Eternal Bliss

One Silly American in Rome.

Farewell, Flight & Future.

My final Roman adventure!

Today we slept in as much as we could considering that huge market is right outside our window and starts setting up around 5am.  We began the day organizing our things because we went to lunch at a place we really like that had delicious lasagna.  Its too bad I don’t know the names of any of these places… After that we did some meaningless souvenir shopping (I got a turtle magnet :)) and headed to MACRO- museum of contemporary art.  It was such an awesome museum, even the bathroom was a work of art.  Even though it was kinda confusing to get around, we had fun.  I also got a cool book with basically every place we visited in Rome- def a good investment to remember the trip by. 

Next we went back to the apartment to get ready for our farewell dinner (after swimming through the streets of Rome because of the down pour)! I got some bruchetta and pizza ortolana (mixed veggies & mozzarella). It was a delicious way to end the trip.  But, I can not wait to detox from all these carbs I’ve been eating. After we were all done eating, we went around and said why we loved about Rome and the trip and even though it sounds really cheesy it was kinda nice.  I can’t believe this trip went so quickly and I’ve learned so much in such a short amount of time.

After dinner we went back for the really good house flavor of gelato from Frigidarium.  After eating about half.. I dropped mine SPLAT right on the street. Alley, Vicki and Val pretty much died laughing as I stood facing one of my biggest fears (right below getting my hair caught in a fan). This is why I’m not allowed to eat ice cream off cones. I underestimate my strength and break the cone. I was so sad. But then I took Vicki’s and finished hers cause she was so stuffed.  I’m glad I could provide entertainment for the end of the night. 

Now we’re packed and ready to go on our flight at noon.  Can’t wait to get so swollen from being dehydrated for the past 3 weeks.  I’m so sad to leave but now the next chapter in my summer begins.. MUSE/ moving into my house/ turning 21!! I’ve met so many great people on this trip and I am so grateful for the experience! now all I want to do is travel EVERYWHERE and learn EVERYTHING.

Till we meet again, Rome!

Katie.

Val is the best.

Metro, Museums & Miami(?).

Saturday!- last day of class.. how bittersweet.  The day started at San Giovanni in Laterano which is a really huge church.  We were waiting on the wrong side of the church for about 30 mins before we found the rest of the group. oops. The church was actually kinda strange because it burnt down twice and when they rebuilt it, it was in two stages.  So, the front with the high altar doesn’t really match the rest of the church. ugly. But I did like the rows of statutes of martyrs. 

Next stop was the Montemartini Power Plant Museum. yep, Rome decided to display a whole bunch of ancient artifacts inside an old power plant.  It was kinda cool to see the old power equipment too- it was something new and it made the museum more interesting.  We just wished it wasn’t the last thing we did as a group in Rome.  Granted there is still the farewell dinner tonight!

Finding out way home was an adventure because we took the metro there and had no idea where we were- literally off the map.  But we eventually stumbled upon some bus stops (and a huge pyramid) and got home, I was actually proud of us! We’re so good at Rome.  Also now I can say I’ve taken like every form of transportation in Rome- tram, train, bus, taxi, metro..wooo! now to steal a Vespa.

When we were freed we made it home for a super late lunch..4pm and I got a yummy white pizza and then we went to the Spanish Steps to fix my Ferla watch. But, they were stupid and I have to get it fixed when I come home. Back at the apartment, Vicki took a sit and we got ready to go out! We went back to the area that felt like Hoboken on crack with a bunch of cool bars.  We ate at Tony’s apparently a really famous place but we didn’t even go there on purpose.  The Penne Vodka was SO GOOD and they gave us free Limoncello so I can’t complain. The first drink we got Val picked- a Miami Vice… it was blue. that’s all that needs to be said. The bar was like playing remixed disco and had Saturday night fever posters and a disco ball.. LOL. The second drink at a Spanish-y bar was filled with yummy strawberries that came with little baby forks.  The area was so fun, I wish we had a chance to go out in it more!

Now time to pack & enjoy my LAST NIGHT HERE. Flight at Noon!

Katie.

Opera & Outtacontrol.

