I have done so much traveling since last week! While still in Florence, I visited the Museo del Duomo, and saw some really amazing artwork! I learned more of the history of the Dome of Florence as well.
Friday morning, I took a trip to Fiesole, which is a small town just outside of Florence. It has a beautiful view of the city of Florence.
After that, my roommates and I took a train to Pisa and saw the leaning tower. We took the obligatory leaning photos, and then got some pizza in Pisa!
This past weekend I went to Rome. Saturday and Sunday I was with my school group, but I didn’t take the bus back with them. Instead, I stayed until Monday to meet many cousins on my dad’s side of the family. So, I got two entirely different experiences of Rome in one weekend!
On Saturday, we arrived in Rome at about 9:00am, and our first stop was Piazza Navona. It is a square with a huge and popular fountain and the church behind it is La chiesa di Sant’Agnese. I got a small bottle of holy water from the church as a takeaway.
Our next stop was the Pantheon. We learned of its history and then had time to explore the area and get lunch. The Pantheon was originally covered in bronze, but it was later melted down by order of Pope Urban VIII to be used for other construction. It is still ‘bellissimo’ without the bronze!
After lunch, we headed to the Vatican, where we had a guided tour of the museum there. Although we weren’t allowed to photograph it, the Sistine Chapel was beautiful! I also got to see Raphael’s “School of Athens” and Michelangelo’s “Pieta” in person. After we left the Vatican, we headed to the hotel and had a traditional Roman three-course meal…I could barely finish all the food!
That evening, I met one of my cousins, Erika and her boyfriend, Mattia, and we got drinks and talked. They were very fun to be around, even though I don’t speak Italian and they don’t speak much English. It was nice to meet them.
The next day was packed with activities. We went to the Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps, Trajan’s Column, Piazza Venezia, the Colosseum, the Arch of Constantine, and the Roman Forum. With lunch, I ordered a spritz, because when in Rome, you have to try it! It is a wine-based cocktail usually served as an aperitif in Italy.
We went inside the Colosseum and walked around the Roman Forum, literally walking through Roman history.
After that, I separated from the group and my other cousins picked me up and we went to their house. They had made me such a nice welcome banner and had a party ready for me! So many family members traveled to Rome to meet me while I was there. It was so heartwarming to meet everyone; they were all so kind and hospitable.
Most of them don’t speak English, so I was forced to learn a little Italian. We went out to dinner that night, taking up two tables. I had so much food and was stuffed; I didn’t think I could eat anything else. Then my cousin Cinzia asked if I wanted any dessert. I said, “No, grazie,” so naturally they ordered me a tiramisu. I had to eat it! The tiramisu in Italy is unlike any I’ve had in America. It is so incredibly rich.
After dinner we walked around Rome, going to Gianicolo Terrace and Trastevere.
The next day, we walked around central Rome and visited many beautiful libraries and churches.
The churches we visited were so breathtaking!
I had some friends from home in Rome, so they came to my cousins’ house where we had a large lunch. It was lovely to talk with everyone and wonderful to experience an authentic Italian home-cooked meal.
Afterwards, we went out for gelato (they had smurf flavor!) and then for a walk in Villa Pamphili. Then it was time for me to catch my train back to Florence. Do not worry though, my cousins made sure I didn’t starve on the train back. They gave me a bag of sandwiches and pastries. They were too sweet!
It was such an unforgettable trip to Rome and meeting family there! I hope to return the favor when they come to America!