Monday, November 19, 2012

11/12 - 11/18: Oh yeah, and then I went to Rome

Monday, November 12:
So it was definitely tough to get up this morning. Not only was I no longer in Paris, but I was also feeling sick. But I dragged my butt out of bed anyway and went about my day. (Look at me, being an adult and all that.) Today seemed to be rough for everyone though, so after class at Santa Croce, Gail took us to a bar, where she treated us to cappuccino or hot chocolate (our choice) and gave our midterms back. Now, a quick word on hot chocolate. Here in Italy, hot chocolate is cioccolata calda. It is very thick, very creamy, and very good. Some people serve it with cream, but I just think that's unnecessary. It's amazing stuff, you don't really need the cream, and you pretty much have to eat it with a spoon. If you try to just drink it, it's like drinking a chocolate puree (or stew, whichever) it's that thick. Needless to say, I love it. Made my day much better. After that, Caitlin, Gretchen, and I grabbed sandwiches for lunch and headed back to Linguaviva for Italian (where, I'm not ashamed to admit, I struggled to pay attention). Then I was done with class for the day, so I started doing some reading that I'd brought along with me, but ended up leaving because there was enough going on around me that I couldn't concentrate. So I got gelato and went back to the house. Dinner was squash and star pasta soup, frittatas, broccoli, kiwi and apples. I managed to tell my host mom that Frittata Night was always a good night. She enjoyed that. The rest of my night consisted of missing Paris and being largely unmotivated.

Tuesday, November 13:
Today can be summed up in one sentence: I walked two miles to school today, what did you do? It was a nice walk though, so I guess that's good. I had my Gender class in Palazzo Pitti (the Galleria Palatina -- worth it, everyone should go) and I had a lot of fun. Sarah (professor, not roommate) came up with a list of paintings and then turned us loose on the gallery, telling us it was a scavenger hunt and that she wanted us to write our thoughts/impressions/whatever about the paintings on the sheet. It was very freeing, getting to come up with my own thoughts on a painting rather than being told what it all represents. It's nice to have professors who can tell you every single detail about a piece of art, but it was also nice to have a break from that and be able to form my own opinions and attribute my own meaning. After class, I walked back to Linguaviva for class with Jodie (Florence and Rome, anticipating this weekend's trip), lunch, reading, emails, more reading, sitting in on Jodie's other class (by invitation), and then having Rome Orientation. After bus-ing back to the apartment, more reading (darn article summary), and then a late dinner (pasta, chicken burgers, stewed kale, apples, and some nut bar things that almost broke my teeth). Once dinner was over, I skyped with friends from home and then churned out 80% of my article summary for tomorrow afternoon. Woohoo.

Wednesday, November 14:
It's a sad day when I call sleeping until 8:45am "sleeping in." This is what my life has become. I finished that last little bit of my article summary and then went in to Linguaviva, where I did normal school things (like Italian, where we worked on the imperative). After that, I had class at Santa Croce again, where I made my little brother's day by taking a picture of Machiavelli's tomb and emailing it to him. Also, I was super productive between class (and gelato time) and dinner. I typed a header, title, and single sentence of one of my papers. I am an achiever. Dinner was this amazing squash soup, rabbit stuffed with egg, prosciutto, and vegetables, salad, and pears. Pears are apparently in season right now (along with oranges) and boy are they good. After dinner, I packed for Rome, since we leave pretty early tomorrow morning. Productivity!

Thursday, November 15:
Sarah and I left for the train station at 6:50 this morning, our group was on the train by 7:20, and we arrived in Rome at 9:20. What a whirlwind. After checking into the hotel, we walk to the Colosseum and I proceed to geek out for the rest of the morning/most of the afternoon. For a classics student, this is gold. Our guide, Angela, takes us to the basement level of the Colosseum and then to the upper level where tourists are not allowed, all the while talking about gladiators and ancient Rome, and emperors, and the controversies and scandals that accompany such things. I was in heaven. We broke for lunch (which was a bag lunch from my host mom) and then met up with Angela again to walk the Capitoline Hill and ancient Forum. SO MANY RUINS. Afterwards, Jodie and Gail took us on a short walking tour (optional, so some people went back to the hotel) which included gelato at Giolitti's (chocolate and red currant for me), Santa maria sopra Minerva, the Pantheon, and the Piazza with the four rivers fountain. Then Isa, Gretchen, Ian, and I looked around for dinner. We ended up in Campo dei Fiori, where there are a million restaurants and a million more waiters, trying to get you to eat at their restaurant. We ended up scoring some free prosecco simply because we chatted with the lady hawking food in front of the restaurant we ended up eating at. After dinner, Isa, Ian, and I walked to the Trevi Fountain (which was actually a bit of a hike), which was beautiful and worth it. Also, going late at night seemed to be the thing to do... there were still people around, but much fewer than there are during the day (as we found out later). We made wishes, threw in coins, and took pictures.

