The GoGlobal Blog

Month: January 2022

Exploring the Pantheon and the Church of Saint Ignatius

Exploring the Pantheon and the Church of Saint Ignatius

Last week I took a bus to the city center to explore the area in between classes. I visited the Pantheon, Minerva Square and The Church of Saint Ignatius of Loyola.

I started by visiting the Pantheon, a Roman temple, originally built in 27 BC by Marcus Agrippa and then rebuilt by Emperor Hadrian around 120 AD. It was later repurposed as a Christian Church dedicated to all martyrs. Its dome inspired the Florence cathedral dome, the dome of Saint Peters, and the US Capitol dome in Washington.  The oculus on top lights up the building and the altars along the walls acting as the only source of light.


Along the walls are a series of altars and tomb stones added in the 1700s once the temple was turned into a Christian Church. They were commissioned by Pope Clement XI and designed by Alessandro Specchi.

The main altar is decorated with gold and bronze elements as well as mosaics.

Statues of San Rasso and Saint Anastasius adorn its sides.

The Chapel of the Annunciation with a fresco painted by Melozzo da Forli.

Tomb of Umberto I, second king of Italy.

Tomb of Raphael, an Italian painter and architect of the High Renaissance.

Tomb of Victor Emmanuel II, father of Italy.

Afterwards I kept walking around the Pantheon and found the square of Minerva through an alleyway behind the Pantheon. I keep getting surprised whenever I find these churches, piazzas and obelisks around the city. Unfortunately the Church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva was closed but I might go back and visit it later.


I kept walking and after looking at Google Maps I found the piazza of Saint Ignatius of Loyola was nearby. It felt like a fun coincidence and since I am a Loyola student I thought it would be a great idea to go inside and explore.




After entering the Church I immediately turned to look at the ceiling and I saw this beautiful painting, depicting Saint Ignatius accompanied by angels. It includes an optical illusion of height and looking into the infinite sky.






I then walked to the front approaching the main altar, painted during the late 1600s and early 1700s. The paintings illustrate key moments in Saint Ignatius’s life and his vocation as well as the foundation of the Society of Jesus.




The altars and tombs around the main area dedicated to Jesuit saints. They are decorated with impressive marble statues, golden details, frescoes and spiraling columns. Each altar has a small dome on top with images of the sky and angels, including a light source illuminating the paintings.


I really liked this church, I loved all the detail put into the structure and the way a building itself can embody and honor the life and legacy of Saint Ignatius.

Then I continued walking around until it was time to go back to campus. I enjoyed simply walking around Rome without a clear destination, finding obelisks, fountains, and monuments around the city. There is an undeniable charm to a city filled with so much art and culture at every turn.

Orvieto, Naples, Pompeii… and classes too

Orvieto, Naples, Pompeii… and classes too

Our first week of school felt much more subdued compared to last week, at least until classes ended for the week.

Personally, my classes all went well, I am in a voice class (despite my inability to sing) because my friends convinced me to join it, as well as a Baroque art class that visits sites throughout the city, a religion and gender class, a European masterpieces literary class, and Italian 101– Italian is required for all students here, which makes sense.

Most of the highlights for me came at the end of the week, which I’ll show below!



On Thursday evening, as you can see above, my friends Claudia, Emma, Malena, and I ventured downtown to pick up some of our books for class, then found an adorable coffee shop that I’ve already returned to.




We finished out the night by watching the movie Luca, which, if you have not already seen it, I highly recommend. It’s set in Italy so of course, we had to watch it, and later this semester my friends and I are hoping to visit the town that it is based in! It’s a part of the 5 towns that make up Cinque Terre, which is a collection of seaside towns that you can hike between.




On Friday we had a second day trip to a town called Orvietto, a small town raised up on a hill. The cliff sides that it is on make it look like it’s on top of a natural fortress, and that is exactly how the citizens used the hills over 700 years ago, as natural protection against invaders!



Cosette, Cladia, and I at the old fortress at the edge of Orvieto.


