Dancing at Lughnasa., Here you will find a review of the Study Trips which have been successfully completed this semester thus far. Read the following post to discover the great adventures students have experienced!, Prof. Wingenter, SLA Russell Gonzalez and 26 JFRC students ventured to the Tuscan countryside, sampling the best local culinary delights Tuscany has to offer., Nine JFRC students, Fr. Ted Bohr, S.J., and SLA Russell Gonzalez explored Catalonia while feeding their minds, bodies and souls, thus inaugurating the JFRC's first Spain Ignatian Pilgrimage., Professor Anne Wingenter and Student Life Assistants Brian Godfrey and Jack Spittle led sixteen students through Serbia and Bosnia during Spring Break; crossing bridges between the ancient and modern prewar and post-war worlds in these Central and Southeastern European countries. , The Spring Break 2013 study trip to Northern Greece and Turkey led 54 JFRC students, Dr. Cavallo, Dr. Evers, Dr. Ioanna Kopsiafti, JFRC alumnus Jim Centner and SLA Gina Crovetti on a Greek-Turkish adventure, following the footsteps of Alexander the Great., Forty JFRC students, Prof. Alexander Evers and SLA Gina Crovetti traveled to Sicily to explore the ancient crossroads where Greek, Roman, Normanic and Borbonic history and influence shaped the Mediterranean's largest island., Thursday, May 23rd will mark the conclusion of the 50th anniversary commemoration of the John Felice Rome Center. Our 50th Anniversary celebration began with a special alumni event in our hometown of Chicago. It was attended by hundreds of friends and family of the JFRC, whose lives were touched by our founder, John Felice. We will conclude our celebratory year with a Mass dedicated to John Felice on Thursday, May 23rd at 6:45 PM at the Chiesa di Sant'Ignazio, Via della Caravita 8A in the centro storico of Rome. Mass will be followed by a banquet which will be attended by current students, faculty, staff, local alumni, and the members of the Loyola Rome Center Foundation. , Spring semester students headed south to the Amalfi Coast for Orientation, escaping the bustle of Rome and enjoying the almost-unbeatable scenery of the Mediterranean., On Wednesday January 23, the John Felice Rome Center Community came together to celebrate the capstone of the Orientation experience, the Mass of the Holy Spirit, in the Church of Saint Ignatius in the downtown historic center of Rome., The John Felice Rome Center mirrored Loyola University Chicago’s events of Hunger Week throughout the week of November 12-15 in Rome. Students raised a grand total of €1,810, by participating in events focused on food awareness. The money was donated to the community of Sant'Egidio and the Jesuit Refugee Service. , Fall students harvest the JFRC's olives from its very own olive grove., Rome Center students participated in a two-day trip around central Italy to get first-hand glimpse of the role that Italy played during WWII. They were led by JFRC alumni and faculty member, Dr. Anne Wingenter. , Spring 2015 Students had the unique opportunity to partake in the JFRC Leadership Certificate." /> Dancing at Lughnasa., Here you will find a review of the Study Trips which have been successfully completed this semester thus far. Read the following post to discover the great adventures students have experienced!, Prof. Wingenter, SLA Russell Gonzalez and 26 JFRC students ventured to the Tuscan countryside, sampling the best local culinary delights Tuscany has to offer., Nine JFRC students, Fr. Ted Bohr, S.J., and SLA Russell Gonzalez explored Catalonia while feeding their minds, bodies and souls, thus inaugurating the JFRC's first Spain Ignatian Pilgrimage., Professor Anne Wingenter and Student Life Assistants Brian Godfrey and Jack Spittle led sixteen students through Serbia and Bosnia during Spring Break; crossing bridges between the ancient and modern prewar and post-war worlds in these Central and Southeastern European countries. , The Spring Break 2013 study trip to Northern Greece and Turkey led 54 JFRC students, Dr. Cavallo, Dr. Evers, Dr. Ioanna Kopsiafti, JFRC alumnus Jim Centner and SLA Gina Crovetti on a Greek-Turkish adventure, following the footsteps of Alexander the Great., Forty JFRC students, Prof. Alexander Evers and SLA Gina Crovetti traveled to Sicily to explore the ancient crossroads where Greek, Roman, Normanic and Borbonic history and influence shaped the Mediterranean's largest island., Thursday, May 23rd will mark the conclusion of the 50th anniversary commemoration of the John Felice Rome Center. Our 50th Anniversary celebration began with a special alumni event in our hometown of Chicago. It was attended by hundreds of friends and family of the JFRC, whose lives were touched by our founder, John Felice. We will conclude our celebratory year with a Mass dedicated to John Felice on Thursday, May 23rd at 6:45 PM at the Chiesa di Sant'Ignazio, Via della Caravita 8A in the centro storico of Rome. Mass will be followed by a banquet which will be attended by current students, faculty, staff, local alumni, and the members of the Loyola Rome Center Foundation. , Spring semester students headed south to the Amalfi Coast for Orientation, escaping the bustle of Rome and enjoying the almost-unbeatable scenery of the Mediterranean., On Wednesday January 23, the John Felice Rome Center Community came together to celebrate the capstone of the Orientation experience, the Mass of the Holy Spirit, in the Church of Saint Ignatius in the downtown historic center of Rome., The John Felice Rome Center mirrored Loyola University Chicago’s events of Hunger Week throughout the week of November 12-15 in Rome. Students raised a grand total of €1,810, by participating in events focused on food awareness. The money was donated to the community of Sant'Egidio and the Jesuit Refugee Service. , Fall students harvest the JFRC's olives from its very own olive grove., Rome Center students participated in a two-day trip around central Italy to get first-hand glimpse of the role that Italy played during WWII. They were led by JFRC alumni and faculty member, Dr. Anne Wingenter. , Spring 2015 Students had the unique opportunity to partake in the JFRC Leadership Certificate." />

Loyola University Chicago

John Felice Rome Center


Tastes of Toscana: A Breath of Fresh Air Embodied in a Weekend

Written by student, Baylee Corona.

From the delectable food and wine to the breathtaking sights of Tuscany, this incredible trip exceeded my expectations. The villa we stayed at was absolutely gorgeous, with picturesque views and the most hospitable hosts who blessed us with the luxurious amenities and extraordinary meals, from eggplant parmesan and pork gnocchi to the most delicious tiramisu I’ve ever had.

Speaking of food, one of my favorite parts of the whole trip were the wine and prosciutto tastings. We paired nine different wines and three types of olive oil and balsamic vinegars (one of which was aged for 30 years) with delicious foods like prosciutto, salami, pecorino cheese, and one of the best lasagnas I’ve ever had (I am SO making it when I get home… I hear the recipe is online). We were also given a tour of a local prosciutto farm, where we learned how they ethically raise the pigs and then tasted slices of prosciutto from the different parts of the pig.

Besides the food, we went on incredibly interesting guided tours of famous sights,- led by the sweetest, most enthusiastic tour guide who I LOVED- like the breathtaking Duomo in San Gimignano, the Piccolomini Library and Museo Civico in Siena and the beautiful grounds of the Montestigliano villa. We were also given ample free time to relax in the villa, roam around the incredible cities of Tuscany, take pictures, visit local shops & fooderies and make irredeemable memories with our friends.

The “family dinners” were the best parts of the day because we all came together each night to wine, dine and connect through our shared love of food, travel and laughter. The bonus karaoke night on Saturday was the most fun I’ve had in a while and it was such a delight to dance and sing and forget about my worries in this beautiful space with such a wonderful group of people.


I will hold these blessed memories with me forever and I highly recommend this trip to anyone who studies at the JFRC in the future.

Meet Mireille: Beyond the Crisis, Education in a Refugee Context

The JFRC community welcomed Dr. Mireille Twayigira, a former Rwandan refugee and Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) education advocate to campus on Tuesday, October 30, 2018. Dr. Twayigira shared her experiences and highlighted the importance of refugee access to education. Read librarian Anne Wittrick's reflection to Mireille's powerful story.

"Imagine being a stateless refugee in Malawi and winning a scholarship to study medicine in China! You’d be excited right? Then you find out you can’t leave the country because you do not have a passport. When you get to China, you discover you have to learn Mandarin to have any hope of becoming a doctor. Mireille Twayigira’s story makes doing study abroad in Rome look like a walk in the park! In fact one of our professors came away thinking she does not push her students enough.

The licensed medical doctor captivated students, faculty and guests alike at the annual Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS)/John Felice Rome Center (JFRC) event in October. Her father was killed in Rwanda during the genocide. At two years old, she escaped with her school teacher mother and other members of her family. She walked, often barefoot and hungry, across the Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia and Mozambique losing one relative after the other to malaria and starvation before reaching safety in the Dzaleka refugee camp in Malawi with only her Grandfather. He died soon afterwards but she managed to keep going thanks to the JRS, which provided her with an education that led her from a scholarship in an excellent Secondary School to qualification as a doctor in China and back to Malawi for her clinical training! Not even that was easy because she had to adapt what she had studied to local circumstances.

Mireille’s story shows how school attendance is vital to the empowerment of refugees across the world. By helping them reach their full potential through education, the JRS hopes to protect human rights and make a long-term investment in a more peaceful and prosperous future. Mireille’s success surely convinces you that this is the way forward."

Conquering the Strada

Strada delle 52 Gallerie Study Trip


Written by Anne Wittrick 

Encouraged by history professor, Anne Wingenter, I decided to join the weekend trip she was leading for 23 of our intrepid students, the highlight of which was a hike up the 52 Tunnel Road on Monte Pasubio in the North of Italy.

We left on the now efficient Italian train service early on Friday morning and our first port of call was Verona. Part of the large Roman amphitheater known as the Arena was being restored, but the barriers were decorated with a display of all the posters advertising the operas held there going back to before the First World War. It was fascinating to see how the styles changed through art deco, futurism and Fascism. Our meanderings took us through charming streets, past cute balconies and into intriguing churches

Next stop was Vicenza where we visited the fascinating Teatro Olimpico with its trompe d’oeil stage set designed by the architect Andrea Palladio. His Four Books of Architecture influenced styles as far away as St Petersburg, Russia, Great Britain and the United States. Vicenza is his hometown and features many town houses of his elegant design. Next, we climbed up a porticoed sidewalk, 700 meters long made up of 150 archways to a church with a panoramic square dedicated to the fallen of the two World Wars. It afforded great views over the city and the mountains, our destination the following day.

The 52 Tunnel Road was built during the First World War from February to November of 1917. Its purpose was to create a supply route up to the front line on the crest of the mountain, which faced down onto what is now the Trentino region of Italy but was then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. If the line had fallen the Austro Hungarians would have had a free run across the vast plains of Italy’s Veneto region. Using a photograph of a view of the mountain, a rough sketch was made of where the track should pass. When the mountain blocked the way, the engineers hewed through the rock from both ends. The meeting place in the middle sometimes had to be adjusted with a few steps. One of the tunnels spirals upwards, others offer ledges where the magnificent views can be taken in, but it should be remembered that their original purpose was as a defensive position. The tunnels were often pitch black so we made good use of our torches aware that the troops and their supply-laden mules will have been thankful for the shelter from enemy fire. I’m sure the pictures portray what a unique experience the hike was and how lucky we were with the weather! You’ll also realize that we “adults” had our hearts in our mouths as the students climbed to the most precarious spots to get ever more spectacular photos!


Our outing ended with a visit to the Ossuary built in 1923 on the conquered soil of Trentino. It was not the bones we went for, or the view which was amazing, but the chapel decorations: portrayals of fighting soldiers, hand grenades, swords and calls to arms, in attractive liberty style surroundings, incongruous to say the least, a reminder of the ideals of Fascism which was taking hold at the time.

The next day, Sunday, was an “ecological day” in Vicenza, which meant no motorized traffic in the city center. Compared to many other Italian cities, there were relatively few tourists, meaning that the locals, families and groups of friends could enjoy their city’s magnificent squares and Palladian houses. The atmosphere in the streets and in the bars and restaurants throughout the weekend was relaxed and easy-going from the early morning barman who gave us extra goodies to the fine dining restaurant out on the road to Padua, which served delicious fried polenta (cornmeal) and some excellent beef, at a price unheard of in Rome. Thanks go to Student Life Assistant Dan O’Brien who secured all the restaurant reservations and ensured we made our train connections. The poignancy of the history of the places we visited was firmly imprinted on the students’ memories but that did not deny us a good time.



Umbria: Quiet Little Towns with Big Stories

Written by student, Aliana Handal 

Last weekend, September 7th-9th, 220 fall 2018 students, along with staff and members of the JFRC administration, embarked on a weekend trip to various cities in Umbria, a region in Italy known as the country’s “Green Heart”.

The weekend started off with a bang at 5:30am as beloved SLAs ran through the JFRC halls blasting their rendition of “We Will Rock You,” featuring the clanging of pots and pans and thumps of fists on doors. Right from the start it was known that this would be an action-packed weekend!

The first stop on our Umbria adventure was the town of Narni. Unfortunately, students did not find a lion, a witch, or a wardrobe, however, this charming ancient hilltown proved to be both alluring and full of a secret history. Students toured Narni Sotterranea, an underground chapel and prison discovered in 1979 as six boys were playing by the cave.

Narni, Italy

Following a traditional Italian lunch and a quick sprint through the rain to the busses, students arrived at the Albornoz Hotel in Spoleto. There ensued a memorable and reflective community gathering where students came together with their SLAs and administration shared special JFRC traditions.

Bright and early Saturday morning, students set off for a tour of Spoleto, where they marveled in unique ancient frescoes and busy piazzas.

The next stop on the Umbria adventure took JFRCer’s to the (much anticipated) Le Cimate Vineyard. Brothers and owners, Marco and Paolo Bartoloni showed students the beautiful land where they harvest their grapes and walked them through the process of turning them into wine! A delicious lunch was served on the grassy hillside and wine was tasted by all. 

Students then departed for Foligno where they had the opportunity to explore the city (and grab some much needed espresso and gelato) on their own. The town was in the midst of celebrating La Quintana, a medieval jousting tournament which was revived in the 1940s. Today, it involves each "rione," or district, of Foligno to show their neighborhood pride with colorful flags and specially-trained drum corps. Mass was celebrated at Chiesa di Sant’ Agostino, which was built in the 13th century.

On the final day of the Umbrian adventure, students arrived at Tuoro Sul Trasimeno to find men shouting commands and wielding spears. This was the site where the Romans battled the Carthaginians and students were taught about the types of weapons and armor used on the very site of the great battle. Students even got to battle each other in full Roman and Carthaginian gear while shouting “FOR THE EMPIRE!”.

Student Kelsey Frew prepares to battle her fellow classmate at Tuoro sul Trasimeno.

Lunch took place on the gorgeous Castiglion del Lago where a full roast pig was on display. The last stop took students to Citta della Pieve where locals were gearing up for a local festival. Students navigated the narrowest street in all of Italy before boarding the bus to home sweet home, JFRC.

This weekend was the perfect culmination to end orientation and students are now ready to go out and explore the world!


Spring 2018: Andiamo in Campania!

Spring 2018: Andiamo in Campania!

Students in Agropoli, Spring 2018.

The first two weeks of orientation can be jam-packed with information, but it is also memorable and exciting. The info sessions included practical skills to staying happy and healthy while living abroad, how to adjust to culture shock and making the most of the study abroad experience. Additionally, students were introduced to their new home, the staff, faculty and administration, as well as how they can get involved on campus, in the Balduina neighborhood, and Rome. Despite these many introductions and workshops, the first few nights were not wasted; students boldly ventured into the ity center in search of gelato and built community with one another over delicious dinners in the centro. 

Oreintation consists of seeing the historical beauty that Rome has to offer: the Colosseum and Forum. For student Jessica Criollo, a junior from Loyola University Chicago, the visit solidified the fact that she was studying abroad. "I couldn't believe it all summer, but then suddenly, it hit. Seeing the Colosseum, I thought, 'I live here now." 

JFRC Class of Spring 2018 poses in front of the Colosseo.

Students were amazed by the beauty other regions in Italy have to offer with their weekend visit to Campania. The tour included visits to the stunning Reggia Caserta, a stop to the Vannulo buffalo mozzarella farm and the Vini Marino Vinicola, sunsets in Agropoli, dancing the night away with the local folk music group Tammuriata!, and concluded with unforgettable views from the Abbazia di Montecassino. Student Rachel Romualdo was particularly taken with the visits to the Reggia and the Basilica in Montecassino, saying, "The spaces I find myself in here in Italy, particularly the spiritual spaces, truly inspire me to remember my faith here."

