Tragically, we were not afforded a break during our entire fall semester. We study so very hard and no academic respite?! Well, finally, because of some timely Spanish holidays, we had 4 days in Italy rather than the regular brief weekend break. Italy was the perfect trip to bulk up for the holidays so that we fit in with all the other chubbies when we return home. Just trying to alleviate potential reverse culture shock, you know.
Continuing the overarching theme of all my trips and virtually the entire quarter abroad, we made every meal count in Italy. And by “count,” I mean “as large and delicious and legendary” as possible. Which we proudly achieved, starting with the perfect pizza at Dar Poeta in Rome, for which we waited an hour, shivering in the rain down an unmarked alley to taste a
slice entire pizza of heaven. Literally. Every pizza thereafter paled in comparison; my standards have been shattered by Dar Poeta. Sad story. Just like San Crispino gelato, boasted to be the “best in Italy,” made me see that icy goodness in a whole new light. But we had to keep trying every gelato shop, for scholarly empirical purposes, of course.
So other than stuffing our faces, Brittney and I dominated two days of the Monument Marathon, hitting literally every major site in Rome and then some. With the help of friends that had been living in Rome and studying the history of the city, we were privileged enough to stay in an amazing apartment and go on personalized walking tours with super-tour-guide Maiah. And by personalized I mean: consisting of lots of food breaks and hearing fun facts about every beautiful building, of which there were many more than many.
Our first day, we hit the standard landmarks like the Colosseum, the Forum (such cool “myths” behind the creation of the Roman empire that they’re actually finding evidence of beneath part of the Forum!), a stroll down Corso, through Trastevere neighborhood where our friends live, the Pantheon, Piazza Navona, and countless other buildings and piazzas that I recognized from art and architecture classes, but didn’t appreciate as much until they were HUGE and right in front of me. I was sincerely surprised by how much I enjoyed being a super-tourist in Rome; the Italians were much more tolerant of us blatant tourists than the unapproved Spanish. No shame here!
After a long day of “oohs and aahs” supplemented by a constant stream of gelato, I had about zero energy to conquer the Roman nightlife. Which I’m told wasn’t much to miss in comparison to Barcelona, unless you enjoy being called “Lady Gaga” by every Italian man you pass. Which some girls may. Late to bed and early to rise, I was off to the gratefully uncrowded Vatican around 8 am. I remember learning about the details and nuances of St. Peter’s for about a week in architecture class, when I finally experiences the space I just thought it was really, really, really, impressively big. And that in all of its grandeur, the Sistine chapel was relatively really, really small. It’s the stuff “everyone” has seen, but it was still an amazing experience to visit such spectacular buildings.
Then the real trek through the city began, with a salad (health? what?) lunch at Trevi Fountain, a visit to “Some Old Famous Rich Guy’s” Palazzo (beautiful but too many names), Spanish Steps, sunset at another big obelisk, Piazza del Poppolo, the Capuchin Monastery (SO CREEPY/COOL), and numerous other impressive places that I lost track of. Wandering the streets was just as entertaining, because the entire city was decked out in Christmas lights and bustling with holiday buzz and scrumptious goodies like my new favorite, chestnuts! Yes, they do have significance outside of the song.
And to finish it off right, a night at Trevi Fountain with wine and Nutella, a truly authentic Italian experience. Sure.