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Nov 28, 2019

by Natalie Edwards '14

Attending a high school in Rome provides two educations: there is the learning that takes place in the classroom and the discovery that happens in the city.

Rome is an open-air museum, a UNESCO World Heritage Site a major tourist destination, the center of the Italian government, home to embassies and NGOs from all the world and center of a thriving ex-pat community of diplomats, artists, teachers and lovers of ancient and modern history. For the high school students who call this city home, Rome provides constant stimulation. As tenth grader Vittoria explains, “I love living in Rome, it is a big town full of ancient and modern art, and, as I don’t know it well, I can always discover new corners, new neighborhoods, new shops, new small restaurants. I feel like an explorer of faces, habits, cultures so similar and so different from mine.”

Our neighborhood, along Viale Aventino, is uniquely multicultural, home to both our school, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and several embassies. The Aventine Hill area also boasts the Orange Garden, an ideal location for watching the sunset over the Tiber River or listening to an impromptu concert on a lazy afternoon. Just a few hundred meters from the Orange Garden, you can find the secret keyhole, a small keyhole that provides a unique view of the dome of St. Peter’s, beautifully framed by the trees and flowers of the Knights of Malta’s pristinely kept Renaissance garden.

Just a two-minute walk from our front door, Circus Maximus (Circo Massimo) was, in ancient times, the site of chariot races and public sporting events. Today, it provides the perfect location for field games and frisbee tossing with one of the St. Stephen’s Physical Education classes or a relaxing weekend picnic with the Boarding Department. Many events are also hosted here such as concerts, fashion shows, and, several times a year, a sprawling open-air organic farmer’s market. Our students love Circo. As Rachael, a visiting trimester student explains, “I love how easy it is to grab a friend after school to get gelato, sit at the steps of Circo Massimo, and enjoy the rhythm of Rome.”

Along Viale Aventino itself, one can find an array of cafes, restaurants, grocery and school supply stores, hairdressers and even a second-hand store called the mercatino. Whether you enjoy admiring the Ancient Baths of Caracalla behind the FAO or sipping a warm cappuccino with your pain au chocolat at the Casa Manfredi cafe, the Aventine neighborhood is the place to be.

A graduate of Washington University in St. Louis, Natalie Edwards double majored in Art History and Archaeology and Economics. Natalie attended St. Stephen's as a boarder in 11th grade, and later returned to Bologna for a semester abroad during university. Natalie is fluent in Italian and is currently a Residential Assistant in the St. Stephen's Boarding Department and a Communications Office Assistant.