Students explore the beautiful Villa Farnese in Caprarola, Lazio during the Spring 2018 orientation trip. Student Joseph Ranieri gets a true taste of Italian mozzarella di bufala at the Vannulo Farms in Campania.

Orientation wrapped up with the traditional Mass of the Holy Spirit. This year's mass was particularly special as the JFRC commemorated the tenth anniversary of founder John Felice's passing. Director Dr. Michael Andrews reached out to the JFRC community to send forward names of loved ones who had passed away to be written in the Book of Remembrance, which was placed on the altar in the Chiesa di Sant'Ignazio during mass. Dinner in the centro followed afterwards as the students, faculty, staff and guests of the John Felice Rome Center celebrated the official academic beginning of the Spring 2018 semester. 

"It was an unforgettable way to start a semester. These are once-in-a-lifetime opportunities that I will not receive again," said junior Elizabeth Cardona. "I won't have the same experience with the same people and visits, but that's what makes it all the more special. I'm ready to see what else Rome has in store." 

Students enjoy a stunning sunset in Agropoli, Campania during the Spring 2018 orientation trip.

For more photos from the Spring 2018 Orientation Trip, check out our Facebook album.

Climate Change and Biodiversity: Lago Trasimeno

Climate Change and Biodiversity: Lago Trasimeno

The importance of biodiversity is globally recognized for its key role in maintaining the ecosystems services (including clean water and air, food, fuel, and disease and climate regulation) which are essential for our persistence in health and in balance with the planet.

Climate change, unsustainable use of natural resources, pollution, introduction of alien species are the main factors that lead to a reduction of more than a third of the flora and fauna on Earth.

The wetlands are one of the most vulnerable ecosystems with the highest rate of disappearance in recent decades. The attention to the wetland conservation and management has grown for their importance as biodiversity resources and for their central role for the functions of aquatic ecosystems.

In this context, the Agency for Environmental Protection ARPA-Umbria has developed in the Polvese Island of the Trasimeno Lake the Centre on Climate Change and Biodiversity focusing on biodiversity studies in lakes and wetlands, in cooperation with other local partners and stakeholders.

As part of the scheduled activities of the Centre "Climate Change and Biodiversity in Lakes and Wetlands" Professor Susanna Greco’s students (course UCSF137) of the Loyola University Chicago–John Felice Rome Center attended a two-day meeting with teachers and technical experts of Arpa Umbria at Polvese Island. 

In the meeting, experts from ARPA Umbria illustrated the environmental condition of the Trasimeno Lake, the activities and programmes that ARPA is currently developing as studies on wetlands, and bioindicators (i.e. diatom algae).

During this JFRC sponsored study trip, students had the opportunity to performing field activities such as sampling bioindicators on the lake according to the national method for evaluation of the ecological quality of Italian lakes, laboratory activities through the observation of their biodiversity with the microscope and data analysis.

This study trip, which took place 7-9 April, 2017, offered participants an opportunity to meet with ARPA experts on the subject, to acquire competence, share experiences, and establish lasting contacts between students and technicians.

Malta: Becoming "A Little More Human"

Malta: Becoming "A Little More Human"


Although the temperature in Malta was only about 10 degrees warmer than Rome, as we stepped off of the airplane and entered the sunlight that the country offered to us as a welcoming present, our group of 20 in unison embraced the Vitamin D and the entirety of the study trip that was to come.

Yes, Malta is a beautiful country. Yes, there were many photo opportunities on the island. Yes, we overate to the point of zero movement. Yes, we had fun on our trip. But, this trip was different than what most of us would experience for the rest of the semester and maybe even for a long time after. How so? Simply put, it wasn’t all about us.

The life of a college student can easily and non-intentionally become self-absorbed. We wake up every morning, go to class, do our schoolwork, maybe fit in an internship or a job, try to remind ourselves to eat 3 ‘healthy’ meals a day, are involved in our school through various different ways, try to figure out how to answer ‘What are your plans post-graduation?’, see our family and friends, and so much more. And we are surprised when getting to the gym just so happens to slip our mind?! Self-absorption is a slippery slope that has become even more present to us millennials through things like social media and even student loans. Which is why, when we were presented with the study trips for the semester, choosing Malta was a no brainer for me. A whole 3-days to learn about a crisis and a culture that has absolutely nothing to do directly with me? Heck yes!

During our short 3-day trip,
we listened to the facts about the refugee crisis specifically in Malta,
we heard a heartbreaking testimony from a refugee about her journey to Malta,
we learned about what the Jesuit Refugee Services are doing to help undocumented migrants that come through Malta,
we experienced the Maltese festivities of the Festival of St. Paul’s Shipwreck,
we appreciated all that Malta has to offer through a hike along the Dingli Cliffs,
we embraced the Maltese values of hospitality that were seen everywhere we went,
and we celebrated Mass with a refugee community.

Truly, it would not be an exaggeration to say that the trip was a life changing one. We were given an opportunity to peer into a life that was completely unlike our own yet were welcomed with open arms to do so. And in the words of the refugee that shared her testimony with us, learning about the lives and experiences of others helped us to become “a little more human”.

-Written by Arianna Georgette Vranas, John Felice Rome Center Spring 2017

A Big Fat Greek Fall Break

A Big Fat Greek Fall Break

As I stared into blue horizon, the thin line that separated sea from sky slowly solidified into a tan island, punctuated by mountain peaks. All around it, the Aegean Sea glistened green, an emerald expanse inviting us to seek its treasures. Peeking down at the Attica peninsula below me, I noticed little white structures dotted the golden brown terrain. Considering the various aerial views I’ve experienced in my lifetime, this appeared the simplest of them all. But when there’s an abundance of natural beauty surrounding you, does extravagant architecture really matter that much anyway?

After a smooth landing and an even smoother baggage claim, we finally got to meet the 50th member of our cohort: our Greek tour guide Ioanna Kopsiafti. She wore an outfit entirely of black and white, with minimal jewelry and long black boots. Her olive skin reflected a healthy glow, and she carried herself with a unique air of self-assured humility that few convincingly achieve. I could already tell from her outfit and swagger that she possessed just the right balance of refined sophistication and worldly ruggedness.

“Welcome to Greece!” she twanged.

Click here to read Daryn Robinson's entire blog post about her study trip to Greece!

World War II Weekend

World War II Weekend

On October 22nd and 23rd, a group of students were led by JFRC alumni Jim Centner and Phil O’Connor, along with JFRC faculty member Anne Wingenter and SLA Erin, around Rome during the WWII Study Trip.  On the first day of the trip, the group visited many different locations in the surrounding areas of Rome to learn about the American and Allied campaign through Italy including the German War Cemetery, Isola Bella, and the Beach of Nettuno.  Most notably, students got to see real military vehicles and equipment from the war at Museo Piana delle Orme and heard a couple stories of a few brave Americans while visiting the Sicily Rome American Cemetery in Nettuno.  Before the cemetery closed a few students even had the privilege to lower the colors. 

On the second of the trip, Jim and Phil led the group through various locations within Rome to learn about the Italian resistance of the Nazis in Rome during the war.  They observed the plaques commemorating the Battle of Rome (1943) and Liberation at Porta San Paolo (1944), visited the Museo della Liberazione on Via Tasso, and heard a story of a particular resistance sabotage that happened along Via Rasella while standing on the street itself.  The 2-day study trip ended with a walk to Grappolo D’Oro to eat a fantastic feast for lunch before students returned to the JFRC or decided to join continue the trip with an extra walk through the Jewish Ghetto.  Overall, it was a wonderful learning and cultural experience and we at the JFRC thank Jim and Phil for their dedication and hard work towards putting together this weekend study trip. 

Click here to read the 12th Edition WWII Guide by Phil O'Connor.

Day Trip to Ostia Antica and the Catacombs

This weekend, 30 students, SLA Ryan, and Dr. John Nicholson took a trip to Ostia Antica and the catacombs of St. Domitilla. Students explored the ancient settlement of Ostia for the morning and traveled underground for an afternoon's exploration of the ancient Christian burial grounds. See what Jessica Jenkner had to say about the trip below. 

"Having been to Pompeii before, I was very excited to visit Ostia Antica to compare. I was amazed at how much was there. Since the city was covered by mud, everything has been well preserved. I felt as though I saw more than when I visited Pompeii. The detail of the ruins was beautiful. My favorite part was the marble mosaics. I was surprised to see that they depicted animals such as dolphins, elephants and tigers. After having free time to explore the ruins, we headed to the catacombs. It is hard to imagine the time and effort it took to complete the five levels of burial tombs. The catacombs remained covered until the late 19th century. The man that discovered them was trapped initially for three days after he got lost in the seemingly endless passageways."

Written by Jessica Jenkner, Loyola University Chicago 2018

Loyola 360 Retreat in Rome

Loyola 360 is a retreat created for all first year students of Loyola – including Chicago and Rome. Participants have the opportunity to spend a weekend at a small town in Italy reflecting on their first year experience and building community with other Rome Start students. Led by upperclass student leaders, the first year students in Rome have the opportunity to be connected with the Rome Start community, the JFRC community, and the first-year community in Chicago. Introducing students to the Jesuit mission and ideals, the weekend is spent in small groups discussing aspects of the students' first years in Rome. Upperclass student leaders talk about their experiences and help Rome Start students feel adjusted to life in college as well as share experiences about transitioning to Chicago. Rome Start students are able to move to Chicago already connected to a large community of previous 360 participants. 

The retreat is subsidized by the John Felice Rome Center and students are asked to pay €50 to attend.

The date for the Fall 2016 Loyola 360 Retreat in Rome is the weekend of November 4-6.

The Rome Start Class of 2019 on the Loyola 360 Retreat with the retreat leaders and SLA Elly.

Student Internship Reflection

Klaudia Kukulka Internship Reflection

Whenever a pre-med student is asked about studying abroad, the typical answer involves a skeptical smirk, an eye roll, and some sort of a mannerism embodying the sarcastic words “yeah, right.” As a pre-med student in my junior year, that is how I reacted the first time I was asked about studying abroad. As if fours years of biology, organic chemistry, physics, calculus – the list goes on – wasn’t enough to worry about, the thought of taking a semester off to travel and enjoy my time as a college student was almost too good to be true; however, it proved possible and was overwhelmingly rewarding for me.

I spent a semester abroad at the John Felice Rome Center and through close cooperation with Nadia Cristiani, the JFRC internship coordinator, I had the opportunity to intern at a Nuclear Medicine Clinic.  While at Madonna Della Fiducia, I assisted in the cardiology department for ten hours every week and was exposed to a clinical setting while having the chance to observe and gain hands-on experience. I worked under the direct supervision of Dr. Nudi, the head of the cardiology department in the clinic, and collaborated with Dr. Biondi Zoccai on a medical scope review. By participating in both the clinical and research aspect of the internship, I gained a greater appreciation and understanding of how Myocardial Perfusion Scintigraphy and Radioactive Isotopes work in the context of Nuclear Medicine. Being able to learn the technical side of the process and then witness it in person added a valuable dimension to the internship that allowed me to communicate with people, while applying my knowledge gained from books. Similarly, having access to nuclear imaging results and doctors’ interpretations also taught me about cardiovascular problems, which was quite beneficial to me as a current EMT and future physician.

Through my internship at Madonna Della Fiducia, I assisted with over 300 exercise stress tests, pharmacological tests and myocardial Perfusion Scintigraphy acquisitions. I learned Italian medical terminology and basic dialogue, which helped me to adapt to the culture and introduced me to a different healthcare system. I conducted EKGs, which resulted in my ability to recognize arrhythmias, the delay of electrical impulse in the right and left ventricle, and ST elevations and depressions. While taking a patient’s blood pressure and observing their behavior during the stress test, I could see the direct impact that Myocardial Ischemia had on each individual. Besides the technical and medical knowledge that I have gained from this internship, I have also learned a lot about cultural awareness and being able to adapt. I was exposed to a more personable, patient-doctor relationship, which greatly differed from the interactions that I have experienced in a United States clinic. Although my previous experience as an EMT in a clinic and on campus has helped me with patient interaction, this internship offered a new challenge because of the language barrier. When I first walked into the clinic, I had no idea what to expect. Although I was incredibly nervous and anxious, it was this unpredictability that pushed me out of my comfort zone and motivated me to work harder.

By sharing my experience, I want to encourage other pre-med students to brainstorm and look further into the possibility of studying abroad. Although it required a lot of planning, emailing, and some summer school classes, it was certainly worth it in the end. I must say that this internship will forever define my experience in Rome. The Italian attitude of investing time into people rather than just progress and results, deeply resonated with me. While some students simply see studying abroad as the chance to relax, take advantage of the lax drinking laws, and take easier classes in order to travel, this time can also be used effectively to seek out opportunities that will allow pre-med students to stand out while applying to medical schools. By patiently seeking out possible internships or volunteer options in other countries, every pre-med student should look at studying abroad as a chance to become a more culturally aware and well-rounded future physician.

Nevertheless, having an educational experience by participating in a demanding internship does not mean that students will miss out on the opportunity to have a great time, travel, and make memorable friendships. Working in the clinic introduced me to wonderful individuals and offered me a glimpse into true Italian lifestyles rather than the typical exposure that tourists receive. Through effective planning and balancing of all of my responsibilities, I was still able to travel throughout Italy along with countries like Greece, Croatia, Morocco, and Spain. It is crucial for me to emphasize that studying abroad is what you make of it. I was lucky enough to get the best of both worlds while immersing myself in the Italian medical system and simultaneously travelling all over Europe. I am truly thankful for this life-changing opportunity and hope to bring this open-minded, Italian attitude along with me, when approaching any and every new experience.

Klaudia Kukulka

In Search of a Life: An Experience in Malta with the JFRC

In Search of a Life: An Experience in Malta with the JFRC

Students & Faculty from the JFRC in Valletta, Malta. Not Pictured: Cindy Bomben & SLA Pedro Guerrero

By: SLA Pedro Guerrero

I’ll be honest with you, a weekend spent coming face to face with one of the biggest humanitarian crises in the world was not easy. I mean, why would I expect it to be, having an idea of what I was getting myself into? I had read the headlines, seen the news clips, listened to first-hand stories, but never did I try to come face to face with it until now.

On our first day in Malta, the group visited the Jesuit Refugee Service branch offices in Birkirkara. There, we met Fr. Mark Cachia, SJ. He stood in front of us without a script, telling us about the history of the refugee crisis in Malta. He indicated that Malta is a country built from a synthesis of its various colonizers. He talked about how the Maltese people treated the refugee influx as another invasion. Malta, due to its location to Northern Africa, played the role of the “gate-keeper” for those seeking refuge in mainland Europe. He spoke with resentment toward the government’s gut reaction to hold refugees in detention centers for 10-18 months at a time. Malta, in short, was a limbo of sorts for refugees.

I come from a family of asylum seekers. Even though I don’t remember, I myself was an asylum seeker before I had even reached 2 years old. After being targeted by the Sendero Luminoso, a violent group of insurgents seeking to overthrow Peru’s conservative authoritarian government, my family fled to the United States in the early 1990s. The idea of re-establishing a life in a country where they don’t speak my native language is, to this day, unfathomable to me. We were some of the lucky ones.

Fr. Mark said something that really struck home for me: “Often times, refugees are not in pursuit of a better life, but in pursuit of a life.” I can’t help but feel resentment toward governments and individuals that see history repeat itself. My father went from being a practicing doctor one day to waking up at 4AM every morning to throw out newspapers on the streets of Miami the next. Today we see people like Munira, a mother of 2 from Libya, go from working and living a prosperous life one day to fleeing through the Saharan desert with her two kids the next. Munira and her family are some of the lucky ones.

History continues to repeat itself. This idea of pushing away the stranger based on differences (e.g. race, religion, country of origin) is nothing new. We saw it in the United States with the imprisonment of the Japanese people during World War II. We saw it with the Red Scare in the United States and the birth of McCarthyism. We saw it after 9/11 and the manifestation of Islamophobia shortly after. We see it today with our refugee brothers and sisters fleeing from war-torn countries in Africa and the Middle East.

This idea of being in search of a life is so foreign to us. As students, faculty, and staff of a university, we’ve become so accustomed to going through our daily lives. Despite moving to a different country, we live in a privileged state in which we are able to choose our homes, sometimes even choose where we want to sleep each night. We live in a community where lunch is served from 11:45-2:15PM and dinner is served from 5:45-7:30PM, without question. We sometimes fail to recognize that our expectations reflect our comforts. The weekend in Malta taught me that while we expect to live in a world of peace, happiness, and prosperity, some people may not even expect to live.

