Sunday, July 11, 2010

Italy, Part II: Rome!

Roma, Roma, Roma! I can not say enough about this city, and the amazing time I had while I was there. I love Rome. Really.

First, I need to take the time and say how blessed I was with great roommates on the whole London, Paris, and Italy trip. Some places were better than others in this area (Paris was the best!), but at least all my roomies were honest with my stuff. I thought I booked hostels with security lockers, but all of them were places you have to provide your own padlock, or could only lock it in a general area. Thus, I did not lock up my stuff in any place I stayed. Yep. I put stuff under my bed and just hoped... and my stuff all remained safe. I give the credit to honesty and prayer... so a shout out to honest roommates... and prayer.

Another thing I have to talk about from the overall trip is my tan. Yea! I got a hot tan startin' out there and I'm hoping by laying out two or three times a week here, that tan will continue. I look so much hotter when I'm brown... truth.

Now, on to Rome! I was in the actual city for about four days and then headed mid-Sunday to Ostia, a beach outside of the city. Both the city and the beach had their pros and cons, but I had a good time in each location. I was VERY glad I spent my last two days on the beach, just chillin', tanning, and enjoying a different culture – very “San Diego-ish” to me. So, let's talk about specifics from my adventure!

When I got to the city, via train, I was BEYOND excited! I walked straight to my hostel and it was only about five minutes from the main station, which was great. The hostel that I stayed in was called Legends, and let me just tell you, I loved it! It was clean, and I got RIGHT into my room. They include breakfast AND dinner in your price for a bed if you'd like them, and they're actually decent meals. I met some great people there while I watched the World Cup games in the evenings over dinner – that was perfection.

Anyway, the city of Rome is SO vast and contains SO much to see, but I somehow squeezed what I wanted to do into four days and still had time to chill out and read in the park, eat gelato, and stroll through places NOT on my original list. The first day I got there, Italy was playing in the World Cup, so that afternoon (after a morning of seeing the Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain, Santa Maria del Popolo and Popolo Piazza) I found a little trattoria around Piazza Novona and asked for some of their famous lasagna and brushetta... Um, AMAZING. Simply said, it was the best meal I [randomly] had in all my time in Italy. Oh, so yummy! The game was fun to watch there too because it wasn't near the touristy area, and I was the ONLY American there. It watched with thirty Italians in the little place -screaming and yelling at the screen right along with them. It was great! One of the girls there sat and chatted with me a bit, and gave me tips on HER favorite parts of Rome that were off the beaten track. That turned out to be a HUGE blessing later on...

That evening, I headed back toward the Pantheon and checked that out before heading back to my hostel. The Pantheon in the most in-tact building there from ancient times – very well-preserved. It was cool to see, but not my favorite thing in Rome... That came later!

Friday, was day two in the city, and I dedicated the day to the Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Palatine Hill. WOW. The Colosseum is HUMONGOUS and so incredible. I took a ton of pictures and read all the signs... It was really neat to see. I was SO glad I didn't rush through. It was nice too because, as much as I wouldn't get a Roma Pass next time, it was nice to skip the lines to get in (which weren't that bad, actually). I imagined the movie Gladiator while there too... Oh, Russell Crowe. Haha!

After the Colosseum, I spent HOURS out in the sun just wondering through the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill! It was AMAZING. I didn't want to pay for a tour, so I wondered around and listened in on peoples tour when I would hear something interesting. Haha! I know, I cheated the system a bit... but I was okay with it. I learned some really cool stuff, and it was nice to hear different stories from different people. You could tell the people who really knew their stuff and the ones that seemed newer at the whole guide thing. Haha!

I heard stories about Caesar and the beginnings of democracy. I learned about Caesar's desires to be accepted and the time he brought giraffes in for show, which was a huge deal with how foreign they were. I learned about laws, and how most of the time things weren't set in stone... It was a lot more wishy-washy than today, which I knew. However, there is so much that needs to be done to improve ours, but it was definitely a huge improvement from their democracy. Just sayin'... They would tie people in bags with rabid cats and throw them into the sea over little infractions. Yea. And, just like today, if you knew the right people, you could often walk. Some things never change, I suppose.

