Thursday, June 30, 2011

holy....

So today, I visited St. Peter's Square, St. Peter's Basilica and The Vatican Museum. It was an adventure (but, they all are by now, right?)

St. Peter's Square

I bought reserved tickets online earlier this week because if the tickets are bought ahead oftime, the purchaser can skip the line (which happens to wrap around the whole "city"--Vatican City, that is. 100 acres in size..and takes about 3 hours to get in.) It sounds ridiculous, but I am sure most of you know, the Vatican is its own country. I actually remember having to point it out in Geography class in 9th grade at McEachern (Grazie Ms. Tsuhdi-Rose!) It has its own post office and everything!

Vatican Mailbox

I figured since classes are over until my last final (which is Monday), I should try to squeeze it in this week. I slept in a little and took care of some things at the Villa. So much for taking my time though. The crazy cleaning ladies at Villa Tassoni knocked on my door right after I got out of the shower. I told them to come back. They did not like that. They said they would give me 15 minutes...since when does the cleaning lady dictate when I can let people in my room that I am paying for?? I told them that wasn't enough. After haggling with them (yes, haggling for time to get ready...ridic!), we agreed on 30 minutes. So, I finished getting ready and was out the door by 11 or so. I got to St. Peter's Square around 11:30. I contemplated going to see the Basilica first, but thought the line was too long. I decided to take my chances on getting into the museum early. My reservation was for 2:30.

So, the ticket reservation worked, I cut the line. After you go inside though, you have to gothrough security and then trade a voucher for a ticket. You do have to wait in line after all...Well, while I am waiting in line, this crazy (I know I am using the word crazy a lot in this entry, but at this point of the trip--everyone here IS crazy!) tour guide grabs my arm and pushes me out of line for my ticket! (OK--sidenote: I haven't really talked about this alot in the blog, but Italians don't know how to say sorry OR "Mi dispiace"--which is suppose tomean sorry in Italian! They don't know how to say it in ANY language. They just push you out of the way everywhere over here. And if the pushing doesn't work, they insist on touching you. Leaning, elbowing, grabbing--they do not care how sweaty they are, how sweaty I am, they just want to touch someone!) Accepting that Italians do not have a sense of courtesy or personal space (at least not in my experience) was too far gone for me at thispoint when this crazy tour guide grabbed my arm! I looked at her with a dead stare and said, "DON'T touch me!" She got her way anyway and cut the line--grrrr! I finally got my ticket though. To escape the crowd, and since I was dying of thirst and hunger, I decided to take a detour to the "caffetteria." What a mistake that was....

I got lost!! ( I know that most people grab a bite midway or after the sites at a museum, but Ineeded to cool off after the encounter with the crazy tour guide.) There is one organizedflowing direction at this museum and I somehow went in backwards after having my lunch. The odd part about it all: I saw the Sistine Chapel first (it's the last stop at the Vatican Museum). After realizing where I was, I couldn't really be that mad anymore. I pulled outmy iPod and listened to the Rick Steves Audio Guide for the Chapel and took a lot of pictures. About 15 minutes after taking pictures, I got yelled at. Apparently, there is no video or photography even though everyone and their mother (literally) were takingphotos. I leaned over to the guy next to me and say, "well, everyone else is taking pictures."He didn't like that because he snapped at me in an Australian accent, "That doesn't make it right!" Despite all of this, I have to say that the Sistine Chapel wasn't what I was expecting. I don't know how to explain that because I don't know WHAT I was expecting. It's crazy to think one dude painted the Pope's personal chapel and place where new pope's are elected with a little help from some assistants who plastered the ceiling and help him build a scaffold.

Sistine Chapel ceiling

The Creation of Man in the center seems to be everyone's favorite part (with God giving Adam the "spark" of life). But, as you all know, I tend to have a darker side (especially when it comes to TV and art) and I preferred The Last Judgment (the piece done later byMichelangelo behind the alter, depicting (his interpretation of) the last judgment--Christ's return). The left depicts those ascending into Heaven and the right of those descending into Hell. The other interesting thing is that Michelangelo paints himself in the picture as well, on the right side. I'm not really sure why he did that or why he made himself look that way (like a melting corpse), but I like it--everyone knows I'm a Dali fan and it had that kind of surrealist look to it even though it's a renaissance era fresco. I am sure there are a thousand theories as to why Mike did that, but it was fascinating.