“We can all be refugees, Nobody is safe, All it takes is a mad leader, Or no rain to bring forth food. We can all be refugees, we can all be told to go, We can be hated by someone for being someone.”

-Benjamin Zephaniah 

Best of the Balkans: Not Your Average Spring Break

"As Student Life Assistant Ryan Bedell described, 'Even if this trip doesn’t change the course of your life, it will split it in two; you will have the life you lived before the trip and one that begins after”. No truer nor more eloquent words have been spoken. You might be one of the people that asks, 'What is the Balkans and is that a gelato flavor?' The Balkans is a region to Italy’s east. We made stops in Serbia, Bosnia, and Croatia. I can personally vouch that these places are so underrated by student travelers. Think, when is the last time you heard your friend say they were going to Bosnia for the weekend? It likely has not happened. These countries have the beauty of Greece, the war history of Germany, and the food of Italy. Each offers a new and unique experience, with highlights including fortresses, mountains, natural springs, beautiful markets/shopping, Turkish coffee, war torn buildings, various currencies, and the bread, WOW, the bread is amazing. Additionally, the Bosnia-Serbian war of the 1990’s, which many of us admittedly did not know much about, still presents fresh wounds, destroyed families, abandoned buildings, and mass graves that are still being uncovered to this day. The history and differing perspectives we experienced puts a lot of things on the front of your mind and made all of us appreciate more the safety and security we have in our lives. Go to these countries. Take a risk and experience eastern Europe in a way most students don’t. Ask any of the trip participants for recommendations and they will blab your head off for hours. Many thanks to our Student Life Assistants Ryan and Fran, as well as Dr. Anne Wingenter for a trip that did change the course of my life." -Aaron Carlson, Loyola University Chicago, 2017


"I usually journal about my study abroad experience but for the Balkans trip, I felt that I didn’t have to because the experience was going to live with me forever. We started in Belgrade to learn about the many bombings and wars the city has been through and how it has impacted the culture. The Serbians are strong willed, love to enjoy life by going to night clubs and indulging in various meat dishes. Our tour guide explained that Serbians live in the moment because of their past. When a taxi driver some students and I had, pointed out bombed buildings and accused, 'Look what your people did'. It made me feel for them but also wrongly blamed. When we entered Bosnia we learned about the genocide that was committed against the Bosniac Muslims by the Orthodox Serbians. It now brought light to why NATO had bombed Belgrade. We felt welcomed in Sarajevo because the locals were appreciative we were learning about them so something like that doesn’t happen again. After all, it was an Olympic City in 1984 and a war zone by 1992. I walked away with a lot from this trip, the blind hate people can have, the importance of dropping grudges, and to enjoy life because you never know what turn it can take." -Lukas Gilius, Loyola University Chicago, 2018


Sunny Weekend in Sicily

Sunny Weekend in Sicily

JFRC students enjoying the beautiful ruins of Sicily.

Over the weekend of February 19-21st, 40 students, accompanied by the crew of Dr. Sander Evers, the Beazley family, Dr. Lambert, and SLAs Elly, Sam & Mike, were exposed to the adventure that was Sicily. SLAs Sam and Elly did an incredible job planning this voyage for the JFRC students. After flying in through Palermo, they visited the cathedral and cloister of Monreale, explored through the ruins of Selinunte, and had an amazing dinner which included a lot of delicious seafood in Agrigento. The next day, the group headed to the Valley of the Temples, followed by a stop in Piazza Armerina to tour the Villa Romana and its world renowned mosaics. The day ended with an unforgettable dinner in Taormina. Sunday included a tour of the Greco-Roman Theatre which had a breathtaking view of not only the sea and the town, but also the majestic Mt. Etna. Sicily captured the hearts of many, if not all, of the students, with its beautiful and varied geography, amazing food, and magic.

Day Trip to Ostia Antica

Ostia Antica Spring 2016

Dr. Nicholson lecturing the students about the ruins at Ostia Antica.

On Saturday, February 6th, 35 students had the opportunity to venture the site of Ostia Antica—the ancient port city of Rome with SLA Fran & Dr. Nicholson. Dr. Nicholson led the group on a guided tour of the ancient town, his vast knowledge of the subject apparent and his passion unparalleled. The site of Ostia Antica dates back to the 4th century BC and sits at the mouth of the Tiber River. Ostia used to protect the Tiber River from unwanted intruders that sought to make their way to Rome. After wandering the ruins and having free time to explore, the students then made their way to the Catacombs of St. Domitilla. These catacombs lay on the outskirts of ancient Rome, near the Appia Antica, and span more than 80m below ground. They are comprised of more than 17 kilometers (11 miles) of underground corridors that formed a necropolis—or city of the dead. St. Domitilla is the largest catacomb in Rome, and at one point housed over 150,000 tombs. These catacombs are also home to some of the earliest known Christian art—as one tomb has the first found painted images of St. Peter and St. Paul.

JFRC Service Leadership Certificates

JFRC Service Leadership Certificates

The International Leadership Certificate at the John Felice Rome Center has continued the tradition of being a transformative experience for students studying in Rome. Guided by the Student Life team, 14 students this fall were awarded their certificates after completing a variety of activities that aimed to have them think critically about leadership in their own lives as well as historically and around the world. The goal of the certificate program is to not only continue to recognize the positive impacts of these young global leaders already here at the JFRC, but to also give them the opportunity to synthesize and share these experiences with the rest of the community.  These students chose to add an additional dimension of global learning to their study abroad experience by engaging with Rome on diverse levels through service and socio-cultural conversations. 

Participants engaged in conversations about leadership and were given the opportunity to take an inside look at their own personalities and how they can be impactful as a leader. Each student participated in service opportunities around the community by distributing food to Rome’s people experiencing homelessness with Opera del divin Redentore, making crafts for sick children and families at Casa Ronald, or cleaning up the neighborhood they live in with Comitato Balduina. Participants were given the option to engage in leadership in other ways by participating in the Calcio league as a captain or commissioner, leading a Christian Life Community, organize an event on campus with the Student Activities Committee, learn about historical leadership on the World War II Study Trip, assist in the on-campus community garden, tutor or babysit in the neighborhood, and attend two leadership-based lectures on campus. The certification culminated in a final presentation to fellow students, faculty, and staff. The presentations focused on the evolving philosophy of leadership in the student’s life and how engaging in a study abroad experience has changed his or her perspective on global leadership.

Watch the video here.

The JFRC is proud to continue the tradition of the International Leadership Certificate. This is a legacy that will be carried on throughout the years and the community here at the John Felice Rome Center is passionate about fostering leadership amongst its students for semesters to come.
The students that were awarded the International Leadership Certificate for the Fall 2015 semester were:

Lindsey Anderson
Samantha Grzesiak
Elena Hease

Julia Holmertz

Ryan Kime

Nick Marotta

Amanda McDonald

Deanna Pirpiris

Patrice Pirpiris

Amanda Rempert

Olivia Scott

Meredith Starnes

Megan Tomerlin

Ivy Yip.

Congratulazioni ragazzi!

JFRC Cooking in Orvieto

JFRC Cooking in Orvieto

Cooking in Orvieto felt like such an authentically Italian experience that I couldn’t resist joining in on the fun. The trip did not disappoint. The experiences I had in Orvieto were exactly what I was looking for when I decided to study abroad at Loyola’s John Felice Rome Center. We began the weekend by meeting up with “The Etruscan Chef,” Lorenzo Polegri. He owns this fantastic restaurant in Orvieto and that is where we spent Saturday cooking.


Lorenzo met us at the train station and right away he asked us if we wanted breakfast. (The correct answer is always yes when an Italian offers you pastries and a cappuccino.) After we were full (for the first time this weekend), he brought us to the market in Orvieto and we began trying food and buying the foods that we would later turn into a delicious lunch. It felt so authentically Italian to have this chef take us around the marketplace and tell us what to try.


After we were loaded up with vegetables, meats, olives, honey, and other delicious eats, we headed to his restaurant to begin cooking. We got to work right away and he helped us make pizza, pasta, bread, chocolate mousse, and more! It was fantastic to learn from a real chef, and it was great that we were given some freedom in the kitchen as well. Honestly, we were still full from the wonderful food we had for breakfast and at the market, but we were still able to enjoy the lunch that we cooked. This experience was amazing because what we were eating just felt so Italian and so real that we made the food ourselves. After free time in Orvieto, we returned to his restaurant for dinner and had another wonderful meal. That night, I went to bed very full and very happy.


The next morning, I got to start the day by picking olives on the chef’s farm and it was the best morning I have had in Italy thus far. It was great fun to pick olives and it was something that I never would have experienced while traveling on my own in Italy. We ended the weekend by pressing the olives into our very own oil at the local olive mill. This is a souvenir that won’t last me long, but the memories will last me a lifetime. After pressing the olive oil, we went back to Lorenzo’s farm and had some gelato and wine before heading back to the train station and back to Rome.


Honestly, this experience of cooking in Orvieto was the exact “authentically Italian” experience that I was looking for. I had hoped for experiences that will stick with me for a while and this weekend did not disappoint. While Italians no longer pick olives by hand, doing so connected me with what it was like to live in Italy when these crafts were first being cultivated.  This weekend was filled with things that can easily be branded as “the most Italian” and there was not a moment where I went without food, which also felt very Italian. These memories are not ones that will easily be shaken, much like the olives on the trees that we spent the morning picking.



JFRC Tuscany Trip

JFRC Tuscany Trip

The fall trip to Tuscany seems to offer an opportunity for participants to take a step back from the common stressors of life. This trip teaches students about the cultural impact food and wine have in an Italian society. The weekend included a trip to a family vineyard where students participated in a wine tasting, a traditional pig farm to taste prosciutto, salami, etc., as well as an olive grove to taste fresh olive oil. Another important element that this trip provided, was no Wi-Fi. Attention was high, dinners were fun and engaging, and most everyone seemed relaxed. This was a weekend to simplify ourselves and decompress . We learned about the poetry of wine, the delicacies of meat products, and the sophistication of olive oil.

Casa Ronald Palidoro in Rome

Casa Ronald Palidoro in Rome

It was an eye-opening experience to be able to visit Casa Ronald Palidoro in Rome. I went with one other student and the director of residence life at JFRC on a Thursday after class. Upon arrival we were greeted and given a tour of the building, which is small but extremely accommodating for the families who use it. We got to do Halloween crafts with the children and their families, and then play with them for a time afterward. I cannot explain the feeling I got from seeing the kids laugh and smile.

Although I barely know Italian and struggled to speak with the children, they did not care and played along anyways. It was amazing that the kids radiated so much joy and happiness, and that they showed off their personalities, even though they were ill and some even had surgeries the next day. I especially connected with a little girl of about five years who shares the same name as me. She was beautiful and playful and she was fascinated with us Americans. It was heartbreaking to say goodbye to her at the end of the night.

I cannot imagine having an ill child, and Ronald McDonald House allows families to be together during difficult times.

During my experience, I was able to witness and take part in the kindness and compassion embodied in the house that love built. I highly encourage all JFRC students to visit Casa Ronald during their time abroad, if given the opportunity. The visit put things into perspective for me and I definitely want to continue my involvement with this organization upon my return to Chicago in the spring.

—Sofia Thompson, JFRC Student, Fall 2015

Discovering why sandals are the shoes of choice in the Roman Empire

Discovering why sandals are the shoes of choice in the Roman Empire

Not your average shoe store!

In July 2015 I found myself in Rome, Italy completing the last required course of my master’s degree: what a terrible hardship, I know!  As a cohort of aspiring international educators (now graduates of Loyola University Chicago’s International Higher Education program), my classmates and I had the opportunity to facilitate uniquely Italian cultural excursions.  After initiating many Internet searches and discussing several ideas, my group and I decided to embark on an exploration of the history of cobblestones and the role of sandals within the Roman Empire. 

For those who thought that sandals emerged as an antidote to smelly sneakers and blisters from pumps, think again.  In fact, as a result of this cultural excursion, our entire class learned that Romans pioneered the modern sandal as a sign of status.  As the Roman Empire expanded, the use of sandals did too. 

Why sandals, you might be thinking?  While tennis shoes are often considered a safe-choice when it comes to travel footwear, it is HOT in Italy during the summer months.  Take it from me: walking miles and miles on Rome’s cobblestone streets in approximately 100-degree (Fahrenheit) temperatures will almost certainly result in sweaty, swollen, and potentially blistered feet!  Never fear, hand-crafted Roman sandals will protect your feet and make for enjoyable sightseeing no matter how uneven, sharp, slippery, or hard-to-walk-on Rome’s cobblestones streets may be.

Getting back to the field trip, my group and I took our classmates to Oriani, the workshop of an artisan sandal-maker.  Oriani’s owner learned the trade from his uncle who runs a sandal store in Napoli and supplies the raw materials that are used to make sandals like mine!  In order for my classmates to truly understand the sandal-making process, someone had to volunteer their feet, pick a style, choose one or more colors of leather, and watch their one-of-a-kind, Roman sandals being crafted.  Just think, this someone could be you!

We cannot recommend a visit to Oriani enough!  Not only will you receive a generous dose of Italian hospitality, but you will also have the opportunity to be a designer for a day.  Custom-made Oriani sandals are made from Italian leather that comes in a variety of colors and thicknesses.  There are models to suit even the most particular man, woman, or child’s style and feet.  When in Rome, you won’t want to miss Oriani. 

To learn more about artisan sandal-making and probably fall in love with a pair of your very own Roman sandals, visit: Via Torre Argentina, 43a.  The storefront is about as wide as a doorframe so pay close attention, and happy adventures! 

Danielle Breidung

M.Ed., Loyola University Chicago, 2015

Introducing: The Fusion Experiences

Introducing: The Fusion Experiences

This summer, we are introducing a brand new study abroad opportunity for students to travel while they study. By using Italy as the classroom, students can make the most of their time abroad. There are two Fusion Experiences in which students can choose to participate. The first being Archeology – Digging up the Past, and the other being Comparative Italian Cultures through Food, Wine, & Photography. The fusion experiences take place during the Summer Session II and are a pairing of two courses. Students will study in the classroom for two weeks and spend the next two weeks travelling throughout a different region of Italy.

Our two Fusion Experiences focus on delving deeper into Italian culture, making the study abroad experience that much more unique and inspiring. The Archeology course allows students to study the world of Classical Rome and Archeology and then see the coursework come to life in Sicily. Here, students will explore the ruins and temples found on this lush Mediterranean island alongside faculty. History comes to life in this Fusion Experience.

While the Archeology course takes students to the South, our Food, Wine, & Photography class will take students east to Abruzzo. Students have the opportunity to learn about and taste the foods and wines for which Italy is so famous. Then, faculty and students will venture through Abruzzo, capturing Italian culture, food, and wine in photographs. Students will walk away, having a camera full of colorful photographs and satisfied taste buds.

These Fusion Experiences allow students to travel while they learn – earning credit for beyond the classroom experiences. Students can also attend Summer Session I with a Summer Session II Fusion experience to earn a total of four classes (twelve credits) over the summer and receive a generous discount! All that exploring, dreaming, and discovering that Mark Twain wrote about can be realized by taking advantage of this opportunity! So, vai! Go ahead and apply. Italy never disappoints.

Learn more by visiting our Summer page.

World War II Study Trip Fall 2015

World War II Study Trip Fall 2015

Continuing a JFRC tradition, distinguished alumni Phil O’Connor and Jim Centner led students through Rome and surrounding areas on the World War II study trip on October 3rd and 4th. Participants learned about the history of World War II in Rome, Italy, and throughout Europe through visits to various sites. 

On Saturday, 40 students began the day at the German War Cemetery in Pomezia. Seeing the death toll for the German side was an eye-opening way to begin the day. The next stop was Museo Piana delle Orme, where students had the chance to explore the museum and experience life-like exhibits that showed the reality of the time period during the war. Students were then greeted at Isola Bella to learn about the Battle of Cisterna. The group traveled to the Sicily-Rome American Cemetery in Netunno to remember those killed in the war, in particular Loyola alum Pvt. John J. Burke, Jr., of Oak Park, Illinois. The group lowered the colors at the end of the visit to the cemetery. The day was capped off by a visit to the beach at Netunno and students were able to enjoy some sun and sand for a bit before returning to the neighborhood for dinner. 

Sunday began with a visit to the Ardeatine Caves to remember those killed in the massacre that happened in response to those killed at Via Rasella. The trip continued to the Museo Storico della Liberazione and then to Via Rasella to hear the stories of those killed in the war. The group ate a delicious lunch in the city center, and a small group of students concluded the trip with a tour of the Jewish Ghetto. Students appreciated the opportunity to hear stories from Phil and Jim and learn about the reality of World War II in the city that they all now call home.  