Sidenote for Shakespeare: Dear Billy Shakes, when you wrote Julius Caesar, you were wrong about where the death took place. I know you were trying to add dramatic effect, but I feel the need to clarify. Julius Caesar's death took place not at the Capitol building, and not the Theater of Pompey. It's okay – you're amazing. Thus, we forgiveth thee.

When I had roamed all of the Roman Forum (good word choice, huh?), I wondered back along a side path that wrapped around the entire area and wound up in Palatine Hill. I think I was suppose to go back through with my Roma Pass, but I was in for free on it anyway, so I just kept going. I was kind of confused as to how I got there without a check-point, since it's listed as two different places, but... I did, so that's that. That was cool too, and I wondered around there until later in the afternoon – definitely worth the time and money to see! It's cool to think about the years of history that went down there.

Anyway, after words I was tired and just wanted to get some gelato and take some chill time. However, Victor Emmanuel II's memorial building (SO beautiful) was right there... So I took a gander. It was magnificent and huge, but the things inside were all about the Italian armies and held little to no interest for me. So, I walked slowly through and then headed toward the Trevi Fountain to hit up a gelato place a friend had told me about. There were two specific places I had to hit while I was there, and both were no let down. Haha!

I got some gelato, sat down and ate it, and then headed back to my hostel to catch a nap before dinner and the World Cup game. Another great day in Rome! Beautiful...

Saturday I planned to take the advice of that girl I had met at the Italian restaurant. She grew up in Rome and said that the walk along the water on the Southern part of Rome is actually really beautiful. I had no intention of going over there, but decided I would do that in the morning and walk up to the Castle Sant' Angelo from there. It was heaven... I found my favorite part of Rome in that walk... I mean, there were tons of cool moments in Rome and five “favorite things” to see, but this was my favorite area, by far. I was amazed by the trees along the river and the little back-streets that were less touristy. I found myself just enjoying the walk. They call the area “Little Sicily,” so if Sicily is anything like that, I MUST go before I die. Haha!

After my walk up and around the river, I headed to the gates of the Vatican City just to take outside pictures (I wasn't going till Sunday). I wondered the area a bit, trying to find this specific gelatoria that Sarah had told me about numerous times, and swore by. I had no luck at first finding it because I wasn't sure how far to follow the Vatican wall and kept turning to look at other things – haha! Eventually, I just went to the Castle Sant' Angelo and had a great time looking around there. I got some cool shots of the city and enjoyed myself, but it wasn't a must-see in my mind going. I've seen so many castles... but this one was more of a fortress, so it was different and cool.

Afterward, I ventured back toward the Basilica and after asking around, found Old Bridge Gelatoria! Haha... It's a good thing I did too, because it's closed on Sundays and I wouldn't have gotten any if I had waited till the next day to search. Sarah is right... It was PRETTY amazing! Haha... That and Blue Ice had my favorite gelato in Rome. Oh, gelato in general... How I will miss you. I'm sure my thighs will not though...

That afternoon, I found a sports bar to watch the World Cup game and got some mediocre cannelloni... Don't order nice stuff in Italian sports bars. Stupid me. Well, the game was good though and it was just nice to chill and have a place to relax after so much “go-go-go” time. I spent the evening reading and then watching soccer with people at the hostel. I also met two girls who I ended up going to the Vatican museum with the next day.

That leads me to... The Vatican! Haha! We wanted to go on Sunday because it was free – the last Sunday for each month is free to the public. We went super early to beat the huge line of people.. We were prepared! Well, we ended up getting in the wrong line and going into St. Peter's first... When we realized what we had done, we decided to see that first and just wait in the line. It turned out to be a two-hour line, but it was fine... Anyway, going to St. Peter's first was great because we met a couple from Florida that knew so much about St. Peter's history. I met them while walking in and I started talking with them randomly... and it was great! The guy ended up being a devote Catholic and knew SO much. He was there in Rome because the leader for his specific congregation in FL was being made an Archbishop and they were taking part in the ceremony and week's events – including a cocktail party in the Sistine Chapel! Yea. So suave... Haha!

