by Francesca Yazbek
I remember like it was yesterday the first time I saw Piazza Navona. It was my first weekend in Rome during my third and final day of orientation. After an entire day of walking around the city, learning the metro, buses, piazzas, and monuments, we were given an assignment: We were going to be led somewhere in the city, and we had to find our way home. The place my group was led to was Piazza Navona.
Like most piazzas in Rome, the streets leading to Piazza Navona are narrow, cobblestone, and lined with colorful shutters that decorate the unique buildings. We were led through these small streets–having no idea where we were or where we were going….And then, suddenly, the buildings parted and, from the narrow street, we flowed out into the piazza. In front of us was the fountain pictured above, Bernini’s “Four Rivers.” It was one of the first of many breathless moments I would encounter throughout my time abroad; I could not believe the beauty that was before me.
Looking back on my semester, I realize that I began to take beauty like this for granted. I spent so much time in Piazza Navona–watching its street artists working and selling, eating in its restaurants, walking around its Christmas market–that by the end of my three months in Rome, visiting the piazza was a normal part of my week. I feel as though every time I visited, I gave a little less attention to its beauty, and now that my days spent there are behind me, I am reminded to never pass up an opportunity to honor the beauty that is before me.