As my plane leaves from Milan to Berlin at 7:00 tomorrow morning, the amazing Italy trip is coming to its end. So much has happened that I’m not sure how to write it out into coherent sentences. But do not fret (like the Asian woman sitting across from me on the train just did when I sneezed into my arm)!!! I will attempt to note each activity and impression I have experienced in Italy and I encourage you all to ask or tell me anything concerning my trip.
Saturday, Day 1: Milan – See previous post
Sunday, Day 2: Rome
- Left Milan early Sunday morning to go to Rome. We are constantly learning things the hard way, like activating our Eurail pass BEFORE we get on our first train in order to not be fined 50 euro 😦 this waste of money is still killing me
- We arrived in Rome Termini station a few hours later and attempted to walk to our hostel with my directions. This didn’t work out so we took a decently cheap cab ride a few blocks the opposite direction (oh well).
- At the hostel we reveled in the wifi actually within our room and met our intriguing roommates. One of the girls was about to reach thirty, was engaged but not planning to get married, and traveling around Europe when she was supposed to be finding a job. Time and time again, I come to appreciate my existent work ethic, which seems to be leading my life in the right direction (unlike this girl’s). However, this girl/woman/lady came to be an indispensable roomie because she gave us the solution to our most troubled abroad problem – HOW TO GET NETFLIX, HULU AND PANDORA. This is not a drill. I downloaded a legitimate extension onto Google Chrome that lets me surf US sites. I am now caught up with Grey’s Anatomy and I will forever be indebted to this girl.
- Anyway, traveling days are always rough so we decided just to go to the Trevi Fountain. We almost made it there when we stopped for some dinner, apparently just 1 km away from the fountain. I got rigatoni alla carbonara, which has an eggy, olive oil cream sauce, prosciutto (bacon) and little bits of cheese – possibly the best dish I’ve had in Italy. Then we made our way to the Trevi.
- Selfie Heaven. We sat on the edge of the fountain and took so many pictures of ourselves until the sun went down and the lights came on illuminating the water and sculptures. Granted, we made it there probably 20 minutes before sundown, but still it was cool to see the transformation. It was so cool being at a place that I’ve heard so much about and seen in movies (Lizzie McGuire movie), but had never imagined having the opportunity to see it myself. It is truly amazing. The detailing, beauty and enormity of the Trevi is incomparable.
- I think we just went back to the hostel after that, in order to recuperate from the day and prepare for the next.
Monday, Day 3: Rome
- We got a good night’s sleep and woke up early that morning to head downstairs to the pizzeria to obtain our free croissant of the day. These were the best croissants I’ve ever had. The one I had on this day was a chocolate chip croissant with a custard creme inside. Simply, amazing. Then we made our way to the Vatican to meet my friend, Emily, from our FU-Best program who was in Rome at the same time as us. We attempted to walk there, but then decided to figure out the public transportation. For 1.50 euro we got there in 25 minutes and were barely late! (This was a big deal for us).
- Now, I definitely have a better idea of what the Vatican is, but the whole day was definitely a learning experience. All I knew was that the Vatican was considered its own country because of the game I play on Sporcle, where I attempt to name all the countries of the world (186 countries named is my highest so far). Oh, and that the Pope lived there; yeah, that’s it.
- We found Emily inside the Vatican and stood in line to go into St. Peter’s Basilica for about 45 minutes in the hot sun. Yes, it feels like summer in central and southern Italy right now. Right before we were allowed to enter, Emily had to borrow Isabel’s sweater to tie around her knees because no one with bear knees or shoulders could enter the churches.
- Then, we made the adventurous decision to climb to the top of the dome because it was something we “should not miss”. Well, we definitely did not miss the buckets of sweat we shed while climbing 551 stairs in crammed hallways and stairwells, right after being in the sun for the last hour. Though, I have to say, the view was worth it. It was crazy to see all of the Vatican and much of Rome from this highly elevated vantage-point.
- After that, we made our way down – where we noticed our legs shaking by the end of the journey. We wandered around the Vatican more and took many stops to sit down and just admire.
- Naturally, we got some great pizza and gelato for lunch and had to wait out the intense downpour. We parted ways with Emily and found a bus back to the hostel to chill before dinner with our other friend, Jess from the program, who was coming into Rome and staying at the same hostel as us.
- For dinner, we went to some random Italian place (like every meal) and I had some kind of pasta that I can’t remember at this moment. Our girl-talk was at an absolute high during this meal, probably causing the entire restaurant to be experts on our love-lives. We have also figured out that if we spend enough time in a restaurant they’ll give you a free round of whatever specialty shot they offer. It’s normally really weird, but free. And, of course, we ventured to get gelato afterwards.
Tuesday, Day 4: Rome
- Our next day in Rome started off with one of those blessed croissants. This day I tried the white chocolate one, which now leads me to believe what heaven is like. Just lots and lots of white chocolate croissants…that are free. We met Jess and took the rail to the Colosseum, where we were supposed to meet Emily too, but ended up not finding her.
