For the past 3 days I have been caught in an endless cycle. I've been avoiding updating this blog because it had been so long, I had too much to write about. However, the longer I put it off, the more stuff I now have to write. Well, here goes nothing!
Since Monday and Tuesday of last week were just classes, let's start with Wednesday! Wednesday here is Rome have become my adventure day. My only class is in the morning and it is always on site somewhere in the city. So basically, I have the entire day to get lost in Rome. And I am very good at getting lost :)
This particular day, though, a few of my friends from Holy Cross and I decided to go explore the Vatican. If I was impressed by seeing the outside of St. Peters, I was completely floored by the inside. The art itself was spectacular, such as Michelangelo's Pietá, and many other paintings, mosaics, and statues. See for yourself:
Even more amazing than the art, however, was the feeling you get walking through the door. I'm not sure how it is for other people, but I am Catholic and I take my faith pretty seriously. So walking into basically the heart of the Catholic Church was like getting smacked in the face with the Spirit. It almost brought me to tears and definitely took my breath away. It's just amazing to see people from all over the world coming together at this one special place. Praying at Pope John Paul II's grave (or altar in front of his grave) was especially powerful.
Painting in front of John Paul II's grave
After the Vatican, we went to a small bar, aka coffee shop, to make a game plan. After I made friends with the lady making my hot chocolate, we decided to walk around and explore until some of our other friends met us near the Pantheon for dinner. One thing's for sure, when you wander around a city like Rome, you see some pretty interesting things. Like this
We eventually found our way to Via del Corso, which is Rome's version of 5th Avenue. Brian, one of the people in the group, wound up buying some shoes. We walked past the Parliament building, which was completely blocked off and crawling with police officers. While trying to investigate, I wound up having a conversation with a cop named Massimo from Bologna. Apparently the taxi drivers, who had been on strike for the past 2 weeks, were having a protest. Yay. On the plus side, I apparently know more Italian than I though I did, because Massimo and I had an entire conversation. Mostly a mixture of broken Italian and broken English, but a conversation all the same! I'm quite proud.
Friends eventually showed up at the pantheon (an hour late, mind you, but who's counting?) and we went to this whole in the wall place for pizza. It was Sicilian style, so it was a thick crust. All I can say is those Sicilians really know a thing or two about making pizza! After visiting the "place you have to go to while in Rome" gelato place, we headed back to campus. Just a side note for anyone planning to eat Italian gelato soon: banana and lemon gelato flavors do not go well together.
At this point, I realize I am failing with my attempt to keep this blog short, so I'm going to try to be a bit more succinct now. Ready, go!
This past weekend was our orientation study trip to the region of Campania. We left ridiculously early Friday morning. I found my way onto the Sunshine Yellow bus, which turned out to be the best bus ever! Though I didn't know that at first because it was 7 IN THE MORNING! After I slept for the majority of the 3 hour drive there, I began to appreciate Professor Evers and his group sing-a-longs of "You are my Sunshine" and "Take me Out to the Ballgame". We also blasted music ranging anywhere from current music, to 80's pop and rock, to Dean Martin. There were many dance parties. We also received impromptu history lessons. According to Professor Ever, who is from the Netherlands, everything we saw, from Greek and Roman temples to mozzarella, was taken from the Dutch. Absolutely everything. What a goof!
After the tour, we had lunch and got back on the road. We reached our hotel in Salerno that night and after dinner (which included some of the best white wine I've ever had), a few of us went out to explore! Pre dinner exploration resulted in basically shopping and wandering in the rain. The Christmas lights were still up and it was spectacular! Unfortunately though, camera battery was still dead. I'll work on stealing other people's pictures from facebook, don't worry. Post dinner explorations, a really nice group of Italians led us to an Irish pub (in Italy, so weird!) and we got a drink. Stephanie and I decided to leave after that, with our desire for sleep much stronger than the desire to drink more, so we headed back to the hotel. One thing is for sure, the Italian people are a very vocal people. I think we tallied it up to about 9 cat calls by the time we got to the hotel, including a group of boys who yelled "Che bella! Bella Americana!" at us for about 2 blocks. Italy definitely knows how to boost a girl's ego haha!
The next day, we went to the Caseificio Vannulo Mozzarella di Bufala, a farm where they make buffalo mozzarella. Speaking as a Wisconsin girl, cows have got nothing on buffalo when it comes to mozzarella! So good!
Outside one of Hera's Temples
Hannah, looking mighty!
After the temples, we got lunch at a small place in Agropoli. While the food was cosí cosí, what was really cool was the entertainment. The people at the restaurant put on a show for us, playing music, singing songs, and dancing! We even danced with them. I now know why Italians can eat all those carbs and still stay skinny! We then explored Agropoli and saw an amazing sunset and oh yeah...a castle! A castle we got to go into and climb on. I was like a kid in a candy store
What a view!
|Storming the Castle!|
what a view
After going out again in Salerno, we checked out of the hotel and headed to Sarento. Our bus driver deserves a medal, by the way. Small italian hill streets plus a big coach bus equals very tricky driving. The police actually had to close off the street for us to get down the hill! We eventually made it to Il Convento, a convent that is also a farm. They make olive oil, organic mozzarella, and limoncello. Lots of limoncello. It tastes like someone soaked a lemon head in vodka. Delicious, tart, but very strong.