When in Rome do as the Romans do... and eat pasta!

Trip Start Aug 24, 2010
Trip End Dec 21, 2010

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Where I stayed
Casa Olmata Hostel

Flag of Italy  , Lazio,
Thursday, October 14, 2010

This week I have Monday and Tuesday off, so with a five day weekend ahead I had to travel :).  After much planning our trip to Italy was set.  We flew from Sevilla to Bergamo, which is just outside of Milan.  We explored Bergamo for a while before our train left.  It was a cute area that definitely reflected the high fashion of Milan and Italy.  All of the clothes was amazing but expensive!  We took a train to Milan and immeadiately took a connection to Rome which was an overnight train.  The train to Rome had compartments which reminded me of the Hogwarts Express ;).  On both of the train rides we met some Italians (obviously), and let's just say Italian guys are very forward, persistant, flirtatious, and annoying.  They don't have the same boundaries that we foreigners have.  Our train got to Rome at 5 in the morning, so nothing was open quite yet.  We managed to find a little shop with pasteries and coffee where we could hang out for a while and freshen up until things opened. 

We started our tour of Rome with the Colosseum.  In case if you didn't know, the colosseum used to be used for entertainment way back in the Roman days where they would pit gladiators against ferocious exotic animals like lions and panthers.  Today part of the colosseum is partly destroyed (due to earthquakes) but it is still huge.  A note on Rome, there are cats in random places, which makes for cute pictures :).  After visiting the Colosseum we walked around the Roman Forum and Palatino, ruins from the Roman times which are just across the road.  There is so much (roman) history here, but I don't know as much about it since most of the signs were only written in Italian and I haven't taken a history class on Rome.  On top of the hills in the Roman Forum there were some spectacular views of the skyline of Rome.  After walking around for a while we were pretty hungry so we stopped for lunch and got some amazing pasta (mine was pesto yumm).  Then we decided to hunt for a hostel.  On the way we stumbled across the Trevi Fountain.  This fountain is one of my favorite parts of Rome.  You can look at if for 10 minutes and not get bored.  The architecture is spectacular... the only downside is the vast number of people (tourists) who are there.  We did the traditional tossing of three coins into the fountain.  It is said if you throw one coin in you will return to Rome, if you throw two coins in you will find love, and three coins will guarentee a marriage or a divorce... a chance you have to take because what is love without marriage?  According to Wikipedia 3,000 euros worth of coins are thrown into the fountain everyday!  (I wouldn't be surprised if this was true, but this is a Wikipedia fact so take it for what it is). 

After much searching and a stop by an info point we found out that Rome city center does not have hostels and that there were only three hostels near Rome.  We also found out that there was a U2 concert and several other big events going on that night which made our search for a place to stay even more difficult.  We eventually found Casa Olmatta- a hostel/bedandbreakfast.  It was close to the city, had wifi, and free breakfast... exactly what we needed for two nights.  We took a quick nap and freshened up then went out for some cheap pasta for dinner.  This time I got Afredo a Funghi (Mushroom Alfredo) which was good.  As we finished eating we looked out across the street and realized there was a building on fire!  It was just a small electrical fire, but we got to see the Roman Firemen respond.  After dinner we decided to go back to the Trevi Fountain to see what it is like at night.  It is just as wonderful with slightly less people.  We just chilled by the fountain for a while before heading back to the hostel to catch up on sleep. 

On Sunday we went to the brand new (by two days) Vincent Van Gogh art exhibit.  They had secured works by Van Gogh from all stages of his career as an artist.  It was interesting to see how he developed his style and at what stages his work really began to look like what we think of as a piece by Van Gogh.  I got to see two of his most famous self portraits and one of my other favorites was 'Cypresses with Two Female Figures'.  The texture and layers of paint is something you can't appreciate until you see the artwork in real life.  They unfortunately did not have Starry Night or Irises, his two most famous pieces.  After this exhibit we went around the permanent exhibits in the museum (which is located in the buildiing known as the Complesso Vitorianno).  The last exhibit grabbed my attention since it was an exhibit about Fausto Coppi.  At the time I didn't know who he was, but I did recognize what was in the exhibit.  Fausto Coppi, also known as il Campionissimo, or the Champion of Champions, was a famous Italian cyclist in the 1940's and 50's.  He won the Giro d'Italia five times and the Tour de France twice.  I recognized the old pink and yellow jerseys (the jerseys of the winners), which are quite different from the jerseys of today. 