One of the most chaotic parts of this week was planning our weekend trip. Since we only had 2 days, we decided to stay close and visit Naples and Pompeii. Naples most definitely grew on me the longer we were there, and I wish that we would have known some of the history of the city so that we could have better planned our days, but it was still a great first trip! Pompeii was also really wonderful to learn about, and I highly recommend paying for a tour guide if you ever plan to visit.


The harbor and view across towards Vesuvius at sunset. It was breathtaking and we spent a long time here just looking out at the horizon and watching the colors of the sky and water change as the sun went down.


They weren’t lying about the pizza in Naples. We visited Sorbillos, and it was by far my most favorite pizza I’ve ever had





A view of Pompeii and the mountains and greenery in the background that we saw as we were leaving our tour.




Well, that was my second week! Maybe from the pictures, you might not believe it felt less chaotic than the week before, but settling into a routine with school helped. I’ve met such cool people and am continuing and meet more, and I’m excited for the coming weeks!

Orientation Week

Orientation Week

Man, I can’t remember the last time I was as exhausted as I was during orientation week. It was really fun though, meeting a bunch of new people, exploring our new home, and learning about the new school. Here’s a little recap of how the week went!

– Tuesday/Wednesday –

I flew out of the United States from Newark airport, and there were a *ton* of college students on that flight. There were people heading to John Felice like me, both from Loyola Chicago and from other schools like Marquette or Xavier, people from Loyola Maryland heading to their campus in Rome called John Cabot, and even people from an architecture school in Brooklyn! The families just trying to get home must have been so confused.

My flight was the first one in, we landed bright and early at 8 am. We got shown to our rooms and registered, and I met some pretty cool people. My roommate, Cosette, came in in the afternoon, and she was super nice, we got along from the get-go! It was a very long day on very little sleep, but it was capped off by a walk down to a really good pizza place with all of the students, plus Tiramisu for dessert.


The main statue/seating area in the courtyard on campus
Walking through the courtyard with Emma and Claudia
First Italian pizza at our community dinner on Wednesday night!

By this time, I had already met a lot of great people: two sophomores like me from Loyola Chicago, Malena and Claudia, who are both studying nursing; Emma, a junior from Marquette; Anisha, a senior finishing out her college career at Loyola here in Italy with us, just to name a few. Wednesday night we decided to go downtown to explore some places that are popular among students, and got to see the Colosseum at night which was so cool!

The Colosseum at night where my friends and I ended up after exploring Wednesday night.

– Thursday –

On Thursday we had the first two orientation meetings and went to a little café to explore and get coffee in between. Afterward, we wandered around our new neighborhood, Balduina, and found the grocery store near us. That evening we had a walking tour of the neighborhood, getting more in-depth information from the Rome Start kids, who are Freshmen that spend their whole first year of college at the JFRC campus instead of in Chicago!

– Friday –

This was our first day trip as a school! We went to a town about an hour and a half outside of Rome called Caprarola to visit Filla Farnese, a palace built in 1556 by Cardinal Alessandro Farnese. This cardinal finished building what his grandfather, Pope Paul III had started, and it is a beautiful structure that showcases Mannerist architecture and decorations. We had a guided tour of it and the gardens, and the trip was finished out with a community lunch at a nearby restaurant that had a great view of the town and mountains nearby.

A fresco on the ceiling of one of the rooms in Villa Farnese
The view of the village of Caprarola and the mountains in the distance


View of the back of the palace from the gardens, which are in traditional Italian style with a lot of “boxy” bushes

– Saturday –

A fountain at Piazza Navona, one of the most famous Piazzas in all of Rome
The fountain at the bottom of the Spanish steps, which is still fed by an ancient Roman aqueduct from thousands of years ago!

The biggest highlight of Saturday was our guided walking tour of Rome, we got to learn a lot about the history of many famous places in downtown Rome that I will definitely be going back to over the course of this semester.

We started at the Spanish Steps, and made our way down through Rome to the Pantheon, seeing cool plazas that had Medival, Renaissance, and Baroque architecture all in one place. Medival is plainer with few windows and no decoration, while Renaissance style has a certain brick pattern and more windows, and Baroque is super detailed and extravagant. It was super cool to see juxtaposed!