Friday was a looooong day but in the best way.  We left our residence a little before 10am and got back a little after 10pm. oy!  It started at Trajan’s Market which was really cool because it was ruins that have really stood the test of time and have been converted into a museum.  Throughout the museum there were a lot of artifacts from all the different Emperors.  After that we broke for lunchies and got delicious salads from a place near The Pantheon.  It actually had chicken in it! This is a big deal because it seems that the only meats they eat here are veal and prosciutto. ew. We also went back to a gelato place that had the best peach flavor..mmm. The fruit flavors are always so fresh and delicious. 

After lunch we went to the Pantheon and a couple churches.  The Pantheon was really cool cause from the front you really cant tell it has this awesome dome and circular shape.  Also there’s some crazy thing about the Pythagorean Theorem that applies to the architecture so there are a lot of geometric shapes and everything seems really perfectly designed.  Next was the Column of Marcus Aurelius which kinda looks like Trajan’s Column.  Then we went to San Luigi dei Francsei and Santa Maria del Popolo (mostly just went into the churches to see some Caravaggio paintings, which were awesome, as expected.)

By the time we were done with learning it was about 6:30 and we had tickets to the Opera at 8:30. So me Vicki, Val and Alley ran to a taxi so that we could go back and get caprese salads and eggplant parm and wine from our favorite restaurant. Thank god we made it or we would have been cranky.  The eggplant was made a little differently but still really good.  We took a taxi over to the Opera which was actually in a church (awesome) and was basically a greatest hits of Opera, so I knew a couple! It was insane to be sitting in a medieval church, in Rome at an Opera.. like, who’s life do I live?! 2 of the singers took 2 girls from our group out on stage and danced with them, we were all dying, especially the professors, they loved it.

Can’t believe how fast this trip has gone by.  Its been pretty demanding and sometimes feels like the “trail of tears” as Alley likes to say but I am so glad I’ve had this experience. I wish it wasn’t ending… now to make the best out of our last FREE days!! Rome cats can’t be tamed.

See you soon, America!

Katie.

Villa D’Este

Fountains & Frigidarium.

Today was an excursion day.. we started off at Hadrian’s Villa in Tivoli.  It was huge, these emperors really knew how to live.  It also had a bunch of turtles.. so cute! The second stop was Villa D’Este which is famous for its water gardens aka a bunch of fountains.  So, we spent some time walking around the grounds.. until it rained.  But we saw a good portion of it before we were inside and walking through the rooms covered in frescoes.  On the way home, the bus driver got lost, he was not as awesome as our bus driver over the weekend that did a 25 point turn to get out of a tight spot.  Also we had a tour guide today which was strange because our professors have been leading all the tours up till today.  She was kind of useless.

For dinner, we went back to our favorite neighborhood near Piazza Navona.  I got spinach and ricotta filled crepes SO GOOD. and then we went to Frigidarium for gelatto.  We tried their original flavor there (called Frigidarium) and it was delicious, like a mix of cookies, chocolate and caramel!! 

Now, I have some serious homework to do. w00f. 

Bacci!

Katie.

Michelangelo & Mosquitoes.

Today was all about The Vatican.  We rolled up at 8:30 but couldn’t get into the piazza because its Wednesday and thats when the pope likes to ride around in the popemobile so we met the group right outside and walked over to the Vatican Museum. All I have to say is wow.  The museum is parts of the private collections of many different popes.  We started in a room of pagan art that was closed off to the rest of the museum.  That was pretty cool cause no one else was really there.  Then we made our way over to the picture galley- probably my favorite part (sorry Sistine).  We got to see the Transfiguration by Raphael and my fave, The Entombment by Caravaggio. I’m really hoping I can somehow work Caravaggio into my final paper so I am forced to learn everything I can about him.  We also literally ran over to see the statue Augustus di Prima Porta because I guess the room he was in was closing (debatable). 

After breaking for lunch at the gross cafeteria, for our shortest break yet, we walked around the Belvedere and the Stanze Rooms by Raphael a bit and then made out way over to the Sistine Chapel (!!).  I know I’ve said this a lot but I’ll say it again, I don’t know anything about art history.  I’ve studied different works in the Sistine (ex: The Creation of Adam) but I really had no idea what it looked like.  It was nothing like I was expecting.  It was amazing, there was just so much to look at and absorb I could have stayed there for hours.

Even though today was a “short day” aka 9am-5pm, I enjoyed every minute of it because this is all new to me! These past 2 days have been so long but have really been two of my fave class days because I’m starting to understand and know whats going on.  I even participated twice today haha. 