The Last Judgment (sorry the quality isn't great...not a lot of lighting)


Creation of Man (upside down...sorry, it was so crowded, the only spot I could get. I guess I could rotate the picture, but it would take a minute and I haven't had the time to spruce up my pics yet! :) )

After asking like 3 guards how to get back to the entrance, I just kinda decide to sneak back out the way I came in. It was so crowded! There were seas and seas of people in the museum and I seemed to be walking in circles! I have never in my life seen so many people in a museum. This made the other parts of the museum difficult to enjoy, not to mention the heat. I'm not sure if there is A/C, but if there was, I couldn't tell. The Sistine Chapel was also crowded, but I was in too much awe to notice until the second time I visited it.

The crowds... see... no exaggerating!

After figuring out how to get back to the beginning of the museum and doing to best I could to avoid the crowd (near impossible). There were several statues and also "Stanze di Raffaello" (The Raphael Rooms), including his work "The School of Athens" (pictured here). All of these rooms were decorated with frescoes, NOT paintings. Plaster is used for frescoes, not just paint. There were also some other interesting things in the museum, but hard to see because of the crowds. I was quite impressed with the ceilings and the architecture (yes, Claire & Robert). After seeing these works along with some modern art, I went back into the Sistine Chapel (the correct way) and then exited to visit St. Peter's Basilica.

School of Athens (Raphael)

The Basilica was gorgeous. I don't know how else to describe it and the pictures don't do it justice as usual. I guess it is just indescribable.

Peter's Basilica

Peter's tomb is inside covered by an enormous canopy that you see pictured here. The basilica sits where Peter was crucified on "Vatican Hill". The basilica is full of mosaics and impressive decor. Again, why can't churches in the U.S. look like this?!

Peter's Tomb

Michelangelo's "Pieta" is also housed here. It sits behind bulletproof glass. Also an amazing work. He was a genius apparently because he sculpted this when he was only 24. Younger than me! Why can't I have that kinda talent!? The Pieta is Mary holding Christ after being taken down from the cross. Next to the Pieta is the "Holy Door," opened every 25 years, to celebrate the "Jubilee Year"--encouraging new beginnings and forgiveness of sins and debts.

The Pieta

The Holy Door

I think that everyone MUST visit the Vatican sometime in their life. I'm not really sure why, but the entire time during my visit to the Vatican all I could think about was my great-grandmother ("Grandma") and how I wish she could have been there to see it with me and how she probably will never see it (yes, other family members, I thought of you all too, but all you have to do is get on a plane and get over your fear of flying :)! You have the rest of your life and you aren't in your 90's!) I hope that she will be impressed with my pictures when I get back, but I would have given anything to have her there today.

Well, today is my last day ALONE in Roma! I will be day tripping it this weekend to Bologna (to see Mariano Bucolo--Grandma's cousin--and his fam) and to Venice to meet up with BF. Look for more excitement come Monday night! Ciao!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Our own fireworks for 4th of July...

Shout out to BF...

He didn't get one last night so I felt bad. I missed him very much in Cinque Terre because it's very romantic (for those of you who don't know, I'm not Ms. Romance by any means, but this place just has that effect on people). Claire tried to warn me! Not to mention, he would have loved the atmosphere there. We love travelling to places like that. I'm so excited he decided to join me for my last week in Europe. I can't wait to see him. We will be in Venice, Rome, Paris and The Netherlands together!

We don't exactly have an official date as to when we got together, but it was Summer 2009, right around this time. I couldn't be happier that we did! (cheeseball comment, but the truth!). Because we don't have a date really...we can just say our first kiss was July 4, after going to a party with Ricky, Brian and Melissa at The Marietta Square. So, although Italy may not celebrate the 4th, at least I can kiss BF on 4th of July! (That sounds weird, but I thought I wasn't going to be with him on the 4th this year and now I am and it makes me happy). Therefore, I'm ok with the fact they don't have fireworks here...



(I posted a picture here from Cinque Terre's Via dell' Amore...usually couples sit in this chair as a ritual when visiting the path. I know BF wasn't there last weekend, but I have a feeling we might get to sit in that chair together one day!)

Sunday, June 26, 2011

an occassion special enough for its own entry...