Friends at dinner in Piazza Navona– we stayed downtown after our walking tour
Malena, Anisha, Claudia, Emma, and I at the Trevi Fountain



– Sunday –

Me posing outside of the Vatican

Sunday was a semi-free day, that my friends and I capitalized on by going downtown. We actually decided to walk instead of taking the bus, figuring that we would be able to get to know the area and see more that way. We ended up walking over 9 miles, but it was for sure worth it.

Walking south of Balduina, we wound up outside of Vatican city after about 45 minutes. We were able to go in for free, to both the city and Saint Peter’s Basilica, and even caught the end of Pope Francis’ Sunday service out in the plaza! We continued to walk into downtown Rome and found a great little sandwich place a few blocks away from the Colosseum. We finished out our trip by wandering around the Roman Forum, looking at the ruins, and sitting down to read near a band playing on the street, listening to the music and reading books, soaking in the sun (which we definitely wouldn’t be seeing if we were back in Chicago) and the sights.




Overall, it was a very busy and tiring week, but filled with adventure and fun as well, and I was so excited to see what the next weeks would look like.

I have more pictures on my Instagram for this semester, @lauren_goesabroad !

My First Seven Days Abroad – Unfiltered

My First Seven Days Abroad – Unfiltered

As anyone would expect, moving to another country for five months during a pandemic comes with many complications. This is also my first time traveling outside of the United States – I know I skipped a few steps – so I faced whole second set of challenges awaiting my arrival in Paris.

That being said, my journey to get here started fifteen days before my flight when I was exposed to a positive Covid case. Upon immediately testing negative, I began full isolation testing again on day 3, 5 and 7 from exposure. I never contracted Covid (yay booster shots and KN-95s) and spent my last two weeks at home, by myself, toasting to the new year in a bathrobe and slippers. The day before my flight, I took my last negative test, gathered all the necessary paperwork to cross the border and said goodbye to my family (outdoors and in masks).

My flight was relatively smooth (minus the fact that it was a redeye so I did not sleep at all) and I arrived in Paris on January 12th around 12h00. The first moment of culture shock occurred when I was greeted by signs written entirely in French. My brain switched to 24/7 translation in that moment and has yet to switch back. My car arrived at the airport and I was able to exchange niceties with the driver in somewhat broken French. My host mother (Drissia, she’s a main character in my life here and should be treated with such respect) and her dog, Talia, welcomed me as I clumsily carried my suitcases into the apartment. Before I could unpack, I met two other international students who share the apartment and was whisked away to a lunch with friends. A lot of small stresses happened that I will not get into but my first 24 hours in Paris consisted of trying to learn the entire French language in 10 minutes, jet lag, getting a metro pass, validating my visa, purchasing toiletries, getting another negative Covid test, switching my SIM card and meeting a lot of people. Due to the lack of sleep, I may have cried once but it was purely out of exhaustion.

So the language barrier – I speak English and a good bit of Spanish but I have never taken a French class. I taught myself as much as I could using the internet and my roommate at home (shout out to Lauren Pfleuger who is currently in Rome) before arriving but not nearly enough. Many hospitality services here speak English, but the French are very proud of their language and I want to respect their willingness to welcome me into their country by learning their language and culture with humility. At my host home, we only speak French at dinner so I listen to French conversation for two hours a day, and I ask questions as frequently as possible. Drissia, a queen truly, also sits with me for an hour or two every day to teach me to write and read French as well. I have been here for a week and I can now carry out a short, pleasant conversation in French as well as navigate any business interactions without switching to English – a small step but an important one.

On the other side a a few full nights of sleep and gaining confidence in a new language, I have gone out and about with friends and on my own to see the beauty of Paris. I indulged in a few tourist stereotypes (the Eiffel Tower, the Sacré Cœur, baguettes and croissants) but I also explored my new home in the 11th arrondissement finding my favorite pâtisseries, grocery stores, bars and parks to walk in. Also, I must admit that the love for baguettes and croissants is not a false stereotype; every French household I have visited has a baguette or two sitting on their kitchen table and pâtisseries are packed with locals every hour of the day ordering a croissant, tarte or other treat of choice. In general, Paris is beginning to feel like a new home with the big city opportunities of Chicago but a different, beautiful language and culture.

