"History Is More Interesting Now!"
The girls' AP European history class took on a whole new light after their Roman adventure. "I never liked the subject before, but all of a sudden I'm defending it to the other kids," Hannah says. "The other day they were complaining about it, and I was like, 'No, it's so cool!' "
The guide at the Vatican explained that in the past, a few popes objected to the outright nudity of the statues, so they had the risqué parts covered with fig leaves. Hannah and Paige made a game out of the trivia, snapping photos of all the fig-less sculptures they could find—they ended up with 10 in all.
In the 'hood
A bridge connects Trastevere, where the group stayed, to the rest of Rome. "I loved our neighborhood," says Hannah. "In U.S. cities, alleys can be kind of sketchy, but there they were so cute, and you just wanted to explore them."
During a private tour of the city sights, the crew stopped at the Trajan's Market ruins. "Our guide told us it was built as a shopping arcade," says Tamar. "The girls were so interested in everything he said. Of course, it didn't hurt that he was absolutely gorgeous!"
Relishing the ruins
"The thing that amazed us the most about Rome was that there were ancient ruins everywhere," Tamar says. "I think James summed it up best when he said that if any of this stuff were in the U.S., it would be roped off and behind glass. In Rome, it's just all out in the open and a normal part of life."
"All the fountains were so pretty!" Hannah says. During a nighttime stroll, she and Paige posed on one, near the Spanish Steps. But the Trevi Fountain was everyone's favorite. "None of us had any idea how huge it is," Tamar says. "We could hear the water rushing even before we saw the fountain." Legend has it that if you toss a coin into the fountain, you'll return to Rome. "We didn't have any small coins, but it didn't matter—we threw in the big ones instead!"