Congratulations to one of my dearest friends Carlie Marie Monti! She is newly engaged to the love of her life! I am so happy you have found your soul mate and I can't wait to celebrate with you and Justin when I return to the states!

Additionally, Brandon's brother and sister-in-law, Bryan and Tara, have just found out the gender of their baby who will be born this fall. It's going to be a boy! Congratulations to you guys too!

Sidenote--now that I am living in Rome without a roommate and spending a lot of time on my own, I have really started missing my friends and family(and let's not forget Linus) much more. While I am having a great time in Italy, occasions like these (also Father's Day, Megan's Birthday, Claire & Robert's Homecoming and Annual Fripp Trip) make me realize how much my friends and family mean to me.

Missing everyone!

My name is Jenna, I have a blog, I am from the U.S. and yes, I am here alone...

Brace yourself for a long blog entry people. I had an unbelievable weekend! I visited Cinque Terre. For those of you who do not know, Cinque Terre is an area with 5 villages in the Italian Riviera (FYI, "cinque" (CHINK-wey) means 5 in Italian)--Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso. This is the geographical order of the villages, south to north, but I did not visit them in this order.

Friday immediately after class I went to the train station and left for Cinque Terre. I sat in yet another hot train, but by now I am used to it. I was in one of those God awful end seats at the end of the aisle. I dealt with it. I read during the whole train ride (which was nice. Because I have not traveled alone until this weekend and was taking 2 classes instead of 1, there wasn't much opportunity to read for pleasure). I arrived in La Spezia station around 4pm. I bought my ticket to Riamaggiore (where I stayed this weekend and the first Cinque Terre village), which is about a 15 minute ride from La Spezia. Here is where I unofficially met my new Moroccan friends, Mehdi and Fatine. Mehdi and Fatine did not realize they had to validate their tickets and unfortunately had to pay a mini fine. We got to talking and they asked me where I was from, etc. We parted ways after the train ride. I got off the train and there was a pedestrian tunnel to take to get the Riomaggiore's center. Right before entering the tunnel, there were some cool murals on the wall.

Riomaggiore

[I have to say, I relied a little bit too much on Rick Steves (shout out to Tiffany and Nico, I will get to introductions later, don't worry) for Cinque Terre. I trusted his judgment that it would not be too crowded. It was definitely super crowded. Most of the locals I spoke to told me the best time to go to Cinque Terre is a weekday in the fall (none of which were the days I spent there).]

I checked into my hotel, set my stuff down and then I decided to check everything out and get my bearings. I went ahead and purchased my Cinque Terre Card (this card allows you entry to the "hikes" between the towns) since I planned to do that Saturday. I walked around Riomaggiore for awhile and had an Birra Moretti at Bar Centrale. After that, I took a train to eat dinner in one of the other towns. Here is where I would like to mention that Cinque Terre's trains are an adventure in themselves. They basically go to each of the 5 towns, but for whatever reason they are not reliable. I did eventually make it to Vernazza for dinner. I had Linguine with Crab at Trattoria del Capitano on the water. It was good. The only downfall was I had to crack my own crab which just happened to be slathered with red sauce whilst wearing a white dress. That was a challenge my friends. I had a beer at the Blue Marlin Bar. There was a sign there that said "Cash Only" with a photo of Johnny Cash. I found this to be quite amusing.

Vernazza

I took the train back to Riomaggiore and that is where I ran into Mehdi and Fatine again. We spent a couple hours chatting and enjoying the outdoors. While we were talking a parade for San Giovanni (John the Baptist) came through the streets. That was interesting. Mehdi and Fatine were very nice! Unfortunately, I did not run into them again during my trip, but I trust they had a great time!

Mehdi & Fatine

I went to bed with the hopes of getting up early. I woke up around 8:30 (not as early as I'd hoped for). I had breakfast at my hotel and then I was off to the trails! I started with Via Dell' Amore to Manarola. This is a famous path in Cinque Terre connecting Riomaggiore and Manarola. It was once a lover's lane for those who dated outside of their village after WWII. There are a ton of locks placed by lovers and a lot of graffiti professing love for one another. There were also a lot of people making out (more so when I took the path back in the evening). Unfortunately, I was not locking locks or lips with anyone, but it was still enjoyable and very beautiful. I did not walk around Manarola until later in the afternoon.