PDF Rome Guide on WWII: PDF_WWII Guide

Are you a Tourist or a Pilgrim?

Are you a Tourist or a Pilgrim?
There is an idea that I love. An idea, that I think is truly beneficial to students studying abroad. This idea is that there are two types of travelers: a tourist and a pilgrim. A tourist follows the set route and sees what everyone else does. They don’t stray from routine and don’t really make their trip their own. They show up to a city and have the walking route set for each place they are going to visit and even have their tickets pre-booked. ‌
And then there is a pilgrim. A pilgrim allows their heart to be changed by an experience by diving headfirst. They open their minds to new cultures and customs. They may stray from the typical plan of a tourist and find something off the beaten path. Or they may take the beaten path and put their own spin on it. So how does a student become a pilgrim? They allow themselves to be open to new experiences. If they're approaching something that feels a little out of their comfort zone, they lean in to that discomfort, and the rewards they reap are great. 
At JFRC, our students have an incredible opportunity to really settle themselves into Rome as opposed to visiting for a few days. For a full semester, they have the ability to take on new experiences, but also have the space to take a step back every now and then and reflect on their experiences to see where they're growing. To understand what they're are learning about themselves. They have the time to become a pilgrim and have their experiences change them. They have the resources to allow their hearts to be changed, because they can immerse themselves in the transformative experience that is studying abroad!  
"Are you a Tourist or a Pilgrim" written by Elly Hahn

JFRC pilots new Leadership Certificate Program

This semester, with the help of our Director Emilio Iodice and Student Life, The John Felice Rome Center launched a new initiative that is unique to most study aboard experiences in Europe.   We are honored to have the Spring 2015 class as the first to participate in the JFRC International Leadership Certificate Program; mirrored off of the Leadership Certificate Program at Loyola University Chicago and designed with the unique experiences of Rome.

Under the guidance of Emilio, Associate Dean of Students Cindy Bomben, Director of Residence Life and Student Services Alvin Mangosing, and Student Life Assistant Jessica Kuh, students were asked to participate in various Key JFRC Leadership Experiences which included: enrollment in Emilio’s Leadership Course; membership in Student Activities Committee; participation in Calcio League; membership in a Christian Life Community; attendance in the World War Two Weekend Study Trip; participation in off-campus service opportunities and attendance at various lectures throughout the semester. The goal of the certificate program is to not only continue to recognize the positive impacts of these young global leaders already here at the JFRC, but to also give them the opportunity to synthesize and share these experiences with the rest of the community.  

The certificate program culminated with a 3-minute presentation given by each student in front of staff and faculty in which the student demonstrated what leadership abroad has meant to them.  These students chose to add an additional dimension of global learning to their study abroad experience by engaging with Rome on diverse levels through service and socio-cultural conversations. 

With over 35 students who have completed the Leadership Certificate requirements, the John Felice Rome Center is proud to announce that these students are the inaugural International Leadership Certificate recipients! This is a legacy that will be carried on throughout the years and the community here at the John Felice Rome Center is passionate about fostering leadership amongst its’ students for semesters to come.

Congratulazioni ragazzi!


WWII Weekend

WWII Weekend

Students lowering the colours at the Sicily-Rome American Cemetery

This past weekend was time, once again, for the World War II study trip which occurs once a semester.  This is a two-day trip where the students get a glimpse of the role that Italy played during WWII. 

The trip was primarily funded, planned, and led by two distinguished JFRC alumni – historian Phil O’Connor, PhD, and former West Point instructor Jim Centner, accompanied the JFRC’s Professor of Modern History, Anne Wingenter.  Students visited several historically significant sites in World War II Italy, including visits to Anzio and Nettuno, and areas of Rome not seen by the average tourist.

On the first day, students visited Anzio and Nettuno where they saw the US Military Cemetery and sought to understand what young American men and women did during the Italian Invasion. At the cemetery the students laid flowers on a Loyola Student's grave, as well as helped lower the colors. This first day gave a solid summary of what the fighting was like in the Mediterranean, concluding with a trip to the interactive and comprehensive War museum, Piana delle Orme.

On the second day in Rome, students learned about the impact that the War had on its citizens including the Massacre at Fosse Ardeatine, the Gestapo Headquarters at Via Tasso, and the part that the Roman Resistance played in attacking the Nazis at Via Rasella.  The Fosse Ardeatine provided perhaps the most powerful insight into the horrors of the War in Italy as the site is comprised of caves just outside the city where 335 Roman civilians were executed by the Nazis as a reprisal for the Partisan attacks on Via Rasella.

This trip is meant to educate and remind students of the atrocities of War, giving them inspiration to apply this education in a world where social justice and the implementation of human rights policies are especially important.


Interreligious Week

Interreligious Week

On the week of March 23 – March 27, the JFRC community had the opportunity to celebrate the diversity of religions that compose the fabric of the world. On Monday, the Student Activities Committee facilitated our biannual silent auction, benefitting the Jesuit Refugee Services and Loyola University Chicago’s Relay for Life. Students, faculty, and staff alike donated a variety of goods and services, ranging from a fresh load of laundry to a private tour of the Vatican Gardens. However, the stakes were raised very high when Student Life Assistant, Mitch Catalano, offered to shave off his beard, and shave his head, if more than 1000€ were raised. Students rose to the occasion, and to close off the evening, Catalano shaved his head with an audience of eager students there to witness the momentous occasion, after more than 1000€ were gathered.

 Tuesday brought about a more serious discussion, centered on the role of women within different religions. At a panel discussion, named “Women in Religion”, women representing the Jewish, Catholic, Hindu, Muslim, and Buddhist faiths described the basic tenets of their religions, also indicating the distinct role of women within their respective beliefs. Panelists also addressed student questions concerning different stereotypes they faced, as well as different rituals and processes that distinguished children from adults. The night ended with an interreligious prayer service, facilitated by Campus Minister Fr. Al Anuszewski, in which scriptures and songs were shared that emphasized the importance of coexisting.

On Wednesday, March 25th, Professors Anne Wingenter and Zara Pogossian led forty JFRC students and staff to visit the Grand Mosque of Rome. The Grand Mosque of Rome, the largest mosque in Western Europe, represents religious harmony for the international community. The Mosque is equally beautiful in its interiors and exteriors. It represents an architectural meeting point of two different religions, and two different architectonic cultures as well. There, students and staff were taken throughout the grounds of the Mosque, inside and through the expansive and impressive library.

Thursday and Friday focused on the Jewish religion, beginning with the celebration of the traditional Passover Seder, facilitated by Dr. Janis Fine, professor of the School of Education for Loyola University Chicago. The Rome Center’s Sala Felice transformed from a conference room into a traditional Jewish seder setting, complete with place settings, candles, and traditional foods that marked the plight of the Jews into the Promised Land.  Friday’s tour of the Tempio Maggiore, Rome’s main synagogue, began with an in-depth look into the lives of the Jews in Rome since their initial settlement. The roar of the Tiber River set the stage for the story of how Jews settled and flourished in Rome. The tour of Rome’s Jewish History museum gave students insight on the transformation of Jewish culture in Rome, beginning from the original settlement to today.

Best of the Balkans

Best of the Balkans

Over the course of ten days in three different countries, JFRC students journeyed through the Balkans to learn about fundamental historical events, diplomatic relationships, and Balkan culture. This journey was as much one of self-discovery as it was discovering the culture and history, both ancient and modern, of these three countries. Beginning the journey in Serbia; seventeen students, Dr. Anne Wingenter (Assistant Professor of Modern History), and Chandni Patel (Student Life Assistant) were greeted by Belgrade’s best local expert, Jelena Zivkovic. Professor Zivkovic carried out historical tours throughout Belgrade and Novi Sad, lecturing on-site about Belgrade’s former status as the capital of the former Republic of Yugoslav and the formation of present day Serbia.

As an individual who lived through the communist era, Professor Zivkovic was able to share both a personal and historical account leading up to Serbia’s independence, inspiring students to develop a well-rounded impression about growing up in a communist state. Serbia is currently projected to join the European Union in year 2020. As part of the study trip, students met with U.S. Ambassador Michael Kirby to discuss American diplomatic initiatives to assist modern Serbia in attaining this goal. While in Belgrade, students also visited the Nikola Tesla Museum, the Yugoslav History Museum, and the Bajrakli Mosque – the only mosque in Belgrade.

Crossing over the border into the beautiful and snow-covered region of Bosnia-Herzegovina, students were immediately welcomed to the city of Sarajevo by a variety of impressions. In the catalyst city which sparked the First World War, students unknowingly stood in the exact location of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand before having one of the most grand and meat heavy meals of their lives. In Sarajevo, students were able to almost simultaneously touch and feel Catholicism, Orthodoxy, Judaism and Islam after visiting the Cathedral of Jesus’ Heart, Cathedral of the Nativity of the Theotokos, the Ashkenazi Synagogue and the Ferhadija Mosque – institutions that represent four of the most dominant religions in the world. Traveling towards the small town of Mostar, the journey stopped along the way to visit the quaint and magical Herzegovinian towns of Konjic, Pocitelj, and Blagaj, allowing students to rock climb, relax near waterfalls and embrace the genuine charm of each town.

The ten day journey ended on the sunny Dalmatian coast in Split, Croatia to allow students two days of independent adventure. Concluding in Split encouraged students to compare three very diverse countries in the Balkan region.


In the footsteps of Alexander

In the footsteps of Alexander

Our trip began in Greece following Alexander the Great and the Greek Gods atop Olympus. Our odyssey brought us to sites like Vergina, where Alexander’s father, Phillip II, is buried. We later made a pilgrimage to Phillipi, where St. Paul preached and, at one time, was imprisoned. Sites like these along with Dion and the old Macedonian capital of Pella demonstrated the grandeur and importance of the kingdom of Macedonia. So important that Alexander himself was deemed a demi God for his great military conquest. All the while we enjoyed the robust flavors of Greek cuisine in picturesque settings.

Students also had the opportunity to experience the bustle of metropolitan Thessaloniki, a modern day culture capital of Greece. Again, we were reminded of its historical importance to the region of Macedonia and its rich history from Byzantine to modern times. From Thessaloniki we set out to complete our Turkish crossing stopping first at the historic tobacco capital of Greece, Xanthi. Once at the border, two hours of custom controls kicked off our 6 hour journey from no man’s land to cosmopolitan Istanbul.

In Istanbul, the group reveled in the deep mysticism of the lone Islamic country in Europe. Visits to the Agia Sophia, Blue Mosque, and Topkapi palace demonstrated the beauty, lyricism, and prestige of the Ottoman empire. With the call to prayer guiding us throughout our visit, many in the group were moved in their hearts and minds. The trip concluded with two free days to explore the Grand Bazaar, Spice market, and enjoy the tranquility of ancient Ottoman baths. The trip was a lesson in history, religion, and self-realization. 


L'isola di Sicilia


Once again, students were able to take a break from studying for midterms by focusing on the beauty, culture, and history of the incredible island of Sicily. They began their journey in Palermo arriving by either an overnight ferry from Naples or by flying into the coastal airport. The first stop of the trip was in the city of Monreale. While there, students were able to experience the Cathedral of Monreale built by King William II, it is one of the greatest examples of Norman architecture in the world. That afternoon students continued to see the beauty of the Sicilian landscape from the bus, as the cliffs gave way to rolling hills of farmland. Following a rain shower, students viewed the Archaeological Park of Selinunte and were able to view 7 temples built in the 6th to 4th century BC. As the group headed out for Agrigento, they were greeted with a spectacular double rainbow. To cap the first day off students enjoyed a true Sicilian meal complete with an antipasto dish of 9 different foods, a first course of risotto with shrimp, and finishing with fish smothered with potatoes and lemon.

Saturday began with a visit to the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento. In order students saw the Temple of Juno, Concordia, Heracles, and the Olympian Jove. For lunch students devoured a typical Sicilian street food called Arancine. These are stuffed rice balls coated in breadcrumbs, filled with ragu, tomato sauce, mozzarella, and/or peas, then fried. The next stop focused the students on the romans; together the group explored the Roman Villa del Casale. This palace showcases countless mosaics on floors and walls in nearly every room of the villa. Students then continued our journey to our last stop of the weekend, Taormina.

On Sunday, the sunshine gave the impression that it was summertime. Taormina gave the students a wonderful opportunity to explore on their own and also become acquainted with a Greek Theater that has Mt. Etna as its backdrop. While at the airport in Catania, students did not want to leave. Some JFRC students were, in fact, the very last to board the plane specifically because they were content with being left in the beauty and wonder of Sicily. 


Connecting with the Jesuit Refugee Service

Connecting with the Jesuit Refugee Service

Photo Credit: Andy Ash/ Jesuit Refugee Service

Before becoming the International Communications Assistant for the JRS, Jacquelyn Pavilon worked as a corporate gaming mathematician at WMS Gaming, Inc., designing algorithms for casino gaming software. Out of college, the job seemed like one she couldn’t refuse, but she began feeling that she was doing more harm than good. Today, Jacquelyn now holds a position she actually applied twice for. She wanted to work in a large international organization, and followed the JRS position all the way to Rome.

Ethnically half Italian, Jacquelyn is enjoying getting in touch with her Italian roots, but her real focus is her work. Founded in 1980 by Fr General Arrupe, the Jesuit Refugee Service operates in 50 countries worldwide serving, accompanying, and advocating for refugees. The JRS “serves the most vulnerable people. I like that every day I know I'm doing something good for the world,” she says. In addition to writing and editing articles for her position, Jacquelyn also administers the social media, assists with event planning, translates, and manages the JRS website in four languages. “The job can of course be overwhelming and draining, but at the end of the day, I know that what I am doing is making a difference in people's lives. I know that I am helping people who have nothing, and I go to bed exhausted, yet fulfilled. My efforts don't have monetary or self-interested rewards, but human ones.”

To say that Jacquelyn loves her job is an understatement. “When I was a student at the JFRC, I volunteered at the Joel Nafuma Refugee Center, and I found myself there.” What began as a volunteer opportunity has become a career path for this JFRC alum. Students at the JFRC have a truly unique opportunity to broaden their horizons and immerse themselves in another culture. Jacquelyn has found her passion in life, and hopes that JFRC students can find theirs too.

The JRS is an incredible organization, and Jacquelyn is a great resource. We encourage students to reach out and get involved in JRS events and initiatives that are happening on and off campus!

For more information about how you can get involved with the Jesuit Refugee Service during your time abroad at the JFRC email jacquelyn.pavilon@jrs.net



Today We Remember Our Founder John Felice

Today We Remember Our Founder John Felice

John P. Felice, founder and director emeritus of the John Felice Rome Center of Loyola University Chicago, was an educator famed for his remarkable leadership skills, diplomacy, collaborations and his warm, charitable, and untiring personality. 

 While serving in the British Armed Forces during World War II, Felice was deeply affected by the devastation he saw during the war. He determined that he would dedicate his life’s work to bridging cultural gaps and fostering education and tolerance. 

 After the war, Felice was received as a member of the Society of Jesus and was ordained to the Priesthood in 1957, where he remained active for over 15 years. He then accepted an assistant professorship of theology at Loyola University Chicago in 1959.  

 While teaching a summer program in 1961, Felice was invited to lunch with Italian President Giovanni Gronchi and American diplomat Clare Booth LuceLuce opined that both Italy and America needed a large, permanent study-abroad program anchored in Rome. Wanting to seize the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, Felice asked Gronchi if the Italian government could help start such a program. 

 In January 1962, the Loyola University Rome Center of Liberal Arts began with three faculty members and 92 students. Felice’s connections to people in power were a great asset during those founding years. He arranged outstanding opportunities for students, such as meeting the pope, cocktails with the president of Italy in his palace, and academic convocations with cardinals and ambassadors. 

 Throughout his tenure, Felice was well known for taking students on international excursions to expose them to other religions and cultures as a way of strengthening understanding and empathy between people. As early as 1963, students at the center were embarking on school-sponsored tours of the Middle East. 

 In 1973, Felice transitioned roles and began serving as the Rome Center’s dean of students. Felice continued as the dean of students and in various capacities until 1992, when, rather than retiring as planned, he was reappointed as the Rome Center’s director. Serving as director for another six years, he finally retired in 1998. During his retirement, he remained an active steward of the center until his passing in 2008. 

In 2004, Loyola President Michael J. Garanzini, S.J., recognized Felice’s commitment to the center, which Felice had nurtured for so many years, by rechristening it the John Felice Rome Center. In 2006, Loyola presented Felice with the “Heart of Loyola” award to honor his extraordinary generosity and lifelong commitment to Jesuit education. 


