Italia!

aricciaI can’t believe I’m finally here, settled in, adapted to the time change (that took a few days of awkward sleep hours and early mornings), and wandering the streets of Italy. We have now visited Albano (closest town, to the left of Ariccia), Genzano (walkable town to the right of Ariccia), Castelli Romani aka “Roman Castles” {including the towns of Castelgandolfo, Nemi (favorite treat so far, the little mini strawberries with sugar & limon), Frascati, & Grottaferrata.

Funny little factoid…Grottaferrata has a seasonal festival where wine is pumped into fountains in the city and there is a festival with drinking and a feast. Last year, the wine was instead pumped into homes and through sinks, shower, and interior plumbing…oops.

As far as the weather goes….it’s rainy, dreary, and pretty chilly every day. BUT I’m not letting it slow me down too much. Today is Saturday and me, Green, and Holly are chilling in the room, catching up on picture downloads and a little laziness. It’s raining a lot today, more so than others. Yesterday was big…actually it was huge for me, so now is the perfect time to reflect.

Friday was our first trip to Rome. It was incredible! I love it. There is so much to see, so much to do, so many people to watch, such amazing food, such incredible history, such modern style blended in with ancient structures, and it is a flood of senses. We toured from Piazza di Spagna to Antico Caffe’Greco to Via Del Corso to Piazza Colonna to the Trevi Fountain to the Pantheon to the Piazza Navona to Campo De Fiori to Via Condotti to Via Margutta to Piazza del Popolo to the Villa Borghese.

The Scalinata di Piazza Spagna was amazing to see first, we exited the train station and walked down an ally into an open area with horse and carriage and an open piazza and the grand Spanish Steps…..

Random little factoid… in 2007 a Toyota Celica drove down the steps which are the longest & widest staircase in Europe. The man was intoxicated, arrested, and no one was injured. Also, in 2008 in a protest for the conditions in Europe for artists, a man poured thousands for multi-colored plastic balls on the steps.

One of my favorite things from Rome was having cappuccino at Café Greco were Keats, Mark Twain, and Hans Christian Anderson who lived upstairs at one point. It’s upscale, beautiful, and sylish on the interior. [we stood at the bar because at some bars it is cheaper to stand than sit] I practiced my Italian with the bar-tender wearing a suit and tie. I said “Mi piacere la cappuccino. Grazie….Sto imperando l’italiano.” I like trying the language but it’s always a little discouraging when they don’t understand. But, he smiled shook his head and kindly gathered for a picture with the other bartender.

The shopping on the Via del Corso is extremely high end, on the Via Condotti is [in the words of my friend Mar (short for Maria) who loves to abbrev (short for abbreviation)] ridic (short for ridiculous). Some of the top boutiques: Albertta Ferretti, Armani, Dior, Dolce & Gabbana, Ferragamo, Gucci, Hermes, La Perla, Louis Vuitton, Max Mara, Prada, Valentino, and YSL. That’s only to name a few and there are more on other main streets of Rome.

The Pantheon, was a breath-taking experience because we walked up an ally, and there it stood among delivery trucks, bars, tourists, locals, and other buildings. I’ve seen it in books, on movies, and occasionally confuse it with the Parthenon. It is massive, and its interiors are gilded, inlayed with marble & granite, intricate details such as moldings, swags, statues, chandeliers, and details. The tombs of Raphael (painter & Architect), as well as his girlfriend (who died before they were married), a king (not sure which one & or ones). It was raining when we walked in, and as we looked up, we could see rain falling through the oculus (hole in the top) which was really beautiful. I felt swirly because of its vastness when looking up at the dome and the surrounding coffered imprints.

The Fontana de Trevi was great. It’s fun to throw in coins because it goes to charity. Every day it is cleaned out, and it is gleaming white because it was recently restored. Throw one coin over your left shoulder from your right hand and you will return to Rome, throw 2 coins and you will fall in love with an Italian, and throw 3 coins and you will marry the Italian you fell in love with….I’ll let you guess how many I threw in!

Campo de’ Fiori was the place that I had to present to the group. It is a gathering place, open air market, great for people watching, and is the home to the yummiest panino (that’s the Italian plural for sandwich) so far! I had an eggplant, sundried tomato, and cheese Panini (singular). I also bought dried fruit from the market, which was absolutely delicious and so fresh (I would recommend the kiwi, banana, and mango).

After most of our group headed back to the hotel, a few brave souls stayed to explore more, despite the wet conditions…”When in Rome” Anyways, we went to a lookout over the Piazza del Popolo at one end of the Villa Borghese. Once at the top, we experienced a vast view of the city below which reached far beyond what the eye could see and it was filled with tons of domed structures, ancient buildings, apartments, and villas in the distance. Incredible! (I’ll take you there: mom, dad, & Chrisit)

Everything else was an experience too, but those were my favorites. We finished our group tour in the Piazza del Popolo which is also one of my favorite places…minus the men who trick people into buying bracelets and roses, just say “non grazie” (Mom, don’t take it, even though it is handed to you) It is large, open, and is the start to thee different roads, all which branch into Rome, and lead to new experiences, inspiration, and contemplation. Rome is my new back yard, and I can’t wait to explore it even more!

As for the trip in general, there are constant activities here, everything is a new experience, our group is large, loud, and we get some strange looks from the locals, some of which have never seen a blonde on the streets of their small town. I appreciate this experience more than anything else that I have ever known in my life.

Side note: A saying that is obviously true for the Italians/ my new way of daily living…”A tavola non s’invecchia” meaning “People do not get old at the table.” We know this to be true because a sit down meal is full of course after course of delicious food that is enjoyed to the fullest with a long table, friends, wine, and socializing. It’s incredible and quite a way of living! The food is great & don’t you worry because I’m a good little eater…even the meat!

This trip is allowing me to step out of my comfort zone, make new Italian friends, make new girlfriends within my group, appreciate new things about old friends, and enjoy learning without even studying a book! My teachers are excellent, enthusiastic, eager to answer any questions, and they constantly encourage us to try new things and personally grow. As the Italian’s say “La Vita! La mia Vita! L’Italiano!” [meaning “Life! My Life! The Italian!”]

Yes….there are a few errors with this post but you’re just going to have to deal….the internet thing is rough around here. sorry guys. I’ll try and upload photos soon. It’s really slow though. love you guys. thanks for reading 🙂

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2 comments so far

  1. Doraz on

    I love Italy. There is so much to see and do. Is the McDonald’s still in Rome? Haven;t been there fir a whil
    Cioa!e! Have fun and experience everything you can in the time you have!Ciao!

    • ameubanks on

      The McDonald’s is for sure there! I love it too and I have tons more exploring to do! Thanks for the good wishes.


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