If you want to see more of the glossy, edited highlights of my time here I will be flooding my Instagram with photo dumps regularly @ellie.stz

If you find yourself in the 11th arrondissement of Paris check out…

  • The Dirty Lemon : a small bar with excellent food and drinks, great for grabbing a table with friends or grabbing a stool by yourself
  • Tout Autour du Pain : a fantastic boulangerie with Drissia’s stamp of approval (which is very difficult to earn as she studied the art of pastries for several years and has tried world renowned recipes)
  • By the République metro station, there is an open park for sitting, skating and admiring where you are.
  • Kott Cafe : a coffee place with expensive lattes (so only go if you want to treat yourself) but the kindest owners who love to welcome all people
Renaissance Art and History – A day trip to Villa Farnese

Renaissance Art and History – A day trip to Villa Farnese

As a part of our orientation we went to Caprarola to visit Villa Farnese. The town is surrounded by volcanic hills and the view of the region from the entrance of the villa is breathtaking.

Palazzo Farnese

View from the entrance of Villa Farnese

The house was commissioned by Alessandro Farnese, also known as Pope Paul III. It was designed by a team of architects, artists, scholars and members of the family to represent the power and accomplishments of the Farnese family.

After entering the reception hall and walking to the courtyard, along the walls you can find paintings depicting the coat of arms of other powerful families the Farnese were allied with, demonstrating their influence in Europe.

Painted arch in the courtyard

Then, as you go up the Royal Stairs, you can see depictions of the Farnese’s many territories, these beautiful landscapes reinforced the idea of the Farnese as powerful and influential. In addition, the dome above the staircase includes the Farnese’s coat of arms with 6 lily flowers.

Royal Staircase
Dome above the stairs

Entering the room on the second floor you can see the Loggia of Hercules, a room depicting the story of how Hercules brought water to the land of the Farnese family and made it fertile, providing food and work for its citizens.

Fountain depicting the abundance of water in the region
Hercules providing water to the people of Caprarola

Then you step into the chapel built by Federico Zuccari after his brother Taddeo Zuccari, who was originally working on the project, passed away. There is an alter and in the center of its dome there is an image of Christ creating the world.

Chapel’s dome

Next you can enter the Sala de Fasti Farnesiani where big paintings adorn the walls depicting scenes of Farnese family members marrying into European royalty, the role of the family in the war against protestants and their participation in the Council of Trent.



Walking onto the following rooms you encounter Alessandro Farnese’s living spaces. He studied, meditated, and slept surrounded by art, carefully curated to guide him as he acted to enact God’s will on Earth. In these rooms scenes from mythology and characters from the Renaissance are intertwined to show the appreciation of past and present ideals and how they complement each other.

Room of the Philosophers
Room of Aurora
Room of Dreams

Continuing onto the shared spaces we can find the dining room, decorated with motifs of penance designed to prevent the gluttony and greed often seen in wealthy families of the time. 

Dinning Room Ceiling

Next to this room we can encounter the Room of Judgement where Alessandro Farnese took on the role of judge for the community. This room has depictions of King Salomon, who represents fair leader and an example of righteousness for Christian judges.

Room of Judgement Ceiling

Afterwards you can find the Room of the World depicting several maps of the continents along the walls and the portraits of Christopher Columbus, Americo Vespucci, Hernando Cortes and other Europeans who explored the American continent. It also contains a map of Italy and a map of Judea.  

Map of the World

Finally we visited the Room of the Angels where meetings were often held due to its incredible acoustics. 


After exiting the villa we continued onto the gardens. The Lower Gardens are characterized by hedges in geometrical shapes and rose gardens. 


Then we walked through the chestnut forest to the Upper Gardens decorated with statues of the Citizens of Caprarola at work and fountains often visited during the summer. 



I really enjoyed learning about the history of the family and imagining what life was like during the 1500s and 1600s. The art and sculptures were very impressive and walking through them felt magical. I look forward to visiting more villas in the region. After our tour of Villa Farnese we had a traditional Italian meal in Caprarola and got on a bus back to campus.  