Looking back on the life of John Felice 

1941-1945 - Served in the British 8th Army in the Siege of Malta and Invasion of Italy. 

1946 - Received as a member of the Society of Jesus. 

1957 - Ordained to the priesthood. 

1959 - Appointed assistant professor of theology at Loyola University Chicago. 

1961 - Met with the president of Italy; proposed the idea of the Rome Center. 

1962 - Loyola University Rome Center begins; the class travels to Italy by ship. 

1965 - Presented with one of Italy's highest awards, the Medaglio d'Oro; became a US citizen and received the US citizen of the year award. 

1972 - Honored with the Knighthood of the Republic Medal. 

1973 - Appointed dean of students at the Rome Center 

1992 - Re-appointed director of the Rome Center. 

2004 - Loyola President Michael J. Garanzini, S.J., names the center in his honor, as John Felice Rome Center. 

2006 - Presented with the Heart of Loyola award.


To read more about the life of John Felice visit www.luc.edu/jfrcalumni/johnfelice 

Campania Orientation Trip Spring 2015

Campania Orientation Trip


During the weekend of January 25th the JFRC trekked to the region of Campania. 233 students and 14 staff members loaded 5 buses at dawn to pass by a cloud covered Mt. Vesuvius. Soon after passing by Vesuvius, Poseidon greeted us with a wet welcome at Paestum. The students frolicked in the mud while discovering ancient Greek history in Magna Grecia. The night closed with a community dinner in Vietri sul Mare with a spectacular view of the dark Tyrrhenian seaside.

The sunrise over the seaside was a picturesque wake up call for the students to begin their second day. The five buses split into two groups. One caravan arrived at a bufala mozzarella farm where the group witnessed the highest quality care of buffalo resulting in the highest quality mozzarella, gelato, and cappucini. The other caravan dove into Campanian viticulture at a local Agricola specializing in Aglianico and Ferano grape varietals. The groups switched, buses were reloaded, and all returned for a spectacular dinner performance by local Napoletani folk musicians.

The final day, the group gathered their belongings and made the pilgrimage to the abbey at Montecassino. They learned about the life of St. Benedict and his sister St. Scholastica. They were also told of the bombing of the abbey during WWII and its reconstruction by the Italian government. After taking a group photo of each bus group, the JFRC community departed down the winding road back to Rome. 


Settling into Spring

Settling into Spring

As the first day of classes begin, 235 students (the largest group the John Felice Rome Center has housed in many years) have started to settle into the routine of life abroad. This past weekend gave the students the opportunity to visit the Colosseum and the Forum, as well as the chance to explore Tuscia, a nearby area outside of Rome. Classes have just begun but students, staff, and faculty are already looking forward to the Orientation Trip to the region of Campania this next weekend. The entire student body will spend three days traveling together, visiting historical sites, eating great food, and growing as a community. While the last five days have been full of activities and meetings, they have provided students only an idea as to what their life here will be like; a truly unique and fulfilling study-abroad experience. 


Student Spotlight: Spending Turkey Day in Turkey

Student Spotlight: Spending Turkey Day in Turkey

“When I arrived in Rome a little over three months ago, I had no concept of where the semester would take me, but I really had no idea it would take me to Istanbul, Turkey, with twenty-two other students, two SLAs, and one of coolest people ever – Father Bohr.  I couldn’t have known how amazing an experience it would be at the time.  Still, I signed up for the trip knowing I wanted to experience a culture that was unlike any I had in the past, and Istanbul definitely delivered on that front.

    In Istanbul, the culture just kind of bumps into you everywhere you walk. Going into the trip, I had an idea of some of the sights we would see and the places we would go – the Grand Bazaar, the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sofia, the Asia side of Istanbul, a dinner cruise on the Bosphorus, and other pieces of our itinerary.  What I didn’t expect were the smaller moments – conversations with the students and faculty of Istanbul University, wandering with friends into a small coffee shop down a back alley, learning a few words of the beautiful Turkish language, a quiet early morning in a local mosque, and sharing tea with a man at a lamp shop in the bazaar.  This was clearly a culture of hospitality, and I felt it in nearly every interaction during my time there.

    All of these were amazing experiences, but I must say the most meaningful came to me on my last evening in Istanbul in the form of a small conversation with Father Bohr.  Throughout our stay, we had the opportunity to learn more about Islam, a religion I have come to know as beautiful and admirable for its dedication. Abdil, one of our guides, explained the five pillars of Islam, the five main obligations that one observes if able to. In brief, they are acknowledging God as the one true God, pray five times daily, alms giving, observing Ramadan, and a pilgrimage to Mecca.  At the end of our evening on the Bosphorus, Father Bohr and I stood on the deck of the boat chatting, and as we did, he brought up this question: What are my five pillars? If I were to choose five for my own faith, what would they be? It was a fantastic question and one that held a lot of weight for me. I did not have an answer. And while I still do not yet have the answer, it is a question I will carry with me until I find it. Istanbul taught me a great deal about myself and about my own faith, but I do not think the lessons ended there. I will continue to grow from my experience in Istanbul for a very long time.”


Claire Soupene, Class of '16


Student Philosophy Conference

Student Philosophy Conference

Identity and Values was the topic of this third edition of our wonderful Philosophy Conference. Students and scholars met in Sala Chandler and presented all the daylong papers related to the topic of values. The JFRC campus host scholars coming from U.S. and Europe. Susi Ferrarello promoted and organized the conference with the help of Stefano Giachetti. Yet, as every year the real protagonists of this event were our amazing and brave students!

Hunger Week

JFRC students and faculty participated in Hunger Week, throughout the week of November 17-21. This Loyola tradition dates back more than 40 years, and has made its way to Rome. This week is dedicated to a student effort to provide for the world’s most vulnerable populations. All week long, the JFRC community came together to raise money for the Jesuit Refugee Services, a nonprofit organization that provides aid to refugees all around the world. The week’s highlight, the silent auction, allowed students and administration to get creative and donate goods or services that others could bid on. At the end of the week, the JFRC community was able to donate over €400 to the Jesuit Refugee Services. ​


Women in Leadership Panel

Women in Leadership Panel

On Wednesday, November 19th, Student Life Assistants Jessica and Anna hosted a panel featuring prominent female leaders at the JFRC. The panel was composed of Dean of Faculty Dr. Susana Cavallo, Associate Director Marilyn Vitale, Associate Dean of Students Cynthia Bomben and Professor and author Elizabeth Geoghegan. Each of the women had an opportunity to describe their leadership journey and also give advice to the students in attendance. The students walked away with a better understanding of these JFRC leading ladies, whom have acted as role models for JFRC students, both past and future. ​

Tastes of Toscana Fall 2014

Tastes of Toscana Fall 2014

Upon arriving in Tuscany, the group enjoyed a wine tasting at Tenuta Torciano Winery in San Gimignano, Italy. After the wine tasting, the group toured San Gimignano and tasted Italy’s best gelato! That evening, everyone headed to Montestigliano Agritourismo near Siena to get settled for the evening. The students and staff slept in villas around the property and were able to enjoy a traditional Tuscan dinner all together. Saturday morning the entire group headed to a pig farm to learn about the Cinta Senese pig, which is specific to the Tuscany region of Italy. The group was then treated to a lunch filled with various types of pork, and also had the chance to play with new born puppies and kittens! For the afternoon, the group explored Siena, and were able to visit the gorgeous Duomo, climb the main Torre and even eat a famous type of panini that are only found in Siena! That evening everyone enjoyed dinner at Montestligiano and sang the night away to Karaoke classics! Sunday was filled with food, fun and tours of the gorgeous villa and the grounds! Before heading back to Rome, the group stopped in Montereggioni, a small town that is mentioned in Dante’s Inferno, for a bit of reflection time. The drive back to Rome was a quiet one, with each and every person plotting ways to return to Tuscany at some point in their life! ​ 

Student Spotlight: My time here in Rome

           Courage. It’s something we all strive to possess; it’s something that not all of us have. However, without courage, I never would have applied to the John Felice Rome Center. Courage is something, I’m proud to say, my parents instilled in me. So, I made the decision to study abroad.

            I traded my small town for the city of Rome in August, not sure what to expect. I boarded a plane for only the third time in my life and traveled five thousand miles to a place I’d only ever seen in movies and read about in books. I traded familiarity for unfamiliarity. How glad I am that I did it. Stepping out of my comfort zone and coming to Rome, I was able to gain a new perspective on my own culture through the eyes of another. Rome offered newness and unfamiliarity and change. I didn’t come here in search of the best pizza in the world or an Italian boyfriend. I came here to really discover myself, and that is exactly what I have done.

            Never before would I have thought I’d be so comfortable discovering new things on my own. On any given day, wandering through the streets of Rome is quite liberating. I can visit any museum, monument, church, or ruins I’d like, and enjoy an aperitivo at a restaurant known only to locals. It’s during the times that I’m alone that I have realized how fortunate I am to be here – exploring a country my ancestors left behind a hundred years ago. Being here, speaking the language, eating the food, and drinking the wine of my ancestors, I have reconnected with the past. It all seems to have come full-circle, and I am incredibly grateful for this. In my wildest dreams, I never would have thought that I’d be traveling to other countries . Come Sunday night after a weekend of traveling outside Italy, I board the plane wishing to be back home already. That’s when it hits me – Rome is home. It’s the strangest thing realizing that this city is now my second home.

            Before coming to Rome, I dreamed of meeting new people and experiencing other cultures – that is exactly what the JFRC has offered. The small community at the JFRC is one that fuels students’ desires to travel, explore, dream, and discover. Each morning, I wake knowing that I will learn something new or maybe visit an emperor or two. This city offers an environment where we, as students, never stop learning. So, I can sit in history class and learn about Maximinus Thrax and Marcus Aurelius, and then I can walk into the Capitoline Museums and stand face-to-face with them. These emperors are no longer just names in history books when they’re standing right in front of me. History comes to life in this city where its ancient ruins are still a part of everyday life. History aside, the city itself is one that feeds growth and exploration. Every monument has a story and around each corner lies a new discovery. The pagans almost demand my respect when I stand beneath the Oculus of the Pantheon, and Constantine commands my attention when I stand before his Arch. Roughly two thousand years later, and these monuments are still a part of this great city. It’s absolutely incredible.

            Aside from this city being beyond what I ever imagined, the Rome Center campus is such a wonderful place to study. While it is a sort of “bubble” outside of the city center, it is not difficult to just step out of the gates and get to know the neighborhood. The faculty and staff do a wonderful job of facilitating this, as well. On-site classes and on-site projects force even the most unwilling students to get to know Rome better – and it is through this, that Rome becomes familiar. As I stated before, the campus itself feeds growth and discovery. Right from the beginning, faculty and staff make students feel welcomed and appreciated here. We are so fortunate to have such remarkable faculty and staff members. Having a conversation with a professor on any given topic, I feel heard. My words and thoughts matter to these professors. They propel us forward – toward something greater than just making “A”s on exams. The staff here has worked to help all students feel at home from the first week on campus – and this campus has become home for me, thanks to them. (Shout-out to Cindy Bomben for you being you.) 

            All I can truly say to those even considering study abroad is this: DO IT. Do not be afraid of the unknown. Do not be afraid to find a new you. Do not be afraid to step away from the comfort you have found in your scheduled day-to-day lives. Father Al, JFRC's Campus Minister, always says to me, “Coraggio, cara.” Courage, dear. In everything I do – I remember these words. Just have courage. Step away from the wi-fi. Step away from the comforts of home. Step away from expectations, rules, and regulations. Discover yourself in a new country with new people. Coraggio, cari. 


By Meghan Allen, Class of  ‘16



Student Spotlight: Panini Distribution

Rome-- On Friday, September 31, a group of the Loyola Rome Center students embarked on the weekly Panini Distribution, led by the one and only Pedro Guerrero. The Panini Distribution, held in Vatican City, consists of volunteers serving a variety of foods and beverages for those living a life of poverty in Rome. In order to fully give of yourself for those less fortunate, you must show care; and having a lack of care in your volunteer work beats the purpose of the action.

I’ve been involved in a variety of service projects, but the Panini Distribution had a special impact in my life. Not only did we get to serve the people of Rome, but we also had the privilege of interacting with them. Distributing food to those who are hungry and are in great need felt incredible, however, my interactions with a few of the people were a pure blessing, a blessing that was incomparable to many. There were two individuals in particular that significantly affected me. We spoke about Jesus and faith life in general; and while there were certain points they made that I disagreed with respectfully, there were other points, I was a firm believer in. The two men said how there were times where they felt they were not cared about by those with higher authority. This was an upsetting notion to hear, solely because I am a true advocate for equality and I feel that serving the poor is the greatest service one can give. The two men continuously expressed their love for Jesus Christ and how they believe that all a Catholic needs is to pray to Christ, and that He resides in all of our hearts. They did not believe that people should pray to anything or anyone other than Christ, which I found interesting.

The two men were inspiring and it felt great to supply them with a full dinner that night. There were many things that the two men and I did not see eye to eye on, but there was one thing we did agree on, and that was our love for Jesus Christ. They made me realize that all you truly need is Him, and material things are simply irrelevant to a happy life. I pray on their behalf and hope that they continue to have their relationship with Christ and to keep moving forward. I am excited to return to St. Peter’s to serve my new friends, and create many more relationships.


By Jeff Ackels 

Clean Up Balduina Fall 2014

Clean Up Balduina Fall 2014

Angeli delle foglie ed il fango- Angels of the leaves and mud 

JFRC Students partnered with local Balduina community group NoiX Roma to help clear the “stairs” on Via Licinio Calvo after a very tempestuous week of stormy Rome weather.  Members of Student Life staff including Assoc. Dean of Students Cindy Bomben and SLA Mitch Catalano lead students, rakes in hand, to clear the much trafficked stairs that link Via Lucilio and Via Prisciano.  Local residents and neighbors thanked the students for their hard work.  One elderly resident remarked how she no longer feared falling down the walkway now that the path was cleared. Both NoiXRoma and the JFRC are excited for future collaborative programs and hope to keep the spirit of service alive in the semesters and years to come.

Ultimate Umbria: Fall 2014 Orientation Weekend

Ultimate Umbria: Fall 2014 Edition

Beautiful Sagrantino grapes from Montefalco. An Umbrian classic

On Friday September 5th, all 157 John Felice Rome Center students, along with the Student Life Team, and various faculty, piled into three buses and took off for an Ultimate Umbria orientation weekend!  After a fun two-hour bus ride of sing-alongs and chants, half of the group arrived in Bevagna for tours of artisanal medieval shops, while the other half started the day at a winery in Montefalco. The groups in Bevagna got to visit a coinmaker, candlemaker, silkmaker, and papermaker. Students and staff got a hands-on experience in this tiny medieval town. The wine tasting experience was one all the students will remember—as this specific winery had a gorgeous scenic view. The students and staff toured the winery and gained insight into the wine making process, as well as being able to taste Sagrantino di Montefalco--a wine specific to the Umbrian region. Both groups met for lunch at the Spiritodivino Agriturismo for a delicious buffet lunch, compete with a dance party starring our very own Dean of Faculty, Susana Cavallo. After a hearty meal, the groups who had previously toured Bevagna visited the winery and vice versa. In the late evening everyone checked into the hotel for a few hours of relaxation before the Student Life staff, professors and faculty led the students in a Welcome Address and dinner!


Saturday got off to a great start with the whole JFRC community participating in walking tours of Spoleto, the town where everyone stayed for the weekend. The groups were able to visit Spoleto’s famous acquaduct and Duomo, and also managed to have free time to explore the city on their own afterward. The entire community then headed to Casco dell’Acqua Agriturismo for a delicious lunch. Students braved the sun and also had fun playing with the children of the Agriturismo owners. After lunch, the entire group took off for Foligno, where everyone had the afternoon and early evening for themselves. Fathers Al and Bohr led a gorgeous mass in Foligno’s Duomo and afterwards the students had the night to explore. Foligno natives were out and about that night, as they were in the middle of a medieval festival. Students got in on the action by enjoying typical Umbrian meals and dancing with locals in the main piazza. As the night drew to a close, students and Student Life Assistants enjoyed one last moment of fun before bed by riding a rollercoaster at a children’s amusement park!


On Sunday morning the JFRC community checked out of the hotel and headed to Spello, the last stop for the weekend. The entire community went on walking tours of the hilly town, and ultimately reconvened for lunch at Frantoio di Spello, an olive oil production plant and shop. Students dined amongst the olive trees and tasted some of the company’s very own oil. Many students purchased oil or goods made with olive oil to bring home to their families. A group of students and staff made their way to Spello’s acquaduct, while others lounged in the shade of the olive trees. In the late afternoon the entire community piled onto the buses and made their way back to Rome. By 7:30pm everyone was back at the Rome Center safe and sound. It was an enjoyable weekend; one that students and staff alike will remember for the rest of their lives!


