First Weekend in Rome!!
My First Weekend in Rome!!
Wow!! I have done sooo much. I don’t even know where to begin. I have never been anywhere in my life where there is an endless array of things to do, places to go, amazing sites to see, people to meet, lessons to learn…Roma! When Rome is referred to as the “eternal city,” there could not be a more accurate description. I will admit that I have had my rough moments – utter lack of sleep, aching body from walking, and having those moments where I really miss Bryan, especially when I think of how special it would be to share these experiences with him – but deep down I know that this is going to be one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I have learned so much in the past couple of days, I have opened my eyes to a new culture, I have already grown closer and closer to my friends sharing this adventure with me, and distance has made my heart grow fonder. Enough of this sentimental stuff, let me tell you what I’ve been up to in the past few days.
I finished my classes for the week Thursday afternoon. That night we had our second lecture from a man named Boem van Ravenswaaij, who has traveled the world and speaks multiple languages. He was a really interesting man and had lots to say about the importance of being cosmopolitan and opening yourself up to other cultures and appreciating your own. He is going to speak again this Tuesday. After the lecture, I went out for some gelato with a couple of girls – Giuliangela, Annie, and Tamara – to Piazza Navona. Yummy!! Gelato is so delicious, and I hear it is better for you than ice cream. Piazza Navona was so beautiful too. The fountains and the church were amazing at night, pictures cannot possibly do it justice.
Later, we went to Campi di Fiori and I got a taste of the night life in Rome. There were so many people out and so many little restaurants to go to. It was really fun trying to communicate with Italians too. It is a little frustrating, though, because I wish I knew so much more. But I guess that’s what I’m here for – to learn some Italian. As I said earlier, distance has made my heart grow fonder, even under the aggressive charm of Italian men.
On Friday, we began our tours. I have seen sooooo much in the past couple of days! In the morning, we went to the Roman Forum and Capitaline Hill on our first tour. I had no idea how massive the Roman Forum is. It just keeps going. Around every corner, there is another large monument to see. It amazes me so much how these structures have lasted thousands of years. How on earth did they build it in the first place? There are temples and monuments and grand meeting halls and churches….There is so much in one place and it is all so old. It is so amazing! This is what Rome is all about.
Capitaline Hill was really cool too. It’s almost like Capital Hill in Washington D.C. – but not at all. The statue of Caesar on the bull extending his arm in peace is so beautiful in person. It was originally covered in gold and I can only imagine what it must have looked like.
On Friday afternoon, we went to the Imperial Foro. It was a little rainy, it has been for the past couple days. It’s really funny seeing everyone get out their umbrellas for a few sprinkles. The second it begins to rain, all these Albanians come out and try to sell you an umbrella. Anyway, the Imperial Foro was really neat. It was really interesting to see the physical changes of Rome from the time of the Republic to the time of the Roman Empire – from the Roman Forum to the Imperial Foro.
Friday night, Giuliangela and I went shopping, we went to the Spanish Steps, out to eat at a cute little Italian restaurant, and then to a movie. It was such a full night and I had so much fun. Shopping was amazing! I could spend days trying on clothes. Everything is so different and unique. When you go into a store, you don’t see the same shirt in a couple different colors, but a million different shirts in every shape and color. The best part of all is that everything is on sale!! The shirts I bought ranged from 3-12 euro. After shopping until I was satisfied, we went to the Spanish Steps. It was so beautiful at night, I can’t describe it, but it almost brought tears to my eyes.
As we were walking around, I saw some amazing shops that I know Katie and Amy would love and I had to stop and take pictures of them while Giuliangela made fun of me. There were purses like you couldn’t imagine. Valentino, Louis Vuitton, Dior…Wow. I know Katie really wanted a purse for Christmas, so here’s your purse Katie – it’s only like $2,000!
We also went to a movie later that was in English with Italian subtitles. The Italian commercials and movie previews were the best part. Apparently, nudity is not shameful on Italian television. Anyway….the movie was an American movie so I didn’t have to worry about that.
We got up bright and early on Saturday to continue with numerous tours. In the morning, we went to Palatine Hill and the Colloseum. Palantine Hill is a palace and home to one of the emperors. It is very larger and at the top of one of Rome’s seven hills. I can imagine that it was a very nice place to live and through grand parties.