After all of the exhibits we got some more pasta for lunch (this time spinach and ricotta canneloni) and went to the Pantheon.  As soon as I stepped inside I recognized this building from the movie Angels and Demons.  It was so strange to actually recognize it (since I don't remember much of the movie at all) with the circular opening in the ceiling and Raphael's tomb to the side.  Next we went to the Spanish steps.  This is a huge staircase that has flowers going up it which leads up to a church.  However when we went the flowers weren't in bloom and, like the Trevi Fountain, it was packed with people.  We ate some gellato as we climbed the steps and sat in the church for a bit at the top.  There was a service going on with beautiful singing.  By this time it was evening so we headed back to the hostel where there was a free pasta night going on.  Like the title says... when in Rome you have to eat pasta! ;)
We saved the Vatican and St Peter's Basillica for Monday.  We got over to the Vatican at 10:15 only to discover that there was a line to get in... a really really long line.  We decided to wait it out in the drizzle and eventually got into the Vatican Museum at 1:45 (3 and half hours later).  I later found out that the Vatican has been shut on Friday and Saturday, and it is always closed on Sunday, so it everyone had come on Monday... this seems to be a theme to our trip.  While waiting in line we took turns to go get lunch.  This time instead of having pasta we got some delicious mushroom and sausage pizza.  The Vatican Museum has an astounding collection of artifacts.  It started with Egyptian pieces, which included a real mummy, then went on to hundreds of marble sculptures ranging from animals to muses to nude greek guys.  Many of the floors had amazing and intricate mosaics and the ceilings had detailed paintings.  There were halls lined with really old rugs (the kind that depicts scenes and are meant for the walls not the floor).  We saw all of this as we were directed through a maze of halls that would, eventually, take us to the Sistine Chapel.  Along the way we unfortunately lost sight and got separated from Sidra due to the huge number of tour groups going through.  Over 50 galleries later we finally made it to the Sistine Chapel.  The chapel itself is not as big as I expected, but the artwork is way more amazing than I imagined.  Michalangelo's work is everywhere and soo detailed.  The most famous part, the Creation of Adam where God and Adam are pointing to each other, is relatively small but still impressive.  We didn't spend long in the chapel since we needed to find Sidra.  We finally got out of the Vatican and four in the afternoon.  I waited by the exit while Jayme and Marcela went to see what the line to St Peter's Basillica was like.  Turns out that the line to the Basillica was just as long as the line to the Vatican and it also turns out that there was an exit from the Vatican that ledd to the Basillica, which is the exit Sidra took and not us.  We unfortunately didn't get to see the Basillica since we had to get back to catch our flight back to Rome, and after much stress and worry we managed to meet back up with Sidra in the Rome airport where she told us of her adventurous and crazy afternoon.  We realized we had been just missing each other all day.  We flew back to Milan then spent a short night in Bergamo airport since our flight back to Seville was at 6 am.  However that short night dragged on a bit since it was a little too cold/uncomfortable for much sleep to take place.  It might sound like I'm complaining alot, but I'm glad I've experienced these things because now I can say I've had an authentic backpacking-through-Europe experience.  We got back to Sevilla around 8:30 am, and I got back home by 9:30 where I went to sleep for most of the day. :) 

I enjoyed Rome a lot, I just wish I had had more time to see everything and had been known to plan a bit more for certain parts.  I want to go back one day and see St Peter's Basillica, The Mouth of Truth, Saint Angelo's Castel, and Plaza Navona.  Now that I have some backpacking experience under my belt ;) I can't wait for my trip... which will hopefully be to Paris, France! :D 

(PS I do attend school here even though it may not seem like it... it definitely makes finding cheap flights a lot harder ;) but I am enjoying my classes and learning lots).


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Kate on

It looks like you are having an amazing time! So cool that you have gotten to see all those famous places, especially the Sistine Chapel! I know it was awesome!
Try not to work too hard on all your schoolwork. haha.

Love/miss you!

Linda on

Fantastic city Alice - jeolous ! by the way the cat photo just lookes like one of my cats Olga - she is definitely a panther !!

c burch on

two words: I'm jealous

margeruite on

cats in weird places must be an Italian thing, there were loads of them in Sicily. Your pics are lovely and you are turning into a true wanderer,

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