Friday, November 16:
It's Vatican day! We were up early again for breakfast in the hotel (which was much heartier than normal Italian breakfast), where I had pastries, and cereal, and fruit, and some of the best orange juice ever. We walked as a group over to Castel Sant'Angelo (and our first view of the Tiber) before entering Vatican City. We went through security (yes, there's a security checkpoint) then walked through St. Peter's Basilica, which is gorgeous and huge and unbelievably extravagant and oh my gosh Bernini. We came back outside to find the square was closed for a special VIP (no one was allowed in, so we were lucky we made it before the VIP). We found out later it was the President of the Ivory Coast. Cool! We walked around the piazza to get to the super secret back entrance of St. Peter's for our tour of the Necropolis. AHHHH. There were Swiss guards and security checkpoints and a guided tour of the Necropolis. Holy crap. We were split into three groups for the tour, since there was no way all of us could get through all at once. There are too many of us. My group's guide happened to be a graduate student from Texas. Small world. We looked at ancient tombs, St. Peter's memorial (built by Constantine), and then saw Peter's bones in a very small box in the heart of the Necropolis. It was surreal. Our guide read from Matthew 16:13-20 (Peter's confession of faith) while we were standing there, looking at the bones, and I seriously got goosebumps. It was one of those moments when I could hardly believe that this was real life. Wow. After our tour, we had some time to kill, so Megan and I went back into the Basilica to marvel at Bernini and take pictures. We also almost snuck back into the crypt, but decided that might be a poor decision. On our to the next group meeting point I grabbed some loaded veggie pizza (which was delicious, but strangely salty) and then we met up with Jodie at the Vatican Museum. We divide into two groups this time and I went with Gail for a highlight tour of the museum. We saw the Laocoon statue and a bunch of other ancient stuff before going through the rooms of Raphael and the Sistine Chapel. Now here's the kicker: we got kicked out of the Sistine Chapel. The guards determined that out of all the tourists who were in there and were talking, we were the most threatening, so we were told we had to leave. They got a little mean about it too. That ended our tour, so Isa, Gretchen, Ian, and I went back to look at more ancient art. We hit up the Egyptian collection (because I probably would have pitched a fit if we hadn't) and I... get this... found a mistake. Two of the items were incorrectly labeled, which is easy to fix, but the fact that there was a mistake at all kind of upset me. We met up with Megan as the museum was closing and headed back to Giolitti's for more gelato (pear, cinnamon, and chocolate this time). Dinner happened, but we were all so tired that we didn't really do much. I did have really good tiramisu though.

Saturday, November 17:
Today was our free day. Most people used it as a chance to do homework, but I took Jodie up on her offer of optional walking tours. We started at Villa Farnesina, which was a "pleasure house" in it's time, which is exactly what it sounds like. After exploring the garden and looking through all the frescoed rooms, we were free to do as we pleased. I ended up grabbing lunch at a bakery near the hotel and going to the Four Rivers fountain to watch the others draw. Most everyone in the program is in the drawing class and their weekly homework is to draw certain buildings, statues, fountains, etc. around Florence. However, since their teachers knew we were going to Rome, they assigned a certain part of the Four Rivers fountain. Hence, people were drawing. I ended up doing a drawing of my own too (the only one I'll do this semester) but it wasn't too fancy. The next walking tour was supposed to be to St. Peter in the Chains to see Michelangelo's tomb of Julius II, but they were prepping for a concert and had closed the church without notice. So that was kind of a bust. However, we segued to San Clemente, which was cool. San Clemente is a church built on top of a church built on top of a church built on top of a temple. So that's pretty exciting. They've opened up the basement (crypt level) so that people can view the remains of the other buildings. Awesome. The mosaics inside were incredible but then going downstairs and seeing the ancient sarcophagi was even better. Jeez. After San Clemente, a small group of us walked to the Trevi fountain again and then to the Spanish steps. Both crowded. We then walked the street in front of the Spanish steps, which is like Designer Way. Think a combination of Champs Elysees and 5th Ave in New York. That was this street. I felt out of place but thankfully was well dressed enough that I could go into these big designer stores (boutiques?) and act snooty and not be totally looked down upon. So that was fun.

Sunday, November 18:
Since we were leaving in the afternoon, our morning was spent rushing around getting packed up again and taking our bags to the hotel's storage room. We then took another optional tour of the Capitoline Museum. It was super exciting for me because it was, again, dream world for a classics student. However, I had trouble keeping up with the group because I kept stopping to look at everything (and in my mind, give things the attention they deserved); at one point Jessika, Caitlin, and I got completely separated from the group and spent 20 minutes trying to figure out where they had gone. When we got back together with them someone asked if we had gotten lost, to which I replied "oh no we weren't lost. We knew exactly where we were, we just had no clue where you were" which was exactly the case. We grabbed lunch quickly (but at a sit down place, so it was all good) before getting on our bus back to Florence. We had a stop at the Villa Borghese, where we toured the Galleria Borghese and  I had another "Holy Crap Bernini" moment. Rather, moments. There's a lot of Bernini in there. We then took the bus back to Florence, ate dinner (meal -the grain- with vegetables, sauteed liver, veggies burgers, raw carrots, delicious green beans, and pears), skyped with my parents, uploaded photos, and told myself that I should blog.

So there... another week!


  1. I am impressed with how you manage to make every moment of your trip count...taking advantage of extra lectures and opportunities. What a colorful week for you! And are an achiever for real :) You are coming home soon and then all of us reading your adventures will miss your blog. )So you will just have to travel some more!) Val

  2. The blog has been tremendous, Anna. You have done us all a big favor by taking time to post your impressions, keen observations, daily life and special highlights. Wonderful photography and writing, too. Thank you! Mary Jo