The next part of my Fall break (from my classes at the Sorbonne if you missed my first post about my vacation in Athens) involved a Ryanair flight to Rome, which if you’ve heard of the famed budget airline, was not actually that bad! We immediately dropped our bags off at the hostel, (which had suprisingly given us a free upgrade to a private room so essentially we were paying 25 euros a night for a hotel!) and walked past this thing:
before heading to our first meal in Italy…
I inhaled it.
Next we wandered around the Colosseum for a little bit getting to see the other half of the ancient world. (first half = Greece)
Then we walked around the area, stopping by the Pantheon and souvenir shopping before grabbing dinner at a pizza place:
Then we dropped by Castel Sant’Angelo to relive Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons. (without the grisly murders of course) I highly recommend the book, but not the movie.
That night we suffered from Rome’s 2 line only metro system and had to walk all the way back to our hostel. But there was a 5 star Yelp rated gelato place on the way which made everything better.
This was where I realized that I could never live in Italy. When I was deciding what to order I made it very clear to the vendor that I was allergic to nuts. He assured me that there were no nuts in his favorite flavor and let me sample it. It tasted fantastic so I asked for a scoop of it and a scoop of cookies and cream. Of course, even the vendor didn’t realize that Italians even put nuts in their cookies and cream gelato. Stupid biscotti. I had my medicine on me though and got some new gelato after explaining to the woman at the register that I would actually die if I ate the gelato. Thank goodness I never go anywhere without Benadryl!
The next day we woke up bright and early and beat the crowd into St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, but then had to wait an hour and a half to see the Sistine Chapel:
The entire museum was just a massive river of people pushing through hallways full of art to get to the Sistine Chapel. The museum itself wasn’t actually enjoyable because of that, but the Sistine Chapel was stunning.
Then we checked out Yelp again for places to eat in the area and before we knew it we were sitting down at a restaurant that had “cheek fat” pasta on the menu. I blame poor translation.
We spent the rest of the day wandering through souvenir shops and various stately monuments for one thing or another. That’s the thing that struck me most about Rome. Rome was big and flashy in the classical sense. Everywhere you turned there was a new, majestic monument. I loved it! If only their transportation system was as advanced as the metro in Paris -I’ve been spoiled!
We had our daily dose of gelato from Grom, an Italian chain that is superb.
Then we headed back to the Pantheon for some Italian caffeine in the form of a 1.10 euro Latte Macchiatto. If it wasn’t for my nut allergy, the coffee alone would be reason enough for me to move to Italy. In Paris a decent latte costs around 5 euros!
I only wished they had large sizes because after I scooped the delicious froth out with my spoon I was like:
That was it for Rome and the next day we took a train to Florence and said hi to Fake David…
Before heading to the famous deli All’Antico Vinaio that made me the best sandwich I have ever eaten in my life. When I stepped inside the friendly man behind the counter asked me what I wanted and I told him that I had absolutely no idea, but that I’d heard that their truffle sauce was good.
“Have you ever tried truffles?” he asked.
“No,” I said slightly ashamed, shaking my head. I don’t think I’d ever even seen it on a menu.
He cut me a piece of bread and slathered some truffle sauce on it. “Here try this and tell me what you think.”
It was a unique flavor, but delicious and I told him so. He then proceeded to make a sandwich putting in what he thought was best.
That entire sandwich only cost 5 euros. Totally made my day.
After that we headed into the Uffizi Galleries where I hung out with Botticelli and my favorite painting. (The Birth of Venus) Then we climbed the top of the Duomo’s bell tower where I was gifted with this magnificent view:
If you haven’t noticed by now, gelato is to us what pie is to Dean Winchester. If it was ever nearing the end of a day where we hadn’t eaten gelato, the group would get antsy and start to look like this:
We stopped by a cafe before dinner because the restaurant didn’t even open until 7 (silly Italians) and I ordered a macchiato expecting the typical tall, milky, coffee beverage and getting this instead:
A quick Google search later and I’d received my first lesson on Italian coffee. What I had just ordered was indeed a macchiato because an American macchiato (Starbucks caramel macchiato anyone?) is actually a latte macchiato, but we usually drop the “latte” when ordering.
When the restaurant finally opened I had some delicious ragout for dinner:
That was the end of day one in Florence and we headed back to our hostel too exhausted to even think about the supposed Turkish bath they had in the basement. Next time Florence, next time.
Stay tuned for the other half of Florence and then Venice: aka more pasta, gelato, and coffee!
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