With our free time we went to the angel bridge right by St. Peter’s and got some tasty gelatto.  For dinner we went to back to Orange (yes that’s the name of the place) across the street and had some delicious pasta with cherry tomatoes, zucchini and eggplant.  And the same great house wine- our favorite house white wine so far.

Now back at the apartment,I’m trying not to scratch my leg off from the 14 bug bites I’ve acquired! I’m just too sweet..

NIGHT!

Katie.

Aurelius & Artichokes.

After our long weekend we had Monday off and you know what that means.. shopping by the Spanish Steps! This is both a good and bad thing.  I bought the most beautiful watch from Furla.  I am very particular about my watches and when I saw the white leather band (something I was searching for for about a year) I was sold.  I know I am going to get good use out of it.  Also Val finally got her Ferla bag she has been pining after for about a week. 

What made the day interesting was the transit strike… I thought it was going to be a lot worse (like that we would not be able to go anywhere) but, it turned out that they have to keep some buses/trams running by law so we caught 2 trams and everything worked out. 

That night Mama Scarfone cooked us dinner!! It was so good and it was wonderful to finally eat chicken and get some protein in my diet.  To top off the wonderful meal we got cannolis and NUTELLA filled pastries. I love nutella and might have to start buying it stateside. 

The problem is that I keep forgetting I am here for an honors level art history course… LOL… so Monday night I stayed up till about 4am completing my site report - a presentation that each person has to give about an assigned place.  I did mine on Bramante’s Tempietto and I think (hope) it went well.  I’m glad its over with.  Now I just have to catch up on the 2 page course commentaries we are supposed to be writing everyday…

The rest of today was very busy.  After my report we visited two churches: San Pietro in Montorio and Santa Maria in Trastevere.  Santa Maria was beautiful.  Something interesting about it was the columns inside the church were taken from other ancient Roman buildings. They like the steal things around here.  Then we saw another arch built buy some silver smiths. c00l. 

Next we went to the Capitoline museum located in of the Campidoglio designed by Michelangelo.  This is one of my favorite areas mostly because of the statue of Marcus Aurelius and the 12 point star on the ground.  The museum itself was built around an ancient temple.  Also there was a part that had a bunch of busts of women and their crazy hair styles on display that was funny.. got some ideas for Formal, ha. Lastly my teacher mentioned Gladiator so I was really attentive whenever we were talking about Marcus Aurelius or Commodus.  I think I am going to watch that movie 2 times a day everyday when I get home for about a month. normal.

After being restless in the museum for hours, we made it over to the Jewish Ghetto (leave it to Vicki to find her people) and got some delish dinner! I had fried artichokes and falafel.  This was the first time I had falafel since Mediterranean night at Eickhoff… I think it goes without saying.. this was WAY better.

I ended the night doing some laundry in the sink and eating nutella with a spoon out of the jar. livin’ the dream.

Peace, Love & Russell Crowe.

Katie.

Off the boat and to the grotto!

Bus & Boats.

Alright, we made it back to Rome alive.  Never have we ever been so excited to see our own apartment.  This excursion was interesting to say the least…

It started on Thursday morning bright and early we got on the bus at 7am (little did we know we would be spending most of the weekend on that very bus).  Our first stop was in a little town called Benevento that houses Trajan’s Arch.  We spent some time walking around there and getting lunch.  Next stop was Naples… a kinda scary city and not what I was expecting at all.  But, there was an archeological museum there which was pretty cool and had a lot of things found in Pompeii.  After that we finally arrived at our hotel in Baia di Puolo. 

At the hotel everything felt damp all the time which made the room kinda smelly and uncomfortable but we were usually so tired at the end of the day it didn’t even matter.  Also, it was beachfront so it had great views and it was nice eating breakfast in the morning overlooking the ocean.  The seafood this weekend was unbelievable except for the fact that they always give you THE WHOLE shrimp.. eyes, claws and everything. yikes.

Friday we were supposed to leave for Pompeii real early but there happened to be a strike that day and ship builders decided to lay down on the road that went from our hotel to Pompeii… so the bus ride ended up being 4 hours instead of 40 minutes. wompp.  When we got there, the site was awesome. Walking around an ancient city like that was such a cool experience.  There were also dogs wandering around that you could adopt.. so cute! At night we wandered Sorrento and had a yummy dinner. 