First Time Blogging, Second Time in Rome

First Time Blogging, Second Time in Rome

I figure that I should start out by introducing myself to anyone who may read this: my name is Lauren Pflueger, and I’ll be writing to you all from Rome this semester! I’m a sophomore studying Information Systems and Management with a minor in French (if you’re wondering, yes, I am a tad concerned about having to keep up with French while also learning Italian). I love sports and running and music and coffee and travel and, as a less relevant fact, am currently watching Sex and the City, so am definitely channeling my inner Carrie Bradshaw as I write this! (I’ll be more appropriate in my writing, of course, and I’m aware that this is a blog and not a column.)

Here’s a picture of me so you know who you’re reading!

My study abroad process has been quite an interesting one due to the current pandemic going on; I’m sure you’re all familiar with it? I was originally set to study at Loyola’s other campus in Ho Chi Mihn City in Vietnam, but that was canceled over the fall. Then, I was planning to go to the Paris School of Business (work on that minor and all of that), but that ended up not working out either. So, here we are, heading to Rome! Don’t get me wrong, Rome is a wonderful place and I am so looking forward to studying and living here, but as the title of this entry might imply, I’ve been to Rome before, thus had a motivation to try to live somewhere new. Granted, that trip was when I was 12 for 10 days– seeing as I am now 20, and will be spending multiple months here, I think it will be a much different experience.

Me in Venice at 12 years old

I won’t make this post too much longer, but I am going to share some things that I am hoping to talk about! I am in a year-long, long-distance relationship, with a cute, silly boy who runs track at a school called Xavier University, in Cincinnati, Ohio; the majority of our relationship has been long-distance actually, but we have yet to have an international long-distance relationship, so some of my experiences with that may trickle into this blog.

My boyfriend CJ and I at an outdoor museum in Pittsburgh, where we both live!

I also hope to write about your classic travel blog things, such as where I’m traveling to, both within Italy and out of it, as well as the people I meet and friendships that I make. They told us on the first night here to “make Rome our home”, so I’d love to document how that goes and see by the end if I actually succeed. I’ll also be talking about what school life is like here, and what it’s like making new friends in a foreign country, especially after an interesting past few semesters, socially speaking. I’ll maybe even have some recommendations for music I’m listening to, gelato flavors, or other great things I find for anyone reading this who may be coming here in the future!

I was hoping to post this before I got to explore here, but due to technical complications it’s a little late and so I’ve already had some adventures in Rome! I can’t wait to post an update about orientation week, and I also hope that someone besides me maybe read these (fingers crossed!)

Love at First Sight – An Evening Stroll around Ancient Rome

Love at First Sight – An Evening Stroll around Ancient Rome

I cannot believe I finally landed in Rome! These few days have been full of adventures and I am already starting to discover everything this city has to offer. From architectural wonders and monuments to small cafes and gelaterias, there are opportunities to learn about Italian culture, view works of art, and embrace a new lifestyle everywhere.

On my second night in Rome I joined some of the Rome Start students (who have been on campus since September 2021) for a evening stroll around Ancient Rome. Since they are more familiar with the area and some of them took a class on Art in Rome last semester, they guided us through the historical sites. We took a bus from the JFRC to the Vatican City where we saw Saint Peter’s Basilica and the Obelisk at Saint Peter’s Square.

We continued down Piazza Pio XII through the Vittorio Emanuele II bridge and to our left we saw Saint Angelo’s Castle and the Bridge of Angels.

After a few more blocks we found Piazza Navona and the Four River fountain.

Then we continued walking until we reached the Pantheon.

After spending some time in the piazza we headed for Trevi Fountain.

We continued walking south to the Altar of the Fatherland, the Roman Forum and eventually the Coliseum.

Then we took a bus back to campus.

I was really surprised by how many historical sites you could see in one night. Walking around the streets of Rome was lovely. Even residential buildings in the city center have beautiful architecture and you can find beauty in every corner. I look forward to visiting these sites again to explore the treasures inside and learn more about the history, culture, art and politics of the Roman world.