Where to start?! Well I guess I could start by saying Happy New Years! I hope everyone had an amazing start to their year. I know that I had probably the best one yet (but don’t many of us say that every year?).
Two weeks ago, on December 23rd I made the trek to Europe! I have been out of the country before, but just to Mexico and Canada a few times. While not trying to minimize those trips, travelling to Canada (at least the parts I have been to) feels a lot like a slightly cleaner and friendlier version of the United States. And going to Mexico, I don’t think I was really experiencing real Mexican culture most of the time I was there. It was spent on resorts and in towns that are designed for tourists. So, you could say I was excited. First, because I was going to get to see my husband for Christmas AND New Years and second because I was going to.. ITALY!!
My first impression of Italy, was not what I had imagined all these years. I’m not quite sure what I was expecting, but I wasn’t expecting what I got. I flew into Naples, and to put it lightly.. it’s not the cleanest place in the world. Don’t get me wrong, there were beautiful areas with wonderful architecture but a lot of it was very dirty, old, and I felt like I didn’t want to be there anymore.
My second day in Italy was Christmas! Zack and I woke up early and took the high speed train (we went 300km/hr!) to Rome. I knew a lot of things probably wouldn’t be open because it was Christmas but I thought that it might also mean streets could be empty and free for me to soak in the culture as I pleased. Our first stop was the Colosseum.
WOW. It wasn’t open so we could only walk around the outside but I honestly thought that would be okay. To see this structure that is almost 2000 years old, and walk in the same space that gladiators and ancient Roman thinkers walked around was amazing. From there we walked along tons of buildings that I don’t know what they are because they were all closed but still beautiful to look at.
A little after noon, Zack decided we should go to the Vatican even though it might be closed. My number 1 desire for this trip was to go to the Sistine Chapel and see the ceiling. I studied art in college so it was my dream to see this in real life. We grabbed a taxi and when we arrived we saw something was happening. We aren’t positive, but we think we missed the Pope (or as our cab driver and the Romans apparently call him Papa) addressing the square by about 20 minutes. The bells were ringing, news reporters everywhere, we saw a parade of a bunch of guards (military? police?) exiting the square. It was very cool. And St. Peter’s square is so cool to stand in and just see these colossal pillars and basilica surrounding you.
Later that evening we strolled some of the streets away from the super touristy area and found a little restaurant open for dinner and had some prosciutto and mozzarella and some authentic pizza. It was so delicious. Funny story, while in that restaurant a family came in and the dad was wearing a Virginia Tech beanie. What are the chances of that??
The next morning we were super ready for things to be open. Much to my dismay (and if I’m being honest I was REALLY upset) the Sistine Chapel is also closed on December 26th for St. Stephen’s Day. Zack got us a map though and we set out to see some new things. Our first day, we took cabs everywhere (mostly because we didn’t have a map) but the second day we vowed to walk. Our first stop was the Pantheon. This was the first place that was actually open, and not only that it’s free to go in. I have to say that it was one of my favorite places in Rome we went. We ate lunch on the piazza looking at the building and the fountain and I really felt like “THIS is Italy. THIS is what I expected.”
The rest of the day we walked all over (we think we walked about 10km) and saw the Trevi Fountain, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the church that’s above it, the inside of the Colosseum and a lot of other buildings and piazzas that I can’t remember the names to and might not even be anything “famous”. It’s funny how even things like banks, and other buildings became beautiful because they were old and unlike what we are used to.
Rome, was amazing. We could have spent even longer there and still not have seen everything! Stay tuned for my next blog post on some of our other trips including Sorrento (and the Amalfi Coast) and Pompeii!
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