Saturday we went to Capri, and we hiked.  What we thought was going to be a moderate walk turned out to be pretty much all uphill because I guess that’s what you have to do in order to reach the second highest point on Capri (the amazing views made it kind of worth it).  When we made it up there we saw Villa Jovis- a huge villa built by Tiberius because he pretty much hated everyone and wanted to be alone.  I have to say, good job T because nobody is ever making it up that hill multiple times to visit you.  With our free time we rented a boat!! And we all got to drive it… AHH. With very little training, Vicki, Shannon, James and I took a little boat all the way around the island.  We stopped a couple of times and a bunch of us went swimming in the green grotto! It was one if the coolest things I have ever done.  When the sunlight hit the water it just lit up and we felt like we were in a fairy tale (true story: while in the grotto we were singing little mermaid for a bit).  Despite the motion sickness from the tiny boat we were some how allowed to drive, Capri was an awesome experience. 

Today we stopped at Sperlonga to visit another Tiberius villa which was actually pretty awesome because he situated his dining room so that it looked into a grotto.. intense.  We spent our free time lounging on the beach which felt really nice after having a bunch of early morning and long bus rides.

Happy to be back in Roma :)

Katie.

Pizza & Pigeons.

Today started at Villa Borghese, Rome’s Central Park.  We went to the museum there which in a building where all the rooms are heavly decorated… that Borghese fam loved to party.  The best was seeing Pluto & Persephone, Apollo & Daphne and David by Bernini.  They were all so interesting, I could have walked around each one dozens of times.  We also saw a lot more paintings by Caravaggio!

We walked around the park for a bit and eventually got pizza for lunch… again.  This time mine was with spinach!  We were lovin’ the people next to us from S. Carolina that ordered “water without the bubbles, without the gas & and slice of peperoni pizza”.  It don’t work like that, when you get a pizza, you get the WHOLE thing. Silly Americans.  But karma got me when we were making fun of then cause I stepped over a grate and air blew my dress up, that was embarrassing. 

After lunch we looked at three churches, all very mini but still pretty ornate.  One had a rose colored marble that I thought was cool but then Vicki said it looked like steak so I didn’t like it anymore. 

After sitting near the bus stop watching pigeons for a while (they are very lively here) &  shopping in a bead store, we wanted food.  For dinner we went back to our FAV restaurant near our school, Braciere, with one mission- EGGPLANT PARM.  It was as good as we remembered.  We are probably going to go back at least one more time for that dish. 

Now we’re just spending the night relaxing, reliving the ice bar (woof) and packing for our weekend excursion to Benevento, Naples, Baia di Puolo, Pompeii, CAPRI and Sperlonga!!

Katie.

Paintings & Parkas.

Tuesday started at the mausoleum of Augustus which is right next to the museum of Ara Pacis, basically a huge altar built by Augustus dedicated to peace (even though there seems to be debate over whether its actually the ara pacis).  There seems to be a lot of guessing in art history.  Then we went to a museum in Palazzo Barberini which had two beautiful staircases and a huge collection.  I had my first experience with Judith Beheading Holofernes by Caravaggio (apparently a really big deal).  I actually really like a lot of Caravaggio’s work because its so dark and all the stories behind each painting are really interesting. 

Because I am on this trip with mostly art/ art ed/ art history majors I think its funny that I learn about a lot of paintings for the first time when I see them IN ROME.  How crazy is it that I’m taking my first art history class in Rome.  I can NEVER take one at tcnj now.  Also, a lot of the girls on this trip are living their dreams by seeing paintings they have been studying for years meanwhile I’m sitting there, comm major, seeing many of these things for the first time.  I have to say its pretty awesome. 

For dinner we ate right across from our apartment and I got some pasta with asparagus but the best part was the house white wine. So tasty we had to get two bottles.

At night, things got real.  This was the first time we decided to try and go out out in Rome. We chose to go to the ice bar (yep, we’re tourists) and it was an open bar!  For those who don’t know.. this is a bar of ice.. like the cups, the seats, the walls.. all ice (but no ice toilets.. sad).  We had to wear cape parka things to keep ourselves warm so we looked kinda crazy.  The experience was so weird.  We kept on questioning why the hell are we in a bar of ice??  but at the end of the night we all had a really good time and still wondered but wait.. why were we in a bar of ice. 

