Get it? I know…I’m punny 🙂 I’m sorry for the lateness of this post but….travelling Europe got in the way!
Last week’s European excursion was to Rome! Now, as an Italian, I loved every second of it. Never having been to the “mother country”, regardless of the fact that my family is not from Rome, I was in awe of everything we saw, did and ate.
Once again, we had a crazy late flight but managed to get to our hostel by using a map and our brainpower. Very impressive. On our first day, we toured the Ancient City. What an experience! It’s one thing to do reports and dioramas on the ancient ruins but to see them up close and personal is an entirely different story. We first went to the Forum… and a Funny Thing Happened On The Way! If you don’t understand that reference, please click here. After we toured the Forum, we saw the arc of Titus. Then, of course, came the Colosseum. For me, history came to life when we walked inside. A lot of people told me that the Colosseum was smaller than they expected but I thought it was a nice size for a massive arena that people came to for entertainment. What did surprise me was the pit — my entire life I thought the massive pit in the middle of the arena was where the battles took place, but actually there is a raised stage where they took place. The pit had stone walls that create a maze, where the animals must have been let loose. But I totally didn’t know that. There was a moment when I emerged out of one of the gates into the bright sun and felt like Russell Crowe in Gladiator. All day, I was in shock about the architecture and Roman rituals back in the day. I really can’t express in words how cool this was….I feel like this happens with my blog posts. I’m sorry, but bear with me. Regrdless, it was really awesome.
The next day, we went to Vatican City. LITERALLY ONE OF THE COOLEST PLACES I HAVE EVER BEEN TO! And being Catholic totally amplified the experience and I definitely felt closer and more connected with my faith, which was needed. [In no way is this supposed to be a missionary post, just so y’all know] When we first arrived to St. Peter’s Basilica, we weren’t allowed to go inside. When I asked the guard in my broken Italian, he replied that the Pope was inside doing a special mass. #casual. I was in the same vicinity as the Pope. So we strolled over to the Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel and saw that first — and it was student rate! The Museum was cool but the Chapel was unreal. I took art history during my sophomore year and seeing a piece that I actually studied was very, very cool. Especially because I could recite the most important facts about it. The catch about the chapel is that because it’s so old and the every single wall is covered in paintings [including the Gothic arches that look like architecture but they aren’t], so pictures are prohibited. But I don’t do very well with rules….so I sneakily snapped a photo of the ceiling. Smart phones with dual view cameras are super helpful in situations like this 😉
Then we went for lunch and I got real Italian pizza and I was so happy! Italian pizza is as close as I’m going to get NY pizza and it was so delicious but I also got so homesick. I also wouldn’t shut up about the pizza. But the food in Italy was so rich, how could I not talk about it? Between the pizza and directly afterwards, my first gelato excursion, I could’ve eaten there for the rest of my life.
After lunch, we went back to the Basilica. Touring the Basilica is free — shout out for free things! And it’s amazing. I mean, absolutely BREATH TAKING! The intricacies of the architecture and statues is just unbelievable. In the Basilica, I not only saw the whole place but I also stood before Pope John Paul II’s tomb. What an experience as a Catholic to pay respects and be close to a person who was so influential in the Catholic faith. My friends and I did 3 laps around the place because we couldn’t get enough of the awesomeness!
The last thing we did on Day 2 was visit the Trevi Fountain! Another beautiful site and it’s even prettier by nightfall. [We saw the Trevi at least 3 times within 2 days] We all threw coins into the fountain and wished for luck and happiness in the year and all that good stuff. And for dinner, we ate gelato by the fountain and it was adorable.
Day 3! Because we had finished the main attractions in 2 days, this was our day to just chill and do what we wanted. Miso and I went back to the Basilica because we are both Catholic and wanted to hear Pope Francis’ Midday Prayer. We got to the Basilica early and bought rosaries. Then we went inside and got our rosaries [and ourselves!] blessed by a Vatican priest! A very rewarding and calming experience, and once again, I felt closer to my faith. Then it was time to go outside and hear Pope Francis. The rain had stopped finally and he emerged out of the papal window of the Basilica and gave an incredible prayer about being the light in the dark and referred to my favorite Bible passage, “The Parable of Fishers of Men”. All of this was in Italian too, by the way. I wish I could upload the video into this blog post but because I don’t have VideoPress capability [aka I don’t pay for my blog domain name and stuff like that], I can’t. So here’s a picture of Papa Francesco instead!
All in all, Rome was wonderful! People keep asking me if I liked it better than Paris. My answer is that I like it different than I like Paris. Paris had a lot more attractions and we had very full days while we were there but I loved the religious aspects of Rome! Stay tuned for more of my adventures! 🙂