View from Via dell' Amore

The path between Manarola and Corniglia was closed due to landslides, so after taking the path from Riomaggiore to Manarola, I took the train to Corniglia. After getting off the train at Corniglia, it is about a 400 step climb to the top. Despite the trail being closed, I would consider this to be my effort for the Manarola-Corniglia trail! I walked around Corniglia for about 30-40 minutes. It was very cute and quaint. Loved it! I did some shopping and scoped out the panoramic views. Side note--someone who has an accessory addiction such as myself, can get into a lot of trouble in Cinque Terre! From Corniglia I hiked the path leading to Vernazza. This hike was tough due to the crowds and the heat. Despite the fact that I was getting run over by German giants who had giant hiking boots and walking sticks, I enjoyed the hike. It was definitely exhausting. I walked around Vernazza again and enjoyed the daytime hustle and bustle (crazy term for Cinque Terre, but true for this weekend).

View of Corniglia from the Corniglia-Vernazza path

After that, I decided not to do the path from Vernazza to Monterosso because I kept hearing how dangerous it was (not to mentions the giants and the crowds). While waiting for the train, I met Tiffany (works in London for the NBA, originally from AZ) and Nico (works in London for the NBA, originally from France). We asked the same questions, where are you from, etc. We parted ways after getting off the train (don't worry, I bump into them again, just like Mehdi and Fatine).

I walked around in Monterosso and found a pub to eat lunch in. Gotta say, not a great lunch. Then again, I ordered salad. Nothing special about that. After having lunch I walked back to the main beach to rent an umbrella and beach chair. All full! I walked down a little further and found one in "New Town" (Bagni Fegina). I rented a chair and an umbrella. I enjoyed the water (this time in my Vibrams avoiding any rocks or hot pebbles like in Positano). I stayed in Monterosso for 3-4 hours. It was my least favorite village. Very touristy, very crowded. I only had one village left to see-Manarola.

I took the train from Monterosso to Manarola and walked the town. At this point in the day I have to say I was pretty beat. Nevertheless, I walked uphill (all of the villages were hilly) to the top of the village and went on a path into a vineyard that ended at a cemetery, then descended back into the center of the town. There were lots of lizards on this walk, so it was more like a run the entire way.

Manarola



I made my way back to Riomaggiore by taking Via dell' Amore. The winding down of the day looked gorgeous on the water and the rocky coast. I went back to my hotel to freshen up and then began a quest to find some delish food (which I had yet to have in Cinque Terre). I walked down to the harbor and up the stairs to a bar with a view and low and behold there was Tiffany and Nico! They asked me to join them. We had drinks and watched the sunset. Chatted up for the rest of the night until the bar closed. It was a great time! Afterwards, we found a Pizzeria open (everything closes by 11 in these parts, other than a few places here and there) and had dinner. Focaccia and pesto is what Cinque Terre is known for. However, I only tried Focaccia and it was actually pizza . Pretty tasty! We had gelato after that (of course) and then called it a night.

Sunset (Riomaggiore) Nico & Tiffany

This morning I slept in a little and had breakfast at the hotel again. I did some shopping in Riomaggiore and Vernazza. On my way back to Riomaggiore before departing for La Spezia I was sitting across from a young woman. I kept staring at her. I am sure she noticed because she finally said, "Do you go to Harvard?" (shout out to Claire, Kelly, Kim, Mayson and Rachel...I was sporting my Haaahhvard tee I bought in Boston from a street vendor)

I laughed and answered her. "No. I don't--just a souvenir I got in Boston." (she was the 2nd person to ask today) I got ballsy and finally asked her, (since I had been staring for 5 minutes) "Did you play one of Ted Mosby's girlfriends?" (yes, all of you HIMYM fans! She played Victoria, the girlfriend who moved to Germany ) She replied "uh, yes. you are like the 3rd person to ask me that on this trip!" All I could think to myself was, "What? Of course! Who wouldn't have asked you!?" I asked her for her autograph and she signed my train pass "Jenna, I didn't go to Harvard either. Ashley Williams" It was so freaking cool and super down to earth! She was chatting it up with me and I've never even met anyone famous other than Clinton Kelly! She was actually on her honeymoon and her fiancee was so freaking nice. It was like the most amazing way to end a most amazing weekend! I am a little embarrassed because I have actually seen her on a few ABC Family Christmas movies and of course Law & Order: SVU, but the only thing I could think of was HIMYM! When I got back to Rome I IMDB'd her and saw she was in Something Borrowed, so I feel like an idiot for not asking that. But, in my defense I have not seen that. I definitely want to see it now!