To sum up the night, “I blame it on the Roman cats” - Val (apparently cats are a big thing here.. they have their own sanctuary)

GATTI DI ROMA!!, Katie.

Chariots & Cocktails.

Back to work! Today we had the morning free and since we are the best at Rome, Val Vicki Alley and I went to the top of the Vittoriano (a Mussolini building that is quite possibly my favorite because of the awesome chariot statues).  At the top we got a panoramic view of Rome which was absolutely breath taking.  We also made a friend from Russia who sang us a little song while he took our picture.  We did all this while pretty much everyone else was sleeping.  We were so proud.  Then we went back to the place with the really great eggplant panini and got tomato and mozz instead.  We had the same waiter and he remembered us.. this seems to be a theme in Rome.  Everyone picks us out as those American girls but that is to be expected. 

Next we began our day of learning at the Arch of Constantine near the Colosseum.  Then it was a day of churches.  Some of the most magnificent churches I have ever seen.  We started at Santa Maria sopra Minerva which was in the Gothic style (kinda strange for Rome).  We spent a lot of time in that church so we stopped for some gelato and I went for some fruit flavors this time.  The berry and strawberry I got was so good and fresh I don’t know how I will ever go back to normal ice cream. 

The second church was Sant’Ignazio with the most beautiful ceiling I have ever seen.  No picture I could ever take would do it justice.  There is a point in the middle of the church where you can stand and when you look up it feels like the heavens are opening up.  The way the shading is done made it look 3-D.  These churches are so dramatic and beautiful, I don’t know why you would ever want to be a Protestant during the Renaissance (is that offensive?). The last church, Il Gesu, gave me the same impression but this one just had way more GOLD and was actually 3-D on the ceiling with figures popping outta the ceiling.  It is insane the artistic talent some people have. 

The church hopping lasted way longer than expected and we had a 2 hour break for dinner before the fountain walk at 8:30.  We ended up finding a really good restaurant that ended up being our most expensive meal (at 15 euro, for me.)  But I think it was worth it for my Linguine with mushrooms in a creamy sauce.. yumm.  We ended up being early to the Triton fountain and stopped in for happy hour at a bar across the street.. Val’s idea.. duh.  I got a BarBerini, a play on words and also a super tasty cocktail.  However, we had less time then we thought and had to have a “5 minute cocktail” as we like to call it.  Good planning.

So when it was finally time for the fountain walk, we were tired but it was still awesome cause everything looks great illuminated.  We ventured from Triton to the Spanish Steps to THE TREVI & ended in Pizzza Novona.  An amazing way to end the night.

12 hour days.. gotta love em.

Katie.

Storms & Shopping.

Yay for more days off! 

Right outside our apartment today there was the biggest market in Europe waiting for our Euros.  We were looking forward to buying a lot of fruits and veggies but ended up not being able to find any food, womp.  The market overall was reminiscent of China Town in NYC… very overwhelming and kinda dirty but still an interesting experience.  I ended up getting a pretty scarf (that came in handy later…)

We were a little bit lost for a while in the market (it was just SO BIG). Toward the end we were getting really delusional and hungry so when we finally made it out we stopped for lunch and I got a great salad with avocado and pear.  Next we traveled for a totally different shopping experience near the Spanish Steps.  Its where all the high end designer stores are… we were window shopping the hell outta those streets.  We also found what we think to be the equivalent of forever 21/ Urban here, Zara which had some really cute stuff at relatively reasonable prices.  The best part of the day was going into Furla where Vicki, Val, Alley and I all basically fell in love with something we couldn’t afford but bought it anyway (except Val but she’ll be goin back).  I got a gorgeous wallet with a pretty flower on the clasp :) 

Next we got caught in a rain storm which was pretty awful but I was proud that we were able to make it home on public transportation even though we really wanted to take a taxi.  This is when the scarves we bought came in handy cause we refused to buy umbrellas from all the street vendors who magically appear to sell umbrellas when it rains. 

For dinner we finally tried a place that always looked super packed. I got some great eggplant pizza.  All in all, there are some characters in Rome but I guess you find that in any city.  Also, Rome smells pretty funky when it rains.  They need to work on that.

Katie.