It’s cliche but.. WHEN IN ROME! – July 1st & 2nd, 2014

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“When in Rome”: this has been the Angels and Levitt’s motto for the past two days. As we left Florence and entered Rome, old men on bicycles became young couples on mopeds and sleepy side streets became densely crowded shopping areas and the rings of bicycles passing through became the honks of the crazy taxi drivers. Rome is incredible!

It’s this enormous city where every corner you turn you find one of three things: a gelato place, an incredible italian restaurant, or an ancient building or artifact from at least a thousand year ago still standing and in good preservation. Little children sit on the street playing the accordian, hoping a nice stranger on the side of the street such as me will hand them a couple euro and women walk around in espadrills and heavy eye makeup carrying shopping bags and leather purses and jackets (real of course). Like Paris is to France, like Istanbul is to Turkey, Rome is to Italy.

Our first full day, after a nice rest at the Western Exelscior our hotel (much more modernized and American than our hotel in Florence which was spacious and filled with antique furniture and the bathroom was tiny and our shower consisted of a bathtub with a newly incorporated showerhead but no curtain or shower door or anything) we headed out. My family started off our day with a lovely breakfast at a small cafe where I had the first cappucinno I have ever liked in my life as well as delicious toast and jam and eggs and bacon. Then we walked towards the Pantheon and the fountain from the Lizzie McGuire movie. My dad told me that the Pantheon used to be a place of worship for the devil and so I entered quite excited to see (since there’s pretty much nothing like that in Italy, home to the Pope). To my disappointment he only said that to get me to walk in. It was still beautiful and had this giant circle opening at the top where sunlight spilled in. Then we headed over to get lunch (even though we had jsut eaten breakfast because, “when in Rome”) and went to a place that had great recomendations. I ordered a tomato salad and a pasta and bean soup because I knew I wasn’t THAT hungry. But even when you aren’t THAT hungry in Italy, you’ll eat. Well the portions for our food were HUGE and we all got these artichoke things which were filling enough for one meal as it is. Ah well, you eat big in Italy! Next we went to one of the catacombs. The catacombs are these areas underground that span for great lengths and used to be where tons of bodies were buried. A couple of years ago you could go down and tour it and see all of the remaining bones of the deceased where they were buried, stacked on top of each other. But, people were stealing the bones and so they had to move them to catacombs blocked off from the public. So yes I wish I could’ve seen the eerie bones of the peope but it was still eerie enoughw walking down there in the cold damp quiet darkness feeling like a demon would pop out at any moment. It was quite interesting to learn about the lady who was rich and donated all of that underground space to bury the poor, and how rich were buried in marble and poor in terracotta, and all of the symbols and words they used to dedicate to the poor to describe their lives.

Then we walked around some pretty parks, got some gelato for the second time that day (earlier I had gotten a raspberry and frozen yogurt scoop and this time biscotti which was not very good). There are tons of dogs everywhere! There are also tons of mini coopers! And all of the cars are SOO tiny its ridiculous and the park about 1 inch away from one another; the street sides are literally packed with these bumper cars and I don’t even know how they get out of those spaces. We met up with the Levitts later for dinner and eventually a VERY fun night.

I wore my favorite white, flowy dress that I bought in Biarritz, which always means I am going to have a good night. ALWAYS! Just like a specific sweater that I always have an exciting night in if I wear. After a delicious dinnerr (I had a fettuccini with porcini mushrooms) we headed over to a bar to watch the World Cup Game (USA vs somebody else I don’t remember because I didn’t actually watch it). Nicole Levitt and me were invited to a boat party and spontaneously our mom’s let us go! Our mom’s were being quite fun and lenient that night. This is the right time to imply, “When in Rome!” as well as “What Happens in Rome stays in Rome” as Nancy mentioned. We met the nicest and most adorable Australian couple who were 27 and married and they hung out with us and took care of us the whole night! We went to the boat party which was actually kind of small but extremely fun and danced and partied the entire night! Don’t even ask me about the game because I was not watching! It was strange to think that I was probably the youngest person (17) at that party on a boat in Rome, since most of the people there were in their 20’s, but that made me feel pretty cool. So we left at around 2ish and met up with our parents and families on the way back, said farewell to our new Aussie friends, and explored the streets. We skipped and sang and laughed on the way back to the hotel and I probably went to bed at around 3. That was probably one of the most fun nights, other than the cruise nights, that I have had the entire trip. It was so great to have one night kind of away from my family where I had freedom to just have fun and not worry. WHEN IN ROME!

The next day was BUSY. We got up early and took a taxi to Vatican City. It’s crazy that it’s its own country! We went through the Vatican Museum party and boy I have never seen so many scultuptures, pieces of art, and old artifacts in my entire life, it was pretty incredible. I especially enjoyed the section talking about the Egyptians and seeing a real mummified woman preserved to this day. In addition my mom and I loved the modern art section, filled with colorful and shapely pieces depicting many similar themes such as Jesus and Mary but in unconventional and even rebellious ways (of course this art is all much more new). And it was pretty incredible to look upwards and stare at the Sistine Chapel, the incredible masterpiece by Michaelangelo himself, who when he was painting the Last Judgement (the entire ceiling) in 1536  and went blind by the end from all of the paint dripping in his face. I learned that it is in the Sistine Chapel that Pope’s successor is voted for by a congregation of cardinals called the conclave. When the chimney releases puffs of black smoke it means the voting is still in process, and puffs of white smoke means that a new Pope has been chosen! It was truly incredible to gaze in wonder at the many frescoes painted by Michaelangelo and (enter name here) as well as many other artists.

We also headed over to St Peter of Basilica’s church, the Colosseum, the Forum, and all in all probably many other places I can’t exactly remember the names of. Another one came to mind: the (enter name here) dedicated to the forgotten soldiers. A beautiful building! Of course Ben got in trouble by security for sitting on part of it because he didn’t read the sign before, classic. There isn’t much of anything specifically special to say for any of these places except that they were ten times more incredible in person and very beautiful. Oh Rome and its wonders!

We had another lovely dinner that night and this morning we left. Currently, I am on a dark airplane sitting in the window seat writing this because I procrastinating (since I really should be reading my book) with about 9 hours to spare. After permanently bruising my feet most likely, gaining about ten pounds (especially in my face oh boy) and a couple of bug bites and cuts, I can’t say I miss the relaxation part of home, but I know I am going to miss my adventures in Europe soon enough again. All I can say now is Ciao and see you next time!

~xoxo Ali!~

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the google maps guy!!IMG_5569

a laduree in Rome….my parents wouldn’t let me go in or buy any macaroons though… sigh…

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yeah this guy made me give him a tip after his little “show” cuz he noticed I snapped a pic of him…

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a not so circular panorama of the PANTHEON

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me n’ my mum & dadIMG_2218

me and the Levitts!!!

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selfi w/ Nicole

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selfi w/ Steve

 

 

DAY TWO IN ROME:

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thanks for the photo bomb Matthew IMG_2471

GNOCCHI >>>>> everything else

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