Robert Cassady ’11 – I sat down with the intention of taking you all back through my time here in Italy, but now that I recall everything that I have done, I am overwhelmed. If I had been able to see all of the beautiful art that I have, or to taste all of the delicious food I have eaten, or stand on the countless vistas of the Apennines overlooking Italy’s picturesque countryside as I have done so many times, I think I probably would have fainted.

Robert, second from right, with his family in Rome.

There is simply more beauty in this country than one man can comprehend at any one time. It reminds me of something a very good friend said to me once, namely that if we were able to experience at this moment all of the joy that will come to us throughout the entire course of our lives we would die of happiness.

Before I came to Italy, and for a good amount of the time that I was here, I considered myself to be perfectly happy with being a child of the Midwest. Coming from a fairly large city in northern Indiana, I enjoyed the slower pace and simpler way of life. I was also comfortable with the idea of one day returning to South Bend. Yet, now I feel sort of mixed up inside.

My parents visited me two weeks ago in Rome and we had an amazing time. After a whirlwind of a week with many tours, food, and laughs, they left me in Rome by myself once more with finals looming as well. This was the first moment when I really started to miss being at home with all of my family. But it was an odd feeling, because it is hard to miss the snows of Indiana when you are exploring St. John Lateran or the Roman Forum on a pretty warm Roman day.

The family enjoyed a lesson in making pasta.

I am ready to come home, but at the same time am beginning to find it difficult to understand how I am going to live without the blessings of Rome as a constant companion. Simply put, almost everything in Rome is beautiful from urban neighborhoods to Bernini’s angels. One cannot even ride the bus or walk to a produce stand to buy an apple without meeting gorgeous architecture or some beautiful statue.

What will life be like back home in Indiana?  I think it will be even more wonderful than my time spent here in Rome. For although the buildings might be less spectacular (and certainly much, much, much less old) and art less present and amazing, my life will be full of things even more meaningful. Being in the Midwest is mostly about family. In that family, I include Wabash. I long to see the scarlet halls and to discuss the questions of humanity inside.

Just as the beauty of Rome helps to answer those questions, so too do my extraordinary professors and committed colleagues. I feel that I have not given Indiana its justice in this essay, and I might not have, but I hope to when I return and maybe spend the rest of my life there (with many trips back to Rome of course).