Student Philosophy Conference

Student Philosophy Conference

Identity & Values

Friday, Nov. 21, 2014, 10:30-17:00 in Sala Chandler

The Student Philosophy Conference is entering its third year at the Rome Center. This year it will be on Identity and Values and will host scholars coming from the U.S. and Europe. Yet, as usual, the real protagonists of this event will be our amazing students!


Dr. Marta Ubiali, Malique Moore, Robert Ganzer, Alejandra Jimenez, Dr. Mario de Caro, Andrea Celleri, Dr. Giuseppe Feola, Spencer Selden, Harry Runzel, Aaron Kinskey, Dr. Hugh Miller, Jacob Miller, Greer Johnston, Dr. Peter Reynaert, Evan Peterson, and Katey Lantto.  


Alumni Aperitivo in Honor of Dr. Susana Cavallo

Alumni Aperitivo in Honor of Dr. Susana Cavallo

‌Alumni Aperitivo
Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2014, 6 pm - 8pm
Pere Marquette, 26 E. Pearson, Chicago, IL 60611

Join us for a special opportunity to gather with fellow JFRC alumni and hear from JFRC Dean of Faculty, Dr. Susana Cavallo, who will share her memories, guiding principles, and unique perspective in leading the JFRC to where it is today.

She will also talk of the important initiatives she will see through to completion, as she supports the transition to the next academic director of the JFRC, Dr. Alexander Evers.

We look forward to seeing you for this special event, enjoying a prosecco tasting, catching up with fellow JFRC alumni, and hearing from the one and only Dr. Susana Cavallo.

Cost to attend is $35, which includes an open bar of premium wine and beer, a tasting of Proseccos, hors d’oeuvres, and a $5 donation to the John Felice Rome Center.

Student Spotlight: Fall Break in Poland


Before I arrived in Rome, before I had even heard what other study trips were being offered for the Fall 2014 semester, I had already set my heart on the Poland study trip. A year ago, my best friend of 17 years had been a part of this excursion and she had urged me to go, claiming it was the best trip JFRC offered and that “everyone who didn’t go was jealous.” I was sold.
October tenth finally arrived, and we Ryanaired our way to a tiny airport an hour outside of the city center of Warsaw. Going into the city by bus opened my eyes to suburban and rural areas of Poland, which, oddly enough, reminded me of my home in Chicago.

Warsaw was an autumn wonderland: red, orange, and yellow leaves spiraling down from tall trees, fountains bubbling in the misty morning air, and plenty of parks to enjoy these fall spectacles in. Our tour guide, a self-proclaimed patriot named Adrian who was kind enough to give us the tours for free and also herd us on and off public transportation, led us around the city showing us where the uprising had occurred and where the Jewish ghetto once stood during the horrors of World War II.

Once our time in Warsaw was up, all 14 of us packed our things and crammed into tiny train compartments that fit eight people each. In these train cars, with our bags tucked neatly overhead, I found myself reflecting on the strength of our JFRC community. Sure, some of us were friends beforehand, but only two days into the trip and I was already feeling an incredible and unique bond with my travel companions, and that bond would only grow as the week went on.

Following a three-hour journey, we started our Torun experience with an incredibly moving documentary called “Ghosts of Rwanda” that would set the stage for the Human Rights and a Just Society Symposium and left me sobbing in a very cold movie theater.

The main event of Torun was held at Nicholas Copernicus University, we had the immense privilege of being a part of the symposium. There, Carl Wilkins, the only American to stay in Rwanda during the genocide, his wife Theresa, and a panel of other international lawyers shared their unique views on genocide and what has to be done to prevent it and the necessary steps that have to be taken in the attempts to fix a society that has gone through such terror.

That night, we had one of the best dinners of my life (just a huge skillet of meat, vegetables and pierogi, so many pierogi!) and attended a gathering with the Loyola alumni at a lovely Polish brewery where they serve gingerbread beer!
The next day we mentally prepared ourselves for an emotionally taxing day as we set out for Auschwitz. There is so much that could be said about this experience, but I think I can sum it up in one word: vital. I truly believe that it is vital for us as humans to travel to this place and see and learn about what the prisoners and the people who died there had to go through. It is important to keep the stories of these brave people alive so that we can ensure that something like the Holocaust never happens again. The most unusual thing about the camp, though, was its incredible beauty. Surrounding the barracks where people suffered and prayed for salvation are towering trees just now changing color with the season. All around, these beautiful leaves fall on the brick and dirt roads leading through camp as if the Earth itself was trying to apologize for what horrific things happened there. For the entirety of our journey through this solemn place, hardly a word was said.

Auschwitz was a truly transformative place. After delving into a place of true evil and horror, I was able to feel a stronger bond with those JFRC students who had chosen the same fall break trip as I had for many of the same reasons. It turns out more than just a small portion of the global population care about human rights, and this simple, small fact made me feel so much closer with not only my companions, but also the world.

From the beginning to the end I found that every bit of the study trip was infested with magic. I was able to experience a refreshingly beautiful and hopeful country with truly amazing people, and I hope JFRC continues to offer this absolutely life-changing trip for years to come. Thank you JFRC for providing your students with such a wonderful and transformative experience!


By Shanna Johnson, Class of '16

Ain't No Mountain High Enough: Cusano Mutri 2014

Cusano Mutri Fall 2014

Fresh funghi from the forested slopes of the Benevento region

Cusano Mutri: Fall 2014

From September 26-28th, 25 students found themselves discovering the beauty of mushrooms, Campania, and the essence of the Italian sagra. In its 12th installation, the Cusano Mutri study trip took students hiking through valleys in Civitella Licinio, cooking with local Cusanese chefs, scaling slopes at the Bocca della Selva, and touring the Paleolab of Pietraroja to discover the Cretaceous fossil history of the area. Students were lodged at the beautiful agriturismo La Calvarusio, located in the hills above Cusano Mutri. At 1000 meters high, students ate freshly baked cornetti from their host, Clementina, and built campfires by night for s’mores and community building. Throughout the weekend students ate lunches and dinners at Lo Svalgo, a local restaurant with a stand at the Sagra dei Funghi. Students were also able to interact with local academics like their guide for the entire weekend, Angelo Zollo, and their paleontological expert, Sergio Bravi who visited from the University of Naples Federico II. By the end of the trip, students were able to understand the beauty of a true Italian sagra, discover the importance of Campanian geology, and learn about the sacredness of each to the local community of Cusano Mutri.

Ostia Antica Fall 2014 Trip

Ostia Antica Study Trip

Professor Nicholson lectures inside of the ruins at Ostia Antica

On Saturday morning, September 20th, 29 students left the JFRC campus with Dr. Nicholson for a tour of ruins of Ostia Antica and the Catacombs of San Callixuts. They spent the morning touring various ruins in the ancient town of Ostia, which was the major port for ancient Rome. Dr. Nicholson explained a bit of Roman history to the students as they explored the remnants of apartment buildings and bathhouses. The group stopped for a picnic lunch on the steps of the ancient theater, which Dr. Nicholson explained is still used for concerts and plays during the summer months. After lunch the students took some time to explore the site on their own before heading to the Catacombs in the south of the city of Rome. The students followed a local expert through a small portion of the underground area which makes up the Catacomb of San Callixtus. There are over 30 miles of tunnels which were the burial place of Christians during the Roman Empire when Christians were not permitted to be buried within the city walls. After a day of exploring these two sites which are extremely important to Rome's history, the students returned to campus to continue enjoying their time in the Eternal City.

A look through the arrival of our Fall 2014 studenti!

Fall Orientatoin 2014

Students cool down after a warm day visiting the Colosseum

On September 27th, the Fall 2014 JFRC students arrived on campus and began their orientation week. The Student Life Team filled the next few days with information sessions and community building activities such as a Scavenger Hunt in the city of Rome and two group dinners in the neighborhood close to campus. The students also visited both the Roman Forum and the Colosseum after a lecture from Professor Alexander Evers. Classes started on that following Monday so the entire student body spent the Sunday before relaxing on the beach. Some played volleyball while others swam in the sea and bathed in the sun. After a whirlwind orientation, full of tons of information and even more fun, the students settled into their daily rhythm of attending classes and exploring Rome every chance they get. 

JFRC Students think globally and act locally by making a difference in their Roman backyard.

Clean Up Balduina Spring 2014

JFRC LUC junior Melaney Dunne and SLA Mitch Catalano repaint the swings at the local children's playground off the 990 bus route.

For four years now, JFRC Students have joined forces with local Balduina neighborhood community groups NoixRoma and Casali di Santo Spirito to help clean-up parks, piazzas and playgrounds around campus.  The idea to help out the local Balduina neighborhood was sparked by Rome Center Alum Dr. Mark Nathan whose donation translated into a legacy where each semester a group of dedicated students get out into the parks of Rome and give back, pulling one weed at a time.

This past Saturday, a group of students joined Cindy Bomben, Alvin Mangosing and SLA Mitch Catalano in cleaning up the children’s playground located off the 990 bus route.  Not only did students clear the park grounds of rubbish, they also put some fresh coats of stain and paint on the swings, slides and play sets.   

Below, Luke Dahlgren, LUC senior, puts a fresh coat of stain on the children's play house at Parco Proba Petronia.

Clean Up Balduina 2

Student Organic Garden – Winter Vegetable Harvest & Spring Planting

Student Organic Garden – Winter Vegetable Harvest & Spring Planting

Fresh piselli from the harvest!

Spring 2014 Students, led by Melaney Dunne, Sam Crowley, Tom Dyke and with the support of SLAs Mitch, Jenny and the Student Life team, resurrected the Student Organic Garden over these past weeks to celebrate Earth month and most importantly to demonstrate JFRC student commitment to sustainable initiatives.  The Spring 2012 class decided to leave behind a green legacy: a sustainable organic garden, which over the semesters, has suffered from extreme weather.  This semester’s dedicated students have breathed some life back into this garden.  It continues to be a campus-wide effort with special support from our gardeners and facilities staff lending a much needed hand and special grazie to Mensa for agreeing to prepare and cook the winter vegetables.  These delicious greens were featured during Friday lunch services for all to enjoy.

Stay tuned for more updates this summer on the JFRC Student Organic Garden initiative!

JFRC e` ecosostenibile!

Garden Group 2014

UIC Professor Gloria Nardini visits the JFRC

Guest Lecturer: Gloria Nardini

Professor Nardini describes the lives of Italo-American to JFRC students

On 18 March, 2014, UIC professor of communications and Italo-American ethnographer, Gloria Nardini conducted a reading and critical examination of her two books, Che Bella Figura! and Italian Women in Chicago. Students were taken on a journey from the Northside of Chicago to Italian citizenship, from immigrant experiences to feelings of true belonging. Bicultural and bilingual, Dr. Nardini exemplifies what she calls “transnationalism”—a relatively new phenomenon in an increasingly connected globe.

JFRC Students Serving Rome’s Homeless and Sick Children

Servizio in Azione

Student volunteers at Friday night meal distribution in San Pietro

At least 55 students came out to the first Friday night meal distribution of the semester on February 7 where JFRC joined forces with Noi per Roma and Opera Divin Redentore to serve meals and sandwiches to Rome’s homeless at Ostiense train station and Piazza San Pietro.   Students will continue these panini distributions throughout the semester on the following Fridays: February 28, March 21, March 28 and April 11.

Another service opportunity has blossomed with the Ronald McDonald Foundation House here in Rome this spring.  Along with Associate Dean of Students, Cindy Bomben, students visit Casa Ronald- Palidoro Tuesday afternoons serving as volunteers and spending time with terminally ill children and their families creating crafts for Valentine’s Day and Carnevale.   

LUC Sophomores Amy Fantozzi, Elizabeth Mc Quillan, and other students of their sorority brought the idea about connecting with Casa Ronald to Cindy early on in the semester.  The JFRC intends to continue service collaboration on a more regular basis.

Tania Velazquez, LUC junior, took away so much from just one service visit: “I am extremely grateful to have had the opportunity of sharing some moments of joy with the families of Casa Ronald… I was glad to incite happiness in the lives of these children with our creation of Carnival masks. It truly was a lovely experience, being able to bring smiles to their faces.” 

Aiutando ad aiutare, a helping spirit, is what also defines JFRC student experiences.   

Service in Action Spring 2014

A Night of Theatre in the Eternal City

Dancing at Lughnasa

On Thursday evening, February 6th, SLA Tim and student Michael Reppen organized an outing to a local theatre to see an English-language production of Dancing at Lughnasa, the award-winning play by Irish playwright Brian Friel. The play takes place in the fictional town of Ballybeg in the year 1936, as the Mundy sisters face their own poverty and family tensions. The twelve students who attended (and SLA Chandni!) noted the play's unique staging elements and enjoyed that a Roman theatre company of English speakers exists.

After the performance, SLA Tim and most of the students went to get kebabs and even stopped at a local bakery to grab some treats. The evening proved itself to be a lovely experience as students further advanced their navigation abilities of the bus system, interacted with the performing arts, and found some new places for delicious eats.

Fall 2013 Study Trips Well Under Way!


Group Photo #2


This semester has been moving forward quickly for the students and staff at the JFRC. Having just passed the mid-point of the semester, the Student Life team has successfully led five different study trips which students were able to attend. Beginning the semester was an adventure to the small Campanian village of Cusano Mutri to celebrate the "Sagra dei funghi," or mushroom festival, with local community members. Shortly after that, many students attended a day trip to the ancient port city of Ostia Antica to explore its ruins. 

As the excitement continued, the JFRC community quickly found itself enjoying Fall Break with many students going on the trips offered to Poland or Greece. Some students explored issues of social justice and human rights while enjoying Polish culture. Others followed a more antiquated path to Greece to discover its importance to the classical world and enjoy its fabulous cuisine and hospitality.

Most recently, students joined JFRC alumni Jim Centner and Phil O'Connor for an exploration into World War II history and the Italian resistance of the time. A semester tradition, the trip was a great success leaving many students in wonder of the war's impact.

The semester will continue with two more study trips to Tuscany and Northern Ireland, but for  more details about those that have already passed, visit the links below:


Cusano Mutri

Classical Greece

Ostia Antica





Northern Ireland



Under the Tuscan Sun

Under the Tuscan Sun

In a country known for its food, the region of Tuscany still stands alone. This is why Prof. Anne Wingenter, SLA Russell Gonzalez, and 26 students spent a weekend (April 12-14, 2013) in the heart of this picturesque countryside.

After an early departure from Rome Friday morning, the group of burgeoning gourmands arrived at the Tenuta Torciano winery where the charismatic owner immediately enchanted the students with the magic and history of wine culture. He started with proper etiquette for holding the glasses, smelling, tasting, and experiencing. The owner claimed that he needed to “reteach [us] how to use the senses”, and did he. As the group sampled 10 different wines, he asked the group to try each one with meat, cheese, salad, homemade ribollita, and lasagna. Everyone came away full and satisfied. The next stop was San Gimignano where Prof. Wingenter shared her favorite corners in the city center. After a (light) gelato in one of the central piazzas, the group ventured through the valley to Montestigliano, the family-owned, hilltop villa that has hosted the JFRC for many years. Housed in gorgeous buildings, the earliest of which was built in 1705, the students enjoyed the olive grove, magnificent views, and (you guessed it) old-fashioned Tuscan food.

The next day started leisurely with breakfast in the old granary. The group then made its way to a farm of the recently recovered cinta senese pigs. The breeder’s explanation spanned thousands of years of history and demonstrated a great deal of passion for his swine companions. He explained that it’s the fatty content of this species’ meat that makes them notable and delicious. He then took everyone over to his house where they sampled 5 different cuts of meat from this breed, all of which were fabulous in their own way. The group then made its way to Siena and tranquilly traversed the city, even seeing St. Catherine of Siena’s head along the way!

Sunday started with an olive oil tasting in which students and staff learned what the major defects are in commercial oils and sampled good and bad oils side-by-side. A bruschettata followed, which in turn was followed by lunch. After some memorable good-byes to friends (both human and animal) at the villa, the JFRC contingent, satisfied, drove back to Rome, all the while dreaming of the day they will return to that house on the hill.

Ignatian Spain Pilgrimage

Ignatian Spain Pilgrimage

On the morning of February 15, 2013, nine students, Fr. Ted Bohr, S.J., and SLA Russell Gonzalez convened in front of the Basilica of the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain and under the spires of Gaudi’s masterpiece, the inaugural Ignatian pilgrimage to Catalonia began.