Then we went to the Colloseum. I have been so excited to actually see it and it was everything I imagined and more. The size was so intimidating and the architectural structure was brilliant. I though it was really cool that we could see the tunnels that went under the stadium – where they kept the gladiators and beasts. The view from higher up was amazing, I think that it beats the Notre Dame stadium. The view of the city was also really breathtaking. There is just an awesome aura that surrounds everything there. We even got to take pictures with some of the gladiators and the emperor. I was so excited about the Colloseum that we watched the movie, Gladiator, later.
Our journey back to the hotel from the Colloseum was another story. Let’s just say that when you take one wrong turn in Rome, it may take you fifty minutes to right that wrong.
On Saturday afternoon, we went to the Pantheon and Piazza Navona. I had been to both of these places already at night, but it was really amazing to see them both again in the daytime. Like everything else I’ve seen recently, they were beautiful! It was really cool to see the sun beaming in through the eye of the Pantheon. By the way, I can actually see the dome of the Pantheon from my Rome too.
It was also really neat to be at Piazza Navona during the day because there were so many artists displaying their work and people just hanging out on the fountains and walking around.
On Saturday night, we had a girls night out. Giuliangela, Alexandra, Christine, and I went to Tresevere and found this cute little restaurant. They had a cute little patio outside and candles on all the tables inside. We were also able to get chips and salsa, which is like amazing, because nobody from last semester knew any place that serves chips and salsa. So, now everybody knows because of us. Anyway, it was really good and really fun to just spend some time the girls and relax. As we left there were lots of artisans that had just set up shops and were selling cute jewelry and other little things like that. There was also some interesting Italian man entertaining a crowd of people by dancing with a stick a fire on the end of it. I didn’t really understand what was so great, but maybe he was saying something that I didn’t understand. Anyway, it was a really fun night.
On Sunday, we went to somewhere (I don’t remember the name), Tiber Island, Circus Maximus, and the Baths of Caracalla. Tiber Island was pretty cool. Apparently, I saw like the first bridge ever built in the history of civilization, I think. Next we went to Circus Maximus. It was enormous!! I had seen it the day before for a brief moment when we were taking our “detour.” Anyway, we walked around it and I felt like I was on an enormous track. Apparently, back in the day when they had chariot races there (that would be so cool if they still did that) they could fit a quarter of a million people there. The Romans definitely thought size matters because they were all about enormous monuments that could display their lavish wealth and culture.
Another prime example of the rich culture of the Romans is their enormous baths. We went to the Baths of Caracalla. I don’t know why they don’t still have those kinds of places…there are warm pools and cool pools and saunas and gathering rooms…they totally beat modern day fitness clubs.
On Sunday night, we went to church in the Saint Mary’s Chapel. It was a really chapel. I took pictures of it and I plan on taking pictures of the other churches I go to in Rome as well. There are about 800 Catholic Churches in Rome, so we plan on going to as many as possible while we’re here. We’re going to try to go to mass every Wednesday somewhere different. I would really like to go to mass at the Vatican on Ash Wednesday, I’m going to ask Father Mark, my religion teacher, about that tomorrow.
After mass, we went out for Chinese food at this little sit-down restaurant behind our hotel. It was really nice, a lot nicer than the Chinese take-out I’ve had in the past. I know it was a little strange going to a Chinese restaurant while in Italy, but apparently there are a lot of nice Asian restaurants here.
Anyway, I apologize for taking so long for the update. I’ve been super busy and having a great time. We’ve even started planning our weekend travels and a little bit of spring vacation. We’re planning a trip for the weekend of February 11th. I’m not sure exactly where we’re going yet, probably somewhere in Spain. We’re going to Torino February 18th for the Winter Olympics. We’re taking a night train there, we’ll be there all day Saturday, and then we’re taking a night train back Saturday night. The only event that is in Torino that day (without traveling an hour or two for skiing) is hockey, so I’m not going to an event, but I’m going to walk around Olympic Village all day. I’m really excited about it! Then, the weekend after that, the 25th, we’re going to Venice for Carnevale! It’s pretty much like Mardi Gras, but in Venice. And we’re definitely going on a gondola ride while I’m there. I’m so excited to be going to Torino and Venice!! I’m going to have so much fun traveling around Italy and Europe. As of right now, the plan for Easter is the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris. I’ll keep you updated on my travel plans for sure. I have to go now, I actually have this thing called class in the morning at 8:00. Talk to you soon. Love you, Angie