- We attempted to get in for free, but ended up just cutting the line instead (traveling has made me even more cheap and ballsy than normal). Since the Colosseum is such an important landmark, we thought it was worthy of an audioguide. Unfortunately, some guy unintentionally ripped me off and I ended up walking into the Colosseum without one. Yet, my perseverance prevailed when I took matters into my own hands and started following an English tour. I JUST WANNA LEARN GUYS. No one noticed, or maybe they just didn’t say anything and I got more than my money’s worth!
- The Colosseum was so cool, though. I took Latin for two years in high school and we had many Roman culture lessons so I had some brief background knowledge that made me even more interested. All that’s left is the brick structural foundation and some travertine blocks, which is amazing in itself. But, if you think about it, if it’s so amazing now, imagine it before the pillages and before the Roman empire fell and they needed to make money by selling the expensive materials. All that brick was covered in marble (not fully made out of marble because it looked just as expensive, but wasn’t) and decorated with gold leaves. I really enjoyed learning some more of the history and appreciating how amazing it still is.
- We had lunch (consisting of some gelato 😉 ) and Isabel and I went to the Capuchin Crypt. This place is so trippy. It started off with a museum of some friars and artifacts that Catholics used to use, I think (still don’t understand Catholicism too much). Then, we descended into the basement of the Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini. Every surface of the tiny chapels is covered in the bones of friars, arranged in intricate patterns and pictures. The entire experience was completely weird and mind-blowing. I guess some morbidly, creative friar was like “I’m gonna die anyway, so I’m going to design the place where my bones are gonna lay,” or something like that. Each chapel has a different theme, like one is “skulls,” another “shoulder blades,” and so on. It was really weird but, of course, we loved it.
- I think after the Crypt we went back to the hostel and chilled again until dinner. We met Jess and another girl who just arrived in Rome from our program also. We went to dinner at a restaurant right next to our hostel. That was the only not-so-good I’ve had here. My spaghetti bolognese was wayyyy to salty and I rarely notice when things aren’t prepared properly. Yet, all was cured when we got gelato afterwards to “cleanse our palette.”
Wednesday, Day 5: Naples
- That last morning in Rome I got another chocolate chip croissant, but this one had a lemon jam on it – also phenomenal – and we made our way to the train station. Side note: we knew the ins and outs of Rome by our third day there! We bought a train ticket to go to Naples and arrived in the afternoon. We waited a while for the rail to come, but it hadn’t showed up for a while so we decided to just take a taxi… bad idea. This guy went the wrong way multiple times, there was a buttload of traffic and we were already very fatigued. So, by the time we made it to the hostel, it was too late to do what we had planned. Instead, we wandered around the surrounding blocks and got a really good burger and fries (YAY “LONDON PUB”) for dinner.
- Walking around Naples my impression is that it is way, way too crowded. The streets, the houses, the people are all so close all of the times. It’s beautiful from far away, but kind of gross up close. Trash lines the streets and its potent smell cannot be ignored. I tried really hard to keep my eyes on the coastline, instead of the street in front on me.
- Side note: It’s weird how used to we’ve gotten to sleeping and showering in the same room as, on average, 5 foreign males.
Thursday, Day 6: Naples
- This is definitely one of my favorite days because we went to Pompeii!!!! We had hostel-provided breakfast and seamlessly made it to Pompeii (though I did leave my 10 euro umbrella somewhere). The rail ride there was a treat too. Out the window the most beautiful sceneries were all that was visible.
- We decided that this site is also something worthy of a guided tour, so we followed our little, trendy Italian lady around possibly one of the most amazing places I’ve ever been. Yet another mind-blowing experience. We saw the people who had been encased in ash and lava and preserved by the archeologists who injected plaster into them, preserving their shape and bones inside. Two-thousand years later and all these structures are still there and partially preserved. It’s crazy because in the US we’re astonished when a house is 100 years old.
- If anyone has any further questions on my Pompeii experience, I’m happy to answer, but there is just so much and my this blog post is already lengthy.
- Pompeii was another hot day in the sun, so our sweaty selves ate lunch then went back to the hostel to back our way to Florence.
Friday, Day 7: Florence
- We got into Florence late Thursday night, checked into our hostel, and went off to eat dinner. We went to this really popular place down the street where a lot of foreigners go. We met some Americans, but left so we could soon pass out from the long day.
- Friday morning, we leisurely got 6 euro buffet breakfast from the hostel and wandered around the city. I’m not too sure what we saw, though. Florence is not much of a place of doing things, but more going and looking. We wandering around the many leather markets and saw the incredible Duomo and surrounding buildings. I have so many great pictures and my newest hobby is making fun of other people taking corny pictures. I like to take selfies of other people taking selfies and pose like other people are posing, with them in the background. It’s really too entertaining.
- At this point, I am getting sick of pasta and pizza and just want a large salad and bowl of fruit. But, we still have pizza and gelato for lunch. We went back to the hostel, I napped, then went out to dinner. I had spaghetti alla carbonara again, which seems to never fail and Isabel bought be a little chocolate dessert because I did a lot of the trip-planning.
- Our nights are pretty early because constantly traveling and doing so much in so little time is extremely fatiguing.
Saturday, Day 8: Venice
- Currently on the train to Venice! I’ll post about today as soon as I can! I have to write an outline tomorrow (due Monday) for one of my classes, so that’ll be really fun after I just traveled Italy for a week.