After a morning exploring Gaudi’s Gothic fairytale, the pilgrims had an organic lunch at Els Pollos de Llull, a restaurant that emphasizes sustainability and flavor. With full bellies and hungry hearts, the group completed a walking retreat, visiting the sites of St. Ignatius’ life during his short but meaningful stay in Barcelona. Highlights included a medieval gateway and the house where St. Ignatius sojourned with Ines Pascual. To rejuvenate their tired bodies, the pilgrims made a quick pit stop at the Museu de la Xocolata to grab a luxurious hot chocolate snack! After a short bit of free time, the group reconvened for a tapas dinner at a neighborhood staple and called it a night.

Early the next morning, the pilgrims set off from Barcelona to the Benedictine monastery at Montserrat. The cable car up the mountain gave the group a stunning view of the mountain range and the valley below. Once they arrived at the monastery, they heard a bit of the Mass in Catalan and had a quiet moment with La Moreneta, a wooden statue of a black Madonna. Later in the day, the group ascended the remainder of the mountain in a funicular to look out from the top. The group separated and met later for an excellent tapas dinner.

On the final morning, the pilgrims attended Mass at the Cathedral of Barcelona, which is dedicated to Santa Eulalia (a patroness of the city). The Mass was in Catalan, but Fr. Bohr graciously provided the group with the readings in English. They recapped their journey, both spiritual and cultural, and said fond farewells, at least until they got back to dinner mensa that night!

Serbia and Bosnia

Serbia and Bosnia

Sixteen students, two Student Life Assistants and Professor Anne Wingenter spent Spring Break in Serbia and Bosnia. 

The trip began in Belgrade, the capital of Serbia, a poor city with rich culture and an undying energy. A visit was made to the Nikola Tesla Museum, which houses working replicas of the great Serbian inventor. Tesla is a source of pride to Serbs, not only for his scientific innovations to electricity, but also for his revolutionary social ideas on how to share it. That evening the group dined at Kafana, the oldest tavern in the city and a preserved memory of Ottoman life. Students got their first taste of Rakija - Serbian plum brandy - cabbage salad, grilled meats, and Turkish baklava.

The next morning, after a late night exploring Belgrade's nighttime vibrancy, we awoke for an historic tour of Belgrade, given by the dynamic Jelena Zivkovic, teacher and Belgrade native who was the group's connection to the city.  Students learned about Serbia's precarious position between the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman empires, the fascinating and complex history of the Yugoslav state, its disintegration, and the reality of contemporary Serbian society.  Students then had the afternoon free to explore the city before a group dinner in Skadarlija, Belgrade's bohemian quarter, where traditional dishes were enjoyed to the rhythm of live Serbian music.  After dinner Jelena showed her cosmopolitan side, taking students to the best places to have a drink and a dance.

On Sunday morning the group boarded private mini-buses and embarked on a long but scenic drive through the Balkan Mountains to Sarajevo, capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina.  We arrived and checked into our apartments, amazed.  On one side, our building straddled Baščaršija, the Ottoman quarter, giving us an unrivaled view of Sarajevo's spires and minarets, the sea of red-tiled roofs and green domes that blanket the valley.  On the other side was the Miljacka river and the Latin Bridge, where Austro-Hungarian prince Franz Ferdinand was shot by Bosnian Serb nationalist Gavrilo Princep, sparking World War I.

The group was met by Skender, our guide not only to Sarajevo but to Bosnia, and our intermediary for experiencing the reality of war.  We began with an historic tour of Sarajevo.  We learned of the city's medieval Ottoman origins, its religious diversity (Sarajevo is known as the "Jerusalem of Europe"), the period of Austro-Hungarian rule, the outbreak of WWI, and Sarajevo's role within the Yugoslav state.  Of course, even a tour of Sarajevo's distant history cannot ignore the remnants of the recent 1990s war, and the group was silent as they stood over a "Sarajevo Rose" - a mortar crater filled with red resin to commemorate the person (or people) killed by the blast. 

On Monday we traveled away from Sarajevo's continental climate, its brisk winds and snow-covered mountains, to Herzegovina, Bosnia's Mediterranean side.  First stop was Počitelj, a medieval Ottoman town perched on a steep hill above the stunning Neretva River that served as defense against Venetian and other maritime advancements.  Skender provided some history and students were free to wander around the fortified town.  It was hot and it was spring-like: butterflies and bees enjoyed the budding flowers and we all took off our layers that had protected us in Sarajevo.  We sat in the cool air of a 16th century mosque and listened to Skender as he explained the philosophy of Muslim prayer and the significance of the mosque's structural and artistic features. 

We departed Počitelj and went to Blagaj, where we ate fresh trout while sitting outside, just above the raging waters of Europe's largest karstic spring, where water shoots out of an immense cavern at the base of a high vertical cliff.  Beside the spring sits a 16th century Dervish monastery, or tekija, where, after lunch, students experienced the tranquil coexistence of the natural and the man-made, a fundamental component of the Muslim Sufi tradition.."

After lunch the group continued on to Mostar, another medieval Ottoman town, famous for its bridge--Stari Most--and its importance as a front-line during the 1990s war.  Besieged by Christian Croat forces, Mostar was flattened, its Muslim inhabitants ethnically cleansed.  Students wandered the quiet streets, entranced by the juxtaposition of beauty and ugliness: the beauty of the Adhan, or Muslim call to prayer, floating through the charming town; the ugliness of war.  International money has rebuilt the historic center of Mostar but its outskirts remain the graveyards of skeleton buildings and bullet holes.  The group returned to Sarajevo for a free evening.

On Tuesday morning Skender gave us a tour of "Sarajevo under siege."  For four years, from 1991-1995, Serbian forces surrounded the city in what became the longest military siege of modern history.  Skender, who was 8 at the time, related his own personal anecdotes from the siege: three years spent in a basement, the struggle for food and for water, the loss of family members, the insanity of war.  We drove to the Sarajevo War Tunnel Museum.  During the siege the only break in the Serbian line was the UN-controlled airport, beyond which lay Bosnian territory.  Sarajevo needed a connection to that territory in order to feed its people and continue its resistance.  But the UN would not let them cross.  So, in an example of desperate human collaboration, they built a tunnel, nearly a kilometer long, which ran under the airport.  It is estimated that 20 million tons of food entered Sarajevo through the tunnel during the siege, and more than a million people passed in and out of the city.

After the museum we drove through 'Sniper Alley.'  This strip of land had to be crossed in order to get to the War Tunnel.  But wide streets and open spaces characterized the area, and it was visible from the hills, where Serbian snipers sat.  700 people were killed by sniper fire in just this one strip of land.  We then visited those hills and looked out over the city from the vantage point of the snipers, amidst the rubble of burned out buildings and abandoned military barracks.

After the tour we met with the American Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ambassador Moon, who explained the U.S.’ role in the country before answering the group's questions for more than an hour.  The students had the afternoon free before meeting at the city's oldest mosque at 8:00 pm, after the last prayer, for a meeting with the Imam.  The Imam spoke of inner peace and spiritual strength, the poetry of Rumi and the difficulties faced by religious people under communism.  After an hour of questions we parted ways, him to get some rest before morning prayers, us to dine at a restaurant in the hills, looking down over the lit city below.

On Wednesday the group returned to Belgrade, where we met with U.S. Embassy officials.  They spoke to us about U.S. interests in the region, the nature of contemporary Serbian politics, and the state of the Serbian economy.  We met up with Jelena, had our last group dinner at another traditional Kafana, and enjoyed one more night together in a Belgrade bar.  On Thursday the trip concluded with an optional group lunch and excursion to the Museum of Yugoslav History and the mausoleum of Yugoslav dictator Josip Broz Tito.

Northern Greece & Turkey Spring Break 2013 Study Trip

Northern Greece & Turkey Spring Break 2013 Study Trip

Immediately upon landing in the Athens airport, the group of 54 JFRC students and staff were escorted onto a travel bus by Dr. Ioanna Kopsiafti, DPhil, Art History, Oxford University, Professor and leader of this Spring Break trip.  Ioanna created and organized this trip with the assistant of her very dear friend Dr. Susanna Cavallo of the Rome Center.  Professor Alexander Evers of the JFRC also helped lead both the fall and spring break 10-day long trips, this time with the assistance of Student Life Assistant Gina Crovetti and special guest Jim Centner, a very loyal alumni who is on the Alumni Board and leads the WWII Italian Invasion 2-day excursion.  This group, which included 49 students, traveled through Greece and Turkey for the entirety of Spring Break , March 1-10, 2013. 


The first day, Friday March 1, was spent discovering the city of Athens with a walking tour done by Ioanna Kopsiafti.  Students enjoyed their first gyros and truly felt the hustle and bustle of this fervent metropolis.  As night fell, the group walked their way to the Acropolis museum where they wandered inside learning the history, maintenance, and wonders that are in the Acropolis that they would visit the next day.  After, the group walked to dinner, passing historic Athens sites by night and viewing the jewel-like Parthenon lit up and silhouetted against the night sky.  Dinner was at a local restaurant where they first sampled traditional Greek cuisine.  This dinner remains to be the favorite of the entire trip, full of excitement and adrenaline from beginning this trip.


The second day the group hiked up the Acropolis, visiting the Parthenon and soaking in the panoramic views atop Athens.  Here Ioanna gave historical lectures for the group and lead a walking tour of the site. The group saw the temple dedicated to the goddess Athena and the Erechthion with its famous Karyatids – alleged to be modeled on the most beautiful women in all of Greece.  Down the sacred way they followed in the footsteps of Plato and Socrates with lectures to the ancient agora.  After lunch the group departed for Thermopolis, watching the film 300 to get into the mindset of the Spartans themselves.  The group made a pit stop at the actual monument to King Leonidas where the brave 300 Spartans took their last stand against Xerxes thousands – a pivotal moment in history for western civilization.  After this the group checked in to their hotel and enjoyed dinner at a cozy tavern where there was live Greek music.  The entire group danced the night away, even trying their hand at traditional cup balancing.


Day three began with an excursion to the Holy Monastery of Grand Meteoron, which is the oldest and largest of the monasteries of Meteora built in the 14th century.  It is one of six monasteries located high up on huge sandstone rock pillars, which rise dramatically over the Thessalian plain.  The monastery offers a glimpse into 800 years of monastic life, architecture, rare icons, relics and manuscripts.  After lunch the group departed for Vergina where they saw the most important Macedonian artifacts in the world.  The site contains the impressive tomb of Philip II, father of Alexander the Great.  The day concluded with a visit to Mount Olympus (Greece’s highest peak at 2918m) and a stay at the grandest hotel they had ever visited, sitting right on the edge of the sea and at the base of Mt. Olympus.  Dinner was enjoyed in Ano Poli, a UNESCO World Heritage site, containing exquisite Greek and Ottoman architecture from the 19th century.


Day four included the journey to Thessalonica – Greece’s “second city”, which is the capital of the region of Macedonia, not only regarded as the entertainment capital of northern Greece but also the cultural capital of the country, containing 15 UNESCO world heritage sites.  The city’s strategic location on the mainland route from Europe to Asia made it a powerful city whose history has been celebrated for centuries.  The group trekked up to the Byzantine walls above the city, which included sweeping panoramic views out to the sea.  Then they visited a Byzantine museum along with several important churches in the city, including the largest church in Greece named after Thessalonica’s patron saint – Agios Dimitrios, a Roman soldier martyred around 303 on the site and the crypt with his relics below.  The evening began with a meeting at the White Tower on the café-lined waterfront promenade.  Then they took a stroll through the heart of the city’s Aristoleous Square and concluded with dinner in the lively Ladadika, a restored warehouse district.


The group’s last day in Greece included a visit to the ancient site of Philippi, which was established by the king of Macedon, Philip II at the foot of Mount Orbelos.  IT is also the historically noteworthy site where the Apostle Paul preached on European soil and baptized Lydia.  After exploring this ancient site, the group traveled to the seaside town of Kavala to see the Roman aqueducts called kamares, the Castle of Kavala built by the Byzantines, and the elegant Imaret which was an Islamic seminary school.  They group rested and enjoyed free time as the sun set over beautiful views from the port area.  After, they traveled to spend the night in Xanthi, a town located amphitheatrically at the foot of Rodopi mountain range. 


The sixth day of the Spring Break trip was devoted to crossing the border into Turkey.  By this point the group had driven from Athens by bus, through Northern Greece, and they were ready to make the final stretch into Istanbul.  They drove from Xanthi to Alexandroupoli before reaching their first visa control stop at the border.  Once all visas were purchased, they entered the second stop to clear all persons and items aboard the bus.  After several hours, the group was able to continue the 4.5hr journey to the city.  Istanbul is sometimes referred to as “the city” – name coming from the Greek – because fore centuries there was no other to which it could be compared.  After checking into the hotel located in the heart of Taksim square, the group enjoyed a walking tour of the Beyoglu and Galatasaray area and into Istiklal Street for dinner where they danced the night away with a live traditional Turkish band.


Straddling two continents – Europe and Asia, Istanbul (or Constantinople) can be defined by neither.  It is a city of endless historic and cultural layers ranging from Roman to Byzantine to Ottoman eras.  The seventh day was dedicated to visiting the Hippodrome built by Constantine the Great for horse races, the magnificent Byzantine church of Agia Sophia, and the so called Blue Mosque built across the way by Sultan Ahmet I to rival the Agia Sophia, and the Palace of Topkapi which was the primary residence of Ottoman Sultans and their harems for over 400 years.  In the evening the group dined at a Turkish restaurant with views of the Bosphorus, sampling some of the world famous ‘politiki’ cuisine of the city.


Friday March 8 the group took a day trip to the picturesque Princes’ islands 20k from Istanbul in the Sea of Marmara.  No cars are allowed on this island, allowing for an escape from the bustle of Istanbul’s population of 13 million.  The island boasts lovely gardens, wonderful mansions, and the Greek Monastery of St. George set between two giant hills.  Students had the opportunity to take a horse-drawn carriage, rent bicycles, or simply hike to some of the island’s peaks.  They returned late afternoon for an early dinner in the Orient Express train station, which was the end of the route in this bygone era.


The last day of the trip was spent first at the 17th cent. Spice Bazaar, one of Istanbul’s most colorful and bustling attractions.  Then they went to the amazing Grand Bazaar with its 4000 shops to peruse anything one might desire.  Students had the afternoon free to do last minute shopping or to enjoy a traditional hamam Turkish bath.  The farewell dinner included live belly dancing and music once again.  Istanbul was so enchanting that the idea of departing was met with great sorrow on the tenth and final day of travel, March 10, 2013. 


The JFRC would like to especially thank Dr. Ioanna Kopsiafti for her willingness to coordinate such an adventure and a truly perfect execution.


La Bellissima Sicilia

La Bellissima Sicilia

This Spring Semester 2013 study trip to the beautiful island of Sicilia took place over the weekend of February 22-24.  The group of 40 JFRC students were accompanied by Dr. Alexander Evers, a JFRC professor and classical historian, Student Life Assistant Gina Crovetti, and the Director of Residence Life and Student Services Dr. Michael Beazley and family.  The group ventured out of the Rome Center Thursday February 21 to board a train from Rome to Naples.  Once in Naples, the group walked to the dock to board an overnight ferry to Palermo, Sicily.  The ferry arrived Friday morning at 7:00 AM, with the sun rising and pink-blue skies waiting to begin the day.  Once aboard their coach bus the group began their full-day itinerary.  First they visited the Cathedral in Monreale, a short drive from Palermo.  Here the students gazed at gilded statues, high-reaching arches and mosaics that covered the interior of the church.  Next door they walked around the cloister to enjoy fresh air and picturesque columns lining the open garden.


From Monreale the group drove to Segesta, an archeological site dotted with temple ruins.  After a short shuttle up to the highest point in Segesta, Dr. Alexander Evers gave a short lesson in the open-air theater, with the Mediterranean Sea as a backdrop.   The rolling hills were bright green with large rocks and remnants of ancient times sprinkled throughout.  At the lower sites, the students had free time to walk around another well-preserved sandstone temple that stood amongst the trees and cacti.


Due to unforeseen circumstances and a collapsed bridge, the group drove straight through to Agrigento where they were to spend the night in a hotel and nearby B&B.  Dinner Friday at Trattoria Dei Templi served various courses all revolving around the Sicily’s freshest seafood.  The group started with roasted vegetables, arancioni (rice balls), and some fish specialties.  They then enjoyed a swordfish, eggplant, and tomato pasta made fresh to taste.  Finally they topped off their night with baked fish and potatoes and a large serving of homemade tiramisu.  If there was one thing to learn from dinner, it was that they would not go hungry while in Sicily.