The man taught us a lot of the Catholic history and then asked us to attend a Mass later in the week. I would already be gone, or I would have gone to check it out – who cares if I'm not Catholic. Haha! In fact, I told the guy I was Mormon and for moment really thought he was going to shut down and be turned-off to the idea of chatting with me. Sometimes there is a HUGE clash between Mormons and Catholics over anything religious... I think the two religions have KEY differences and many similarities, and we should all just love each other. That's all I'll say on that.

The man's wife pulled back a lot, but he kept chatting and before he left me he said, “By the way, you're guy was our guy for President.” I said, “Oh, Romney! I worked with his campaign – I was really rootin' for him.” The guy said, “Us too, but I think religion got in the way... It's sad because he would have done a great job.” I agreed and then he thanked me for being so engaged and interested in his beliefs... it was cool. I felt an understanding was made and I hope that as generations continue to grow we can learn to share beliefs and accept that there are differences.

After the Basilica, we waited in the MONSTER line for two hours before we got through to the museum. My only regret from the trip was doing that on Sunday, because we were rushed through the place (it was only open till 12:30pm!) and I didn't really see much. (The picture to the right is The Trinity Painting.) I DID take a good chunk of time in the Sistine Chapel though. I wasn't going to let anyone push me out there... I didn't care if I was in there for free... I moved around the people as they cleared groups out and stayed to stare at the ceiling and walls, and just take time to marvel. It's amazing that Michelangelo was SO young when he really did amazing things in his “profession.” He did the David when he was 26. He did the Sistine Chapel in his late 20s and early 30s, and it took him six years. PLUS, he was brilliant in the sciences too – a student of anatomy. There was an article released right before I went to Rome that my mom sent me about John Hopkin's and scientific discovery that Michelangelo hid the the human brain and brain stem in the neck and beard of God!

It was cool because I went with the knowledge and then actually got to see it! I snapped a few pictures undercover (you weren't suppose to), but they aren't the greatest quality.... I mean, that's what I get for taking an un-legit picture. Haha! It really was SO cool to see...

After the wondrously fast walk through the place, me and the girls I was with stopped for lunch on the outside lawn area and then headed to grab gelato before I headed out to the beach for the last day and a half in the Rome area! It was sincerely the perfect way to end the time out... but I'll get to that!

We wanted to hit up Old Bridge again, but found out that it was closed... So we just walked until we came to another gelatoria – so not far. Haha! We ended up chatting with the owner for a little bit and his family. He father owns a bakery across the way and he was in there talking with his son. The dad and I tried to talk, but he doesn't know English, so the granddaughter and son translated a bit. I was telling him how great gelato is, but it's gonna make a big woman bigger – haha! He replied. “Big is beautiful – many women could do with your confidence.” It was nice cause it wasn't a creepy Italian guy hitting on me, it was a genuine and simple comment from a family man. It was just a good moment – very cute.

Well, that was Rome in a nutshell! However... There's still one more thing to address – Ostia! Virtually, it's a part of Rome, so we can lump it together, but I think I'll separate it out because this entry is already ridiculously long. Thus, in the next week there will be one last entry about Italy, “Part III: Ostia!”


Song of the Day: One of my best friend, Sarina, is getting married next month and I was looking at her wedding website today... Well, last year when we were in Hawaii I made a little jam mix on my Ipod to have for the car - Recall our glorious convertible? Yea... I miss that car. Haha! Anyway, there was a song on there that we LOVED and Sarina put it as one of her and her fiance's songs. So, here is one of my favorite songs by Chris Rice called "When Did You Fall (In Love With Me)," now permanently dedicated to Sarina and Christian! So gut! Enjoy!


Mike said...

I know I keep saying this...but I'm so jealous of you right now! :-) But I'm really happy for you to get all these awesome experiences. I want to be Linze when I grow up. But a man version.

Ash and Matt said...

Linz, you took some AMAZING pictures of Rome! I wish I'd thought to look up and take that picture of the light coming through in St. Peter's Basilica. Oh well, guess I'll just have to steal yours haha :-) Isn't Rome amazing, though? I LOVED it and would go back in a heartbeat (who wouldn't?!). That Little Sicily area looks beautiful. What a great local tip!