All in all it was an AMAZING weekend! Again, the pictures never do it justice! Ciao for now!

P.S. look for more on Roma this week. A lot left to see in my last week here! Then it's off to Paris and The Netherlands!



Monday, June 20, 2011

ooo...ahhh...what a dump...











So Friday we were off to Sorrento around 2pm. We had to take the train to Naples in order to get to Sorrento. Let me just tell you this train to Naples...the A/C was broken and none of the windows opened. To make matters worse, this couple sat facing us with their two two (approximately) year old girls (yes, two of them) in their laps. They did not speak English (not that I am the American who expects everyone to speak English, but it added to the ridiculousness of this train ride). These two kids were throwing stuff, taking all their clothes off, crying, you name it. Talk about birth control...the mother decided to strip one of them completely down to a diaper. The girl was sweating so bad the mother proceeded to give her a "sponge bath" (I say this in quotes because I feel like a wipe down with a baby wipe every five minutes isn't exactly a sponge bath, is it?). The mom was also sweating like a pig along with the other two year old who kept touching all of my stuff on the table. Oh wait, the sweaty one cried for about 20% of the ride. Did I mention that? I began to get so hot and frustrated that I had some napkins and used them to wipe of my face and my legs. I think at this point the mother thought I wanted a sponge bath too because she handed me the pack of baby wipes...I kid you not!

We finally made it to Naples and had to switch to the Circumvesuviana line to get to Sorrento. Everyone and their mother were smoking cigs while we were waiting for the train (did I mention I was getting over a cold??) We finally get on the train and this thing was standing room only. This one did not have A/C, but at least their were windows. It was about an hour train ride. At the end of the ride this creepy old guy kept trying to talk to us in Italian. I kept saying, "no capiche, no capiche!" I pulled out my dictionary. Embarrassingly enough, it opened up to the (let's just call it) the "how to hook up in Italian" section of the book, which contains phrases like "I only practice safe sex" (seriously, who uses this?). So this creepy old man starts pointing to words like "amore" and then saying "love." So weird. We finally get to Sorrento (still sweating) and this guy follows us to buy bus tickets. Finally, Crystal just looks at him and says, "ciao!" and he walked away (thank God, what a creeper).

We walked into the center of town, Piazza Tasso. From there, we caught a bus uphill to our hotel, Pension Elios (located on Via Capo). The owner of the place was so sweet! She spoke great English and asked us about our weekend plans. She asked us "where'a are all'a your'a bags'a?" When we told her we came from Rome she said "ah...thats'a where'a they'a are!" We had an AWESOME view of the water from our room. Sorrento is absolutely beautiful! The pictures don't even do it justice. We had dinner at O'Parrucchiano dal 1868. I had the mixed pasta dish Cannelloni, stuffed shells and Ravioli. It was delish! Sorrento and this region near the Amalfi Coast is known for its huge lemons. We had Delizia Limone, which is a fluffy dome cake covered with lemon whipped cream. This was a yummy dessert and very light! After dinner we took a walk down the streets of Sorrento, where all the shops and street vendors stay open until 11. It was very cool to see everyone out at night strolling. One of the highlights of my trip to Sorrento was designing my own pair of sandals! I saw this store from the street and there were hundreds of shoes outside (clearly, they caught my eye). When I walked in to the store, to my surprise, there were two men making the shoes, right there on the spot. I picked a design and they fit them to my mini feet and they were done in about 15 minutes! So freaking cool!


The next morning we caught the bus to Positano. Positano is one of the towns along the Amalfi Coast. It's a very chic town filled with boutiques and beaches (think like St. Simons, but fancier). The town is basically up on a hill of winding roads and in order to get to the beach, you have to descend down the winding roads. We rented a beach chair and umbrella on Spaggia Grande for the day and relaxed on the beach for 3-4 hours. The sand was pebbles and rocks. Not the easiest thing to walk on barefoot, but very beautiful. Positano, like Sorrento, also had amazing views! While we were on the beach there was a mom there with her two kids. Her little girl looked to be around 7 and about 150 lbs. She was wearing a teeny bikini eating a cheeseburger. Her brother was also there. An hour or so went by and I turned around and this family caught my eye. The girl in the teeny bikini did at first, but this time it was the butt ass naked kid (apparently, all of the kids run around naked on the beach here. wth??). Wait, the mother was also breast feeding a baby. Where did that baby come from? Was it in her bag or something? So bizarre. But, no worries the scenery and the relaxing day at the beach definitely trumped this odd encounter. We took the bus back to Sorrento and made a stop at the gelateria nearby. This place was bumping. It had a disco ball and was playing club music. The gelato was pretty good, but I was so distracted by the "ambiance," I can barely remember what it tasted like!

