Sunday, February 7, 2010

When in Rome...

Rome was amazing. I have to say, I was surprised at the amount that we were able to see in just three days. We left with the program on Thursday morning and got back to the villa around 9:00 Saturday night. I won't go into too much detail because the videos will be going up soon, but I wanted to give an overview of what we did and saw, and include some information on places I would definitely recommend stopping at when/if you visit Rome.

We did a guided walking tour of the city on Thursday; we saw the Roman Forum, the spot where Caesar's body was cremated, August Caesar's Basilica, Palatine Hill, the Colosseum, the Pantheon, and Bernini's fountain of the four rivers (which was right by our hotel! but unfortunately the water wasn't in it...they were doing some sort of restoration or cleaning). The weather was perfect! I underestimated how much warmer it would be in Rome. We finished around 7:00 and found a place to have dinner then went back to see the Colosseum at night.

On Friday we spent the morning at the Vatican...we were there from 8:30 until about 2:00. We saw the whole thing, but we had to go through fairly quickly--it was huge! One thing I would recommend though: we went straight to the Sistine Chapel when we got there and spent about 30 minutes there. It was great because there were maybe 30 people, so it was silent and there were a ton of seats open so we could see everything. We then went back through and saw the rest of the Vatican museum and when we left through the Sistine chapel at around 1:30 it was completely packed and everyone was talking. We could barely get through the crowd...I was definitely glad that we had gone to see it first. Also, there is an unmarked doorway at the far end of the Sistine chapel, and if you go through it and down the stairs you come out into St. Peter's Basilica. Otherwise you have to exit Vatican city and go all the way around to get back into St. Peter's.

After Vatican city a group of us wandered around until we were mostly out of the touristy area and found this little restaurant called Antica Taverna ( The food was fantastic and very cheap. We spent a while there and then started making our way towards the Spanish Steps. On the way we stumbled upon the best gelato place I have ever been to (Gelateria Della Palma Via della Maddalena 20)...I think they had 20 variations of just chocolate. We then went to the Spanish Steps, took some pictures and finished the day with the Trevi Fountain.

Yesterday we spent the morning walking around Rome. We saw the small island in the middle of the Tiber river (the smallest inhabited island in the world!). It was, in fact, very tiny, but we found a little super-authentic cafe that I would definitely recommend. I don't remember what it was called but you really can't miss it. We went back to the Trevi Fountain and the Pantheon, and just explored the city before leaving at 2:00 with the group to go see the Villa Borghese. We had the same tour guide that had taken us around Rome on Thursday; she was really great! The villa was amazing--there were soo many fantastic works of art in the gallery. We spent 2 hours there and it felt like maybe 20 minutes. After that we took the bus back to Sesto and went to sleep. It was a long weekend, but definitely worth it.

Tonight we're going to see our first soccer game in Florence! AFC Fiorentina is playing Rome, so it should be a pretty cool experience.


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