Originally, I was terrified to go on the AHA Northern Italy trip, having no prior knowledge of history of art whatsoever. My anxieties were dissolved and replaced with pure excitement before the plane to Venice even took off. For me, as a Classicist, however, I came into my own on the last journey of the trip, reading the Aeneid as we arrived in Rome. The AHA tutors allowed me to ask questions about Early Christianity, the fall of the Republic and even as far back as the origins of the Eternal City. That was not only a total change from the history covered so far which began in the 1300s, fascinatingly new to me, but also a new facet of classical antiquity which unfurled like a new scroll before my eyes.
One visit on our second day, uniting my new-found love of medieval art and life-long passion for Roman culture, was to a church called San Clemente. Clambering down into the depths of time from the 1100s (pretty old, we thought) to the 6th century (older than anything we had yet seen that wasn’t actually ancient) finally into the alleys and houses of the city in the 50s and 60s CE. By this time I had passed by a little emotion and began sobbing when I heard that this was a house where St Peter may well have preached and converted, despite fostering no particular Christian beliefs myself. Though exhausted emotionally and physically, Group B felt that that was the most spiritual place on the whole trip. Bare in mind we visited every church in Venice, Florence, Rome, and the Vatican City. Every single one.
That little room, floored with herringbone bricks and with a broken pipe from the Cloaca Maxima viaduct in the corner, I hope, will be an everlasting memory of Rome for me henceforth, bringing together Roman life and worship from 50CE to 1700s, from Mithras to Jesus Christ.
And I bought Rainbow Mentos, which is always nice.