Lungotevere, you can picture the never-ending traffic jam along the river and the police or ambulance sirens sounding every five minutes. Well, that still remains the same and the noise, chaos and the long lines of traffic at all times of the day go on here.

A couple of weeks ago (week of July 6) it was another busy few days for the capital as the leaders of the world's most powerful economies arrived for the G-8 summit. Among them was President Barack Obama, who, after the end of the summit in L'Aquila (where the powerful earthquake hit earlier this year), drove to Rome with an "army" of security and police forces for his meeting with Pope Benedict XVI.

In fact, the U.S. president and his whole entourage drove on Lungotevere and right by our palazzo (Bernardi) en route to the Vatican. I tried to snap some photos as I was standing outside along with other curious Romans. The president's entourage was driving too fast for me to focus my camera and snap up-close and personal photos. The few photos I was able to shoot are posted on Facebook (for those who are signed up on this social network).

Rome: the Spanish Steps.

Starting July 18 and lasting until Aug. 2, Rome is the host for the 13th World Swimming Championships; sports such as swimming, diving, synchronized swimming and water polo are taking place in various venues of the Foro Italico (not far from the Bernardi Campus). And then, as we get closer to Ferragosto, an Italian holiday celebrated on Aug. 15 (which is also the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary), a large chunk of the city's population goes on vacation. In fact, most establishments, including offices, shops and businesses, close for a couple of weeks, making life seem like a scavenger hunt as one has to explore and figure out what is left open, and where, in the city. Needless to mention that the only people you see besides the few remaining Romans are the hordes of tourists who don't seem to be bothered by the hot weather nor by the fact that a lot of places are closed for holidays (ferie).

There are still plenty of things we love about Rome to keep us cool and fresh during the summer months, such as taste-testing all the gelaterias in the city to find the best gelato (this can be a tough task for someone to carry through), watching movies in an open-air theater in the middle of the Tiber River, eating a plate of fresh pasta pomodorini e basilico outdoors, sipping a cappuccino on the Bernardi terrace, checking out the summer sales, attending opera events at the Baths of Caracalla, rocking out for Bruce Springsteen's concert at the Stadio Olimpico (July 19), beach parties, and the list goes on.

Here on the Bernardi Campus, we are busy with our summer programs and a couple of other small maintenance projects. Of course, the need to maintain the building is ongoing and with so many people coming and going in and out of the Bernardi gate, it is normal to deal with yearly wear and tear. I am grateful for all the financial support we have received so far from several of you over the years to help us defray the cost of some of the big Bernardi capital improvement projects (e.g., bathroom renovations) as well as for the purchase of various types of equipment and furniture for our students (e.g., couches, chairs, tables, etc.). This type of support is very important to us. If you are interested in helping us in this way, see the For Donors page on the Bernardi Campus Web site.

If you, or anyone you know, are coming to Rome in the near future, please invite them to check out our palazzo and suggest overnight accommodations at Bernardi.

Have a great day! Buona giornata!

~ Thanos, tjzyngas@stthomas.edu