Sunday morning we got up and headed to Pompeii. Pompeii was an ancient city that was buried under 30 feet of volcanic ash after Mount Vesuvius erupted. Pompeii was rediscovered in the 1600s. The city had about 20,o00 residents. We saw several remains of the buildings, the forum and a few frescoes. Hopefully my pics will give you a better understanding of what it was like there. We spent about 4 hours here exploring and taking picture, while listening to an audio tour (if you go, opt out of the audio tour. wasn't the greatest).

From Pompeii, we headed to Naples with plans to have pizza for dinner. This was a bust. Because it was 4:30 in the afternoon (most places in Italy, other than touristy joints, are closed from 3:30-7 and Naples isn't that touristy) on a Sunday, every single restaurant and shop was closed. Naples was a total dump. There was garbage piled high on every corner and sketchiness across the board. Graffiti on every wall. Not to mention, we saw a few rats and a million pigeons in the streets. We have been learning in class that because Naples is in Southern Italy, it has a high crime rate and is closely linked to the mafia. This would probably explain the state the city is in. I hate to say that though, because I was really hoping Naples would be my opportunity to really interact with native Italians on a non-tourist level. I think that if we would have come here on a different day, we would have had a better experience. Needless to say, we did not get any pizza since everything was closed. Total bummer.

All in all, it was a great weekend! I will definitely be going back to Sorrento and Positano. I have a presentation tomorrow and a final on Wednesday. Ciao Ciao for now!!

[Pictures (left to right, top to bottom): Frescoes from Pompeii located in Villa dei Misteri, Forum of Pompeii, view overlooking the bay in Positano, our beach spot in Positano, view of Positano from the bus ride on the winding roads (if you see the sea of orange, that is where our beach spot was), Delizia Limone dessert at O'Parrucchiano, shoes being made at Corcione, street view of Sorrento, view of Sorrento from Via Capo and view from Pension Elios in Sorrento]

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The pope, the king, the president...






Today, we visited Basilica di San Clemente and Palazzo del Quirinale. Our professor decided to take us to San Clemente because it is considered one of Rome's "hidden treasures." The building is three tiers. On the street level, there is a basilica, below the basilica, there is another church and below that church there are ancient Roman houses. The church and the Roman houses are underground. Very cool. The tier of the Roman homes had a natural running spring. The buildings were all built on top of each other and one building supports the next. For example, the columns of the basilica of the first tier are supported by other columns below, and so on. Within the second tier there was also a worship area for Mithraeum. According to our professor, this was a cult like religion of the 2nd century and the worshiping was done in the pitch dark. Again, the reason I love Rome is because there is so much more history in this city than there is in the U.S.. The buildings were made out of such strong materials, such as stone and marble, that it was either impossible to demolish the structure or the structure was so sturdy it could support a whole additional structure on top of it! I was walking in a Roman's house today. NUTS! Afterward, our professor took us to get gelato on him. Score! I had amore e odio. Delish! That translates to "love and hate" (nutella with white chocolate. yum!)

The visit to Palazzo del Quirinale was also very cool. The judge we met at the Italian Constitutional Court got us a private tour. This was also awesome! Originally, this is where the pope sat during the Summer because it is located on one of the seven hills in Italy. Then the king took over this palace and the pope moved to the Vatican. Now, this is where the President of the Italian Republic lives. The art in this palace is very bizarre in a way because there are three different tones going on--pope, king and president. There was a chapel and several other rooms in the palace. Also, another neat tidbit was there were several so called, "hiding spots" for the pope. Where the pope could sit in the house and pray and not be seen. Everywhere you turned there was a secret room it seemed like. There was also a beautiful garden.

