When in Rome… My First Time in Italy!

Rome, Italy… One of the places I’ve dreamed of going since the first time we learned about its epic history in elementary school. I remember looking at the pictures of the Colosseum and the Pantheon and wondering if I’d ever get a chance to walk the same terrain as the ancient Romans. After all those years of dreaming, I finally had the chance to experience it firsthand and it was unbelievable.

Rome’s ambience cannot be mistaken. It’s archaic buildings and huge city streets were just like I pictured them- only better. I was eager to explore the city and I wanted to understand why Rome seemed to be calling my name. I found out on the first night.

I arrived after sunset and the city lights provided the perfect introduction to set the stage for my adventure. I dropped off my bag and set off for a little exploration. Luckily, my friend from back home was studying abroad in Rome and she provided plenty of direction. We roamed (no pun intended) the streets and I had the chance to soak in the city’s feel. The scattered piazzas (plazas) and extravagant fontanas (fountains) around every corner had me gasping for breath but I had no idea what was up next. As we continued to zigzag down the narrow streets, I caught a small glimpse of the side of a building that looked different from the others. With my curiosity piqued, we finally made the turn into the Piazza della Rotonda- home of the 2000-year-old Pantheon.

Words do not describe the awe I felt. Accented by the night’s light, the enormous marble pillars of the Pantheon towered over me and had me mesmerized. The stone was smooth to the touch and as I pressed my hands to the column, I could feel the ancient building taking on my warmth. I began to think about just how many others stood where I stood, felt what I felt, and marveled in the same way I did that night over the past 2 millennia. I couldn’t speak for my mind was captivated. The building itself was impressive but what it stood for, in my eyes, was even more so. It is the connection between hundreds of generations, it is proof of how far mankind has come, and it is a symbol of how much further we have to go before we reach our true potential. This is why I had come to Rome- I had to experience this feeling.

First sight of the Pantheon

Pantheon-"To Every God"












Potential… Never in my lifetime did I think I would be able to see the things I have seen in the past few months, let alone the past few days. I think about what this means for me, my family, and my community and I am grateful for every moment. I am constantly reminded that one should never say, “never,” and that one day, with hard work and dedication, one can come closer to their dreams- no matter how far away or impossible they may seem.

If this was the first couple hours, you can only imagine how the rest of the weekend was. I thumbwrestled at the Colosseum, Lizzie McGuire’d it at the Trevi Fountain, and even saw the Pope in Vatican City. And of course, there were daily Gelato stops along the way accompanied by some of the best Pizza, Pasta, and Lasagna I have ever tasted in my entire life.

Trevi Fountain

I have come a long way from canned Chef Boyardee and those hot-dog bun/ketchup/kraft singles “pizzas” my friends and I would make at Austin’s house back in the day. I cherish those memories with all of my heart and it reminds me of how important our past is when heading towards the future. I will continue to learn and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for me next.

Check out the short video below for some thoughts I had to share while in front of the famous Colosseum.

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  1. David’s avatar

    it must be a great day in your life. I hope I can experience that next year.

    1. Jesse Sanchez’s avatar

      I hope so too, David! No dream is too big! I wish you the best of luck!

    2. Clarion CX 501’s avatar

      Very cool! I am from Italy and have not been back to see the house that my great grandfather (nonno) built yet. It is in a small town south of Rome in the hills called Pistertso. One day, your travels made me slightly jealous but I enjoyed the read…cheers!

      1. Jesse Sanchez’s avatar

        I really hope you can one day visit the house your grandfather built. What an incredible story! and thank you, I appreciate it!

      2. Associazione Onlus’s avatar

        Hello, I read your post and I felt strange.
        I was born and I live in Rome and all the feelings you described I just can’t feel them. Maybe the reason is because when you see all days the same things they lose everyday a little of beauty in your eyes.
        Anyway I’m glad that you loved Rome 🙂
        I suggest you to visit also Paris one day, I fell in love with this city!

        1. Jesse Sanchez’s avatar

          That is very interesting to hear, hopefully the next time you pass by you remember the beauty that was once there in your eyes. And thanks! Yeah, Rome was incredible. And it looks like I took your advice! I was in Paris this past weekend and fell in love with the city. Check out the new blog to hear about my experience!

        2. Jessica’s avatar

          WHAT A GREAT ADVENTURE IN ROME.You took (well whom ever took them)very beautifull pictures they are super awesome. Seriously through your blog I get the chance to conocer new places. That is trully my new top goal in life go and travel around the world and showing other people de lo que se estan perdiendo. and your are SO right about students being like gladiators I really support you on that. i<3 your videos everything is so inspiring. I also remember learning about the gladiators in elementary, those epic stories trully filled me up with the "I WONDER HOW DOES THE Colosseum LOOK LIKE" JESSE YOU ARE DEFINETLY SHOWING OTHER PEOPLE THROUGHT YOUR BLOG SO MANY PLACES THAT ARE OUT THERE.


          1. Jesse Sanchez’s avatar

            Good to hear you’re still enjoying the blogs. Thanks for all your kind words. Keep working hard and I can’t wait to hear about all those battles that you’ve come out as victorious! Stay strong!

          2. Jeanie Nguyen’s avatar

            “Lizzie McGuire’d it” = BEST noun –> verb transformation I’ve seen in my life. EVER.

            1. Jesse Sanchez’s avatar

              Haha! Thanks very much, Jeanie. My grammar is a bit unconventional but I’m glad you liked it.

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