The second day of the trip began with a short drive to the temple sites in Agrigento.  The sun was fully shining on the group as they reached to tops of the hills holding the temples.  Dr. Evers again explained to the group a short background on the ruins they were to see that day and the historical importance to Sicilian and Roman history.  Many of the temples and ruins the group visited were atop hills, showcasing the strategy of past peoples to build homes and towns as high as possible so as to always have a view of the sea and any possible invaders.


After much exploring and photo taking, the group departed from Agrigento for Taormina, with a stop at Piazza Armerina.  In Piazza Armerina the group was able to see the palace of mosaics that included room after room of decorated floors and walls, specifically highlighting the long corridors and the different depictions of people.  Each room had a different story and purpose, and with the renovated structure for tourists, the group was able to walk on raised paths and see each room from above.


The remaining drive to Taormina was after sunset and as the group approached Mt. Etna, Europe’s largest active volcano, they encountered the biggest surprise of the trip, a live view of Mt. Etna erupting.  Tuesday February 19 Mt. Etna began to erupt and had continued to each day.  The group could see her spouting lava on Saturday night from the bus and even caught a glimpse of some of it running down the side of the volcano.  This was truly an impressive sight and once in a lifetime opportunity.


After hotel check-in in Taormina, the group enjoyed an even grander dinner than Friday if possible.  At La Piazzetta, the group began with homemade large macaroni noodles served with a roasted eggplant and tomato sauce.  Then thinly sliced beef was rolled around potatoes and cheese and served with a light glaze as the second course.  For desert they enjoyed a classic homemade, layered chocolate dish with cream that was spotted with hazelnuts before being drizzled in chocolate.  But beyond the amazing cuisine, the group drank the remarkable Sicilian wine produced locally.  Never have food and drink joined together so harmoniously.


The final day of the trip began with a walk to the theater in Taormina, with an eclipsing view of Mt. Etna in the distance.  The sun was shining again, providing a view of the coast and sea to match the beauty of the ruin-filled theater. Dr. Evers gave a briefing on the theater and its surroundings, and then the group had free time to walk the streets of Taormina and enjoy lunch on their own.  After a slow afternoon the group departed for the Catania airport, catching different evening flights back to Rome and the JFRC.  What a sad departure it was to leave such a gorgeous island, and on Election Day in Italy nonetheless.


-Students walking from the Basilica di San Francesco


On Saturday, June 7 undergraduate students from the JFRC went on a day trip to Assisi in the region of Umbria.  Upon arrival, students were led on a guided tour of the Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi to learn about Saint Francis and the art that depicted his life.  The tour brought the students through Assisi to the main square, where they heard about the Church of Saint Mary over Minerva which was previously an ancient temple.  They were then able to take some free time to explore the town before lunch at a nearby city called Santa Maria degli Angeli.  After lunch, the students had time to walk around the town and visit the main church, a place where Saint Francis would often pray, perform miracles, and eventually died.  The trip was accompanied by warm weather with ample sunshine and was a valuable experience for everyone interested in learning about our current pope's namesake.


Santa Maria degli Angeli

-Santa Maria degli Angeli


50th Anniversary Mass & Banquet: Thursday, May 23, 2013, Rome

50th Anniversary Mass & Banquet: Thursday, May 23, 2013, Rome

Thursday, May 23rd marked the conclusion of the 50th anniversary commemoration of the John Felice Rome Center. Our 50th Anniversary celebration began with a special alumni event in our hometown of Chicago.  It was attended by hundreds of friends and family of the JFRC, whose lives were touched by our founder, John Felice.  We will conclude our celebratory year with a Mass dedicated to John Felice on Thursday, May 23rd at 6:45 PM at the Chiesa di Sant'Ignazio, Via della Caravita 8A in the centro storico of Rome. Mass will be followed by a banquet which will be attended by current students, faculty, staff, local alumni, and the members of the Loyola Rome Center Foundation. 


Visit the John Felice Rome Center Alumni site for more information about alumni events and Rome Center updates. 

Spring Semester 2013 Orientation

Spring Semester 2013 Orientation

The students and staff of the John Felice Rome Center headed south to the Amalfi Coast for the Spring Semester 2013 Orientation, escaping the bustle of Rome and enjoying the almost-unbeatable scenery of the Mediterranean. Friday began with an early departure from Rome to Herculaneum.  Herculaneum (Ercolano in Italian) was a wealthy ancient Roman town located in the Campania region in the shadow of Mt. Vesuvius, which in 79A.D. erupted and destroyed the town with its volcanic lava. It is not located far from Pompeii, which was destroyed by ash in the same eruption. The group, 215 in total, received a guided tour while walking around the scavi (excavations), entering the remains of buildings and walking the streets that have been uncovered over the years. After the visit, the group enjoyed lunch at an agriturismo (farm) with excellent tasting of famous Lacrime Cristi (tears of Christ) white wines made from grapes growing in the volcanic soil. With Mt. Vesuvius as their backdrop, they also enjoyed fresh pasta made with the special year-round tomatoes grown in the mountain soil that maintains a delicate balance of sweetness and acidity, slowly ripening on the vine for weeks. The group then headed to Sorrento, where they stayed overnight for the remainder of the weekend.

Friday night concluded with the Community Welcome, led by Dr. Michael Beazley, Director of Residence Life and Student Services, and included speeches by Cindy Bomben, Associate Dean of Students; Marilyn Vitale, Associate Director of Operations and Administration; Prof. Ted Bohr, SJ; Fr. Al Anuszewski, O.SS.T.,  Director of Campus Ministry; and Prof. Alexander Evers.  The welcome was followed by dinner served at the hotel.

Saturday morning, the group departed for Caseificio Mozzarella di Bufala Vanulo and Paestum. The Caseificio is a buffalo farm that produces and sells products made from buffalo milk in-house, such as buffalo yogurt, gelato, ricotta, and most famous, mozzarella di bufala. The students were able to walk around and see first-hand the organic farm’s processes for feeding, milking, and cleaning the buffalo. Then they watched as mozzarella makers stretched and formed the balls of mozzarella, afterwards enjoying a sample of a small mozzarella di bufala ball. Free time was spent either purchasing mozzarella to be taken home or eating any of the several products made on the farm.

Paestum, located in the southeast of the Gulf of Salerno, is an important archaeological site containing three majestic temples located in grassy plains, namely the Temple of Hera, the Temple of Neptune, and the Temple of Ceres.  The group visited the site on foot and then walked through the museum containing some of the artifacts found over the years.

Sunday began with a visit to the Royal Palace, La Reggia di Caserta, which is a Unesco World Heritage Site and one of the most important monuments of the Italian artistic heritage.  This masterpiece of architecture and decoration houses many works of art accumulated from the various years of use.  The group walked room to room, learning their differing purposes and coordinating decorations, with furniture, stucco walls, and fresco paintings and sculptures still in tact.  The palace is very reminiscent of the Palace of Versaille in France.  Outside the group briefly walked around the enormous grounds containing many gardens and paths.

After dining together near by the palace, the group departed for Rome with a stop at the Abbey of Montecassino along the way.  Montecassino Abbey is a cradle of Western monasticism and culture, four times destroyed and rebuilt, and today still offers visitors the splendor of the Cathedral’s art, with evidence of wartime martyrdom and precious manuscripts in its huge library.   The group visited the oldest and deepest area of the Abbey (not destroyed by WWII bombings) which included the cell of St. Benedict and the staircase of Epigraphs.  The rain and fog were thick as the sun started to set, which perfectly concluded the weekend away from Rome.  With so much seen and discovered, all slept very well this Sunday night as they geared up for the beginning of semester classes the next day.

Mass of the Holy Spirit Spring 2013

Mass of the Holy Spirit Spring 2013

Spring 2013 Mass of the Holy Spirit: January 23

On Wednesday January 23, the John Felice Rome Center Community came together to celebrate a private mass in the Church of Saint Ignatius in the downtown historic center of Rome.  Mass of the Holy Spirit is the capstone of the orientation experience each semester and is celebrated by Fr. Al Anuszewski, O.SS.T. ,with the assistance of Fr. Ted Bohr, S.J. and Fr. Phillip Renczes, S.J., as well as  Deacon Mike Rogers, S.J.  Prof.ssa Delia Surratt cantered the mass accompanied by Prof. Alexander Evers on the organ.  Dr. Michael Beazley, Director of Residence Life and Student Services, also helped cantor and lead hymns, and student readers helped with passages and intercessions.  After the mass, the group enjoyed dinner at two nearby restaurants in the Piazza Navona area.  Mass of the Holy Spirit is a continuing tradition that is anticipated with each new academic term.




Hunger Week 2012

Hunger Week 2012

Hunger Week Fall 2012


The John Felice Rome Center mirrored Loyola University Chicago’s events of hunger week through the week of November 12-15.  Each day the students hosted an event that raised funds to go towards their organizations of choice.  This semester the students decided to help support Sant’Egidio, a local organization that helps the poor and needy with food and prayer services, and the Jesuit Refugee Service in Rome, an international Catholic organization that aids refugees, forcibly displaced peoples, and asylum seekers.


Monday November 12 kicked off the week’s first event with a cooking demo in the JFRC Rinaldo’s Bar with Chef Lorenzo Polegri of Orvieto.  The JFRC has a warm relationship with Chef Lorenzo, including study trips to Orvieto where he and his team lead the students not only through the town market and cooking demonstrations, but also to local olive oil mills and wineries.  This night, Chef Lorenzo brought two of his interns from his restaurant, Ristorante Zeppelin, to teach the students how to make homemade tagliatelle (fresh long, flat pasta), a tomato sugo, and a tiramisu hand-whipped dessert.  The students dove right in with the hands-on experience as they rolled, cut and shaped the pasta, as well as crafting the tomato basil sauce, one of Lorenzo’s own recipes.


After working hard to create the meal, the students sat down in Rinaldo’s bar to enjoy the fruits of their labor.  This night, the students raised 130 Euro to begin the donation pot that would continue to grow all week.


The second night of Hunger Week included the JFRC Silent Auction on Tuesday evening November 13.  At the auction, students, faculty, and staff offer goods and services to be auctioned off to all those present that night.  Donations include everything from the tangible cookies, tiramisu, homemade fudge and brownies, to promises of event days downtown such as a bike ride for two with our librarian Anne Wittrick, an SLA’s favorite day, or a tour of the Vatican Gardens with Father Al.  The students have about three hours to bid, and at the end of the night the auction closes and the winners are announced.  Some items win with a simple 2 euro bid, and others, like the ever-popular “Chili night for six with Mike, Colleen, and Annie Beazley” can go for over 80 Euro.  This night the JFRC raised 1,040 Euro to add to the donations for the week.  Everyone was amazed at the efforts and success of the evening.


The third and final event of this year’s Hunger Week was the installation of “Donate your Dinner”.  This occurred on Wednesday November 14 at the dinner cafeteria service.  Students were able to give up their dinner and Loyola agreed to donate the money spent on each student to the week’s donation pot.  All in all, the students raised another 640 Euro that went to give others food instead of feeding themselves in the unlimited buffet.


The grand total for the week was 1810, completely raised by students, faculty, and staff to help those in Rome who need the services much more than those needed on campus. 


All events culminated in our JFRC Thanksgiving Meal on Tuesday November 20 where James Stapleton, the representative from the Jesuit Refugee Service, was presented with his half of the funds raised and gave the group a quick explanation as to where exactly where that money would go and who it would help.  He assured that it would go directly to the large influx of immigrants coming from North Africa to seek refuge and that it would provide countless meals for those who would otherwise go without.


Hunger Week is one of the most important weeks of the Fall Semester at the JFRC and is truly a time for members of the JFRC community to reflect upon their blessings and work outside themselves to help those who can benefit from caring services.

JFRC Student Olive Harvest

JFRC Olive Harvest

In Italy, late October and early November is the season of the olive harvest.  All over the country families gather to strip the mythical trees of their fruit, which pitter patter delightfully onto the nets bunched below.  When their trees stand bare, the families gather the olives in burlap sacks and plastic crates and take their harvest to the local frantoio, or olive press.  While the press hums away inside, outside a fire burns and locals toast bruschetta, sample their fresh oil, and compare the first batches of their young homemade wine.

Towards the end of the fall semester 2012, JFRC students participated in this Italian celebratory harvest.  It took a day and a half of hard work, and the hands of many students, but the more than forty olive trees on campus were stripped bare.  SLA Jack Spittle and eight students then took the resulting 1,200 pounds of olives to a frantoio just north of Rome in the countryside.  There they saw the pressing process first hand: they watched their olives as they were cleaned, chopped, mixed, and then pressed.  Forty-five minutes later their oil began to ooze out, and continued to do so for half an hour, after which seventy litres of the ancient green liquid rested in four massive containers. 

The quality of a particular olive oil is determined by a variety of factors, but the classifications generally seen on labels are determined by acidity levelThe JFRC oil has an acidity level of just .35%, which makes it extra virgin oil, the highest quality!!!

Snapshot of the 1,200 pounds of fresh olives harvested from the JFRC Olive grove in Rome.

Emily Bouroujdian (LUC) and Karina Leon (LUC)

World War II Study Trip

F12 World War II

JFRC WWII Study Trip

This past weekend was time, once again, for the semi-annual World War II study trip.  This is a two-day trip where the students get a glimpse of the role that Italy played during WWII.  The Italian Campaign played an important part in the European theater, however it has been lost in its exposure to most students.

The trip was primarily funded, planned, and led by two distinguished JFRC alumni – historian Phil O’Connor, PhD, and former West Point instructor Jim Centner, accompanied the JFRC’s Professor of Modern History, Anne Wingenter.  Students visited several historically significant sites in World War II Italy, including visits to Anzio and Nettuno, and areas of Rome not seen by the average tourist.

On the first day, students visited Anzio and Nettuno where they saw the US Military Cemetery and sought to understand what young American men and women did during the Italian Invasion.  They then had lunch on the beach between Nettuno and Anzio where the Allies first landed, resulting in perhaps the bloodiest battle in the War.  This first day gave a solid summary of what the fighting was like in the Mediterranean, concluding with a trip to the interactive and comprehensive War museum, Piana delle Orme.

On the second day in Rome, students learned about the impact that the War had on its citizens including the Massacre at Fosse Ardeatine, the Gestapo Headquarters at Via Tasso, and the part that the Roman Resistance played in attacking the Nazis at Via Rasella.  The Fosse Ardeatine provided perhaps the most powerful insight into the horrors of the War in Italy as the site is comprised of caves just outside the city where 335 Roman civilians were executed by the Nazis as a reprisal for the Partisan attacks on Via Rasella.

This trip is meant to educate and remind students of the atrocities of War, giving them inspiration to apply this education in a world where social justice and the implementation of human rights policies are especially important.

JFRC pilots new Leadership Certificate Program

This semester, with the help of our Director Emilio Iodice and Student Life, The John Felice Rome Center launched a new initiative that is unique to most study abroad experiences in Europe.   We are honored to have the Spring 2015 class as the first to participate in the JFRC International Leadership Certificate Program; mirrored off of the Leadership Certificate Program at Loyola University Chicago and designed with the unique experiences of Rome.

Under the guidance of Director Iodice, Associate Dean of Students Cindy Bomben, Director of Residence Life and Student Services Alvin Mangosing, and Student Life Assistant Jessica Kuh, students were asked to participate in various Key JFRC Leadership Experiences which included: enrollment in Emilio’s Leadership Course; membership in Student Activities Committee; participation in Calcio League; membership in a Christian Life Community; attendance in the World War Two Weekend Study Trip; participation in off-campus service opportunities and attendance at various lectures throughout the semester. The goal of the certificate program is to not only continue to recognize the positive impacts of these young global leaders already here at the JFRC, but to also give them the opportunity to synthesize and share these experiences with the rest of the community.  

The certificate program culminated with a 3-minute presentation given by each student in front of staff and faculty in which the student demonstrated what leadership abroad has meant to them.  These students chose to add an additional dimension of global learning to their study abroad experience by engaging with Rome on diverse levels through service and socio-cultural conversations. 

With over 35 students who have completed the Leadership Certificate requirements, the John Felice Rome Center is proud to announce that these students are the inaugural International Leadership Certificate recipients! This is a legacy that will be carried on throughout the years and the community here at the John Felice Rome Center is passionate about fostering leadership amongst its’ students for semesters to come.

Congratulazioni ragazzi!