We returned to Trattoria Picchiapo for dinner. They have Gnocchi on Thursdays. Francesco is the best. (If you have been following my blog we ate there once before). Tomorrow we are headed to Sorrento with plans to visit Pompeii and Positano. Look for my blog about the weekend on Monday! Buonanotte!

[Pictures (left to right, top to bottom): Mithraeum worship area, ceiling of the Pope's mini "hidden" chapel (which also had a hidden room within it) in Palazzo di Quirinale, one of the rooms in Palazzo di Quirinale (obvi with chandeliers), "big" chapel (meant to resemble Sistine Chapel, without the artwork of Michelangelo, for the pope while here in the Summer), natural spring in the lower tier of San Clemente. The quality of my pics weren't so hot today because there are strict rules about photography in both of these places. They definitely don't do the actual locations justice!]

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Which bus do we take again?






Today, after class we stopped by a little pizzeria and afterwards we went to Trastevere. You would think it would be easy to get to seeing how it's only a few miles away from our villa. But wait! The metro doesn't go out there. We had to take the bus and let's just say that was an adventure. We weren't sure what stop to get off at (tried 2 buses) and once we made it to where we were going and wanted to come back home, we didn't know what bus to get on (tried 3 buses). Don't worry, we obvi made it home. You live, you learn. Right?

While we were in Trastevere, we tried to go to this restaurant, but it was closed. We settled for one around the corner. Let's just say it wasn't "authentic" Italian...you win some, you lose some and even if it was stouffer's, I guess it wasn't terrible lasagna. The gelato afterwards made up for it since I haven't had gelato since Sunday! I had banana (just for you BF) and cinnamon. We also visited Santa Maria in Trastevere Church. It was beautiful. Like the other churches in Italy, it was very old and extravagant, even though it was small. Nothing like the churches in the U.S. There was a fountain in the front in Piazza Santa Maria. This is the biggest meeting area for Trastevere, being one of the smaller neighborhoods. I definitely will be going back and clearly will need to get some recommendations for restaurants (Claire and Robert, this means you). I'm still getting over my cold. My professor tells me I need to go to the beach. Apparently, that's how Italians get over a cold. I just might listen to that advice! Ciao!

P.S. Kelly, I didn't label these pics because I thought even you could tell the difference between lasagna, a church and a fountain. :)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Arancia, Flumucil Mucolitico and ActiFed

So, I seem to have caught a cold here in Rome. Grrr...I went to the pharmacists to ask for Mucinex-D. For those of you who don't know, this is a miracle drug, apparently not sold in Italy. The pharmacist couldn't understand a freaking thing I was saying. He proceeded to invite me behind the counter to "Google" what I needed and also pulled up "Google" translator. Finally, he realized I wanted some form of Guaifenesin. "No, no, no he said." They didn't have it. So he gave me some crap, Flumucil Mucolitico and ActiFed. If ever in Italy, stay away from the Flumucil Mucolitico, citrus chewables. YUCK! Arancia is orange juice...from a carton similar to what cooking wine is sold in from the U.S, I might add. Drinking that straight.

So today we also walked down to Piazza delle Repubblica because Crystal wanted to visit a restaurant in Rome that she went to when she was here with her fiance. She's obsessed with the risotto there. I had spaghetti cacio e pepe. Not bad. We basically walked around in circles until it opened because most restaurants do not open until at least 6:30 here, and some as late as 8. Alessio was the name of the place. It started to rain. The crazy umbrella guys then staged their attack once again and came running after us at every corner. Since I am sick, I decided that being in the rain wasn't the best idea ever. So, I haggled that crazy umbrella guy until I could haggle no more. 2 euros for a freaking umbrella! Even AFTER the haggling. Crap.

I have a presentation tomorrow, so we came back earlier than usual. Not to mention, the city is doing work on the metro until next year, so it closes at 9 Sunday-Friday. Boo. Well, not a crazy eventful day...Ciao!

The things I do for my friends...special request from KJ for picture labeling.








Pictures from left to right, top to bottom: View from San Gimignano of the countryside, View from Giotto's Tower in Florence, Constitutional Court's Private Library, outside view of Giotto's Tower in Florence, Il Duomo in Florence, inside of Duomo in Florence, Il Duomo in Siena, City Hall in Siena. I will do my best to label pics as I go along, but I haven't figured it out yet. Yes, I went to Tech. Bite me.