Pizza, Pasta & Prettiness: ItalyPosted: April 22, 2012
We have now made our backward way to the first stop of my travel break trip: Italy! And what’s even better than the amazing pizza and pasta that I ate all week is the fact that my family was able to meet me out there for this once-in-a-lifetime trip. I was so ridiculously excited to meet them out there, but first I had to take an oral midterm for my Danish course. I wasn’t going to waste any time though, and I brought my suitcase with me to my midterm and left for the airport after.
We had an eight day trop and three cities to conquer: Rome, Positano and Florence.
Our first stop was just up the street from our hotel at The Pantheon. It was originally built by Marcus Agrippa as a temple to all of the Roman gods, and now houses the tombs of some Italian royalty. Though it was built 2,000 years ago, the Pantheon still has the largest unreinforced dome in the world. Next, we walked west across the river to Vatican City and visited the Vatican Museum, which included a stop in the Sistine Chapel. This area was beautiful, and St. Peter’s Basilica was so grand. I loved walking around that square, but didn’t think the museum was super great.
The next morning, we went back to St. Peter’s Square for a Palm Sunday service being held with the Pope. We couldn’t understand anything going on, of course, but it was really interesting to be there and see a service with the leader of the Roman Catholic church.
We then went back to the east side of the river and toured the Roman Forum and Coliseum. The Forum was a lot larger than I expected, and we spent a couple of hours walking around these ruins of the government buildings, shrines and temples.
We then walked right next door to the Coliseum (great tourist tip: buy joint tickets for the Forum and Coliseum AT the Forum to avoid the huge line at the Coliseum).
We learned a lot about the Gladiators from the little museum there, but mostly Mick. The Gladiators were usually prosecuted criminals, and the battles were put on by politicians looking to gain favor from the citizens. The events would start with a parade through town and the entire community would gather in the Coliseum to see these Gladiators fight to the death with exotic animals that would be shipped in from all over the world.
Our time in Rome ended with a visit to the Spanish Steps and the Trevi Fountain, where we each made a wish and threw in a coin. In the morning we woke up and made our way to the train station and headed down to Naples where we transfered onto a smaller train to Sorento and finally took a bus to Positano. It was a lot of traveling, but we quickly forgot the difficulties once we were greeted by this view:
We stayed at this great little hotel with only 15 rooms, run by a sweet, older woman named Maria and her sons. This view from our balcony wasn’t too bad either….
We were so lucky to have warm weather during our stay in this town, and spent a lot of time at the beach and doing some great shopping. This region of Italy is known for it’s lemons, and I have never savored such sweet lemons in my life. They tasted like they were coated in sugar – you could almost bite into them. We had great food down by the beach every night, and had fun playing with the neighborhood cats and dogs that were roaming around. I finished the third and final installment of the Hunger Games series (not at all impressed with the ending, by the way) while laying by the water on the last day, and bought a book called “Juliet” that was about a young American girl who finds out she’s related to Shakespeare’s Juliet and must travel to Florence to find the family treasure. It was fun that I picked up this book when I did because the next day we left for Florence ourselves.
“Frienze”, as they call it in Italian, is a much, much smaller city than Rome, and there was artwork absolutely everywhere. And in Florence, besides eating the world’s best gelato, looking at art is about all there is to do. We started our art tour by going to the Uffuzi Gallery, which was right around the corner from our hotel. We saw a lot of great paintings and sculptures, but the most remarkable part of the gallery was the room with all of the pieces by Botticelli – it stood out immediately from all of the others. And later that day we went to the Academia where we saw Michelangelo’s “David”, which was absolutely magnificent and monumental in person. It is monstrous, and being able to walk around it helped me appreciate it even more.
On our last full day in Italy, we went to visit the beautifully unique Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore and Pitti Palace. The exterior of the catherdral is made of green, pink and white marble, and doesn’t look like anything I’ve ever seen before.
When we got inside, I was surprised at how austere the decor was. Clearly, the architects wanted the majority of the color on the outside.
In the Boboli Gardens behind the Pitti Palace, we got a great view of the city and took some time to relax. I was pretty worn out at this point, but so glad that we were able to see as much as we did. I had a great time with the fam, and can’t wait to be back with them in Minnesota in less than a month. I found out this week that I will be interning with the marketing department at United Way doing event planning, and working at Caribou, too, of course. Summer is so close!