roma is my life

roma is my life
After saying ciao to 
the cinque terra we 
hopped on the first 
train on our route 
to Fiesole, a small 
town outside of 
Florence where Smyth's
 friend Tiare studied 
in college. It was a 
fairly short trip but
 had us train hopping 
like crazy. Once we 
arrived at our 
destination, we were a 
bit perplexed as how 
to get to our hotel. 
Smyth had said that 
Tiare usually took a 
bus from the train but we were at a pretty remote station 
with no bus, let alone any human activity, in sight.
My phone had given us a walking route that said 
36 minutes. It did not specify that it was straight uphill
:) so we started our journey baggage in tow keeping our eye 
out for buses, cabs-basically any form of transportation other 
than vertical hiking. Coming from hiking for two days straight 
I didn't think it would be that bad but boy it was rough. Hot 
and sweaty we slowly made our way up and up and up (Rambla 
Vista style). I kept telling myself I would laugh about it 
later in order to curb the annoyance that was creeping on 
me with every minute! When we finally got to our hotel, we 
both were just drained and could not believe what we just did
...apparently there was a Madonna concert in Florence holding 
up a bunch of taxis buses etc-just our luck. Our room was 
nice and the view from our hotel was breathtaking. I ran to 
the vending machines to get any kind of hydrating drinks they 
had and we collapsed for a couple hours. When we finally felt 
ready to stand up I showered and put a dress on, ready to 
redeem myself and go to nice meal!! We strolled slowly through 
feisole, stopping by the cathedrals and admiring the expansive 
views of hills, small mountain towns and of course Florence. 
We found a nice Italian restaurant with a patio and ordered 
a bottle of wine. We ate grilled veggies, beans, green beans, 
salad and again lots of bread ! We took our time, talked, 
laughed and were serenaded by an accordion player. During 
dinner we could hear and see the lights from the Madonna 
concert below! It was a great night and we returned to our 
hotel happy girls. 

Smyth luggin' her luggage 

Much needed bottle of Chianti!

The following morning, we had breakfast at Villa Bonelli
(our B&B). Cafe Americanos, fruit, toast, juice...I 
suppose this is the typical Italian breakfast. We were 
going to spend the day in Florence ! Rich from BAZ lived 
there for three years and gave me some spots to check out.
A friend of Tiare's was also going to meet up with us for 
a picnic in the Bobali Gardens. We took the bus down to 
Florence and got off at Duomo square where there is a huge
plaza with Giottos Tower, the huge dome and a few other 
tourists spots. We were close by a leather store that 
Rich's friends own and a gelato spot that he recommended. 
We stopped by the store and his friends were so welcoming!
They poured us wine and chatted with us about Florence. 
They also brought some leather jackets for us to try on...
I must say it was funny seeing Smyth put them 
on....I was wondering if she was screaming "I'm vegan!!!"
in her head but trying to be polite. Serious entertainment
for me! The gelato spot next door called Perque No was also
amazing! We were in heaven because they had a whole 
section of vegan (soy based) gelato. With the heat, it was
the perfect mid morning delight!!! Next we headed to meet 
Tiare's friend Giacomo and his girlfriend. They were a 
goofy couple, engineering students who did not speak 
English very well. They were very nice though and walked 
us through the city, passing by many famous spots and 
across the old bridge to the Boboli Gardens. Giacomo gave 
us brief history lessons as we walked. The gardens were 
beautiful but the sun was very very hot and we could not 
last long walking around outside. After getting the full 
garden experience and a semi awkward goodbye, we went 
inside the museum at Piazza Pitti to cool down and see some
art. It is not the best museum in Florence but the lines 
and all the people at the larger, famous museums did not 
sound appealing. The museum did have a very beautiful costume 
gallery though. After that we were tired and decided to head 
back to Fiesole for dinner. Tiare recommended an Indian
restaurant that was a couple blocks from our hotel. The 
staff was very nice and the food was bomb! 
Smyth got a potato chickpea dish that rocked my taste buds!! 

Our last morning in Fiesole, Smyth woke up long before me and
my alarm which was definitely a first on the trip. Usually I 
am lured out of sleep by her snoring, which is both annoying 
and comforting at this point. It was the incessant itching 
from her many large bug bites that kept her from her deep 
sleep this morning. We went to breakfast at our hotel and 
leisurely packed up as we had plenty of time before heading 
to the Georgetown villa for lunch. Tiare has a friend still 
studyingin Feisole and she asked him to show us around and 
if we could be his lunch guests. We arrived at the villa 
around 12:30 and met Will. He had to serve at lunch so we 
walked ourselves around the villa. It was very beautiful 
and quiet with many paths leading to benches or pretty lookout 
points. Not a bad deal to spend a semester abroad. Lunch was 
at 12:45 and it was a fairly formal setting. We were 
introduced to the group as his guests and had to stand 
behind our seats while announcements were made and a moment 
of silence was taken. It was a small group as only about 
13 students spend the summer there along with a few 
professors. Once we sat and poured some wine the atmosphere 
relaxed a bit and everyone was very welcoming and friendly. 
There was a pasta course followed by a salad and vegetable 
course (there was a mystery meat wrapped in bacon 
that Smyth and I avoided). That was followed by dessert 
(chocolate mousse, nutella gelato, and tiramisu) and coffee. 
It was all delicious and very fun to chat with all the 
students. They had just returned from a weekend getaway to 
Rome so we got some good advice before heading there! After 
everyone had to get back to classes, two tipsy travelers 
waltzed back to the hotel to gather our bags and head to the
train. It was a very good time and nice to talk to some 
American students!! Our travels to Rome were not the best 
however. We bought cheap cheap tickets to the train not 
realizing that it was one that made a lot more stops so 
it took a lot longer than we expected. We also did not have 
seat assignments or a train number on our tickets so we tried 
to find someone on the train to ask if we were in the right 
place. No one was around and they suddenly changed the platform
clear across the station 5 minutes prior to leaving. We ran 
across the station alongside the rest of our train mates. 
We sat with a very friendly Italian version of James Macavoy. 
About an hour into the train ride someone came to check our 
tickets which we were apparently supposed to stamp (this 
was different than the trains in France so we were 
very confused). Our friend tried to help but the ticket guy 
(a nice looking younger guy who had something deeply against 
us) was such an ass. He made us pay 40 euro fine and talked to
us like complete idiots. I had not come across anyone that 
mean on the trip up until then. We understood we messed up 
but he was such a creep. Later on I had my feet up on the 
seat and he started yelling at my and told me to clean the 
seat. I kind of thought he was joking because his attitude 
was so ridiculous, but he definitely was not. I talked back 
to him and Smyth ended up getting uncomfortable and wiping 
the seat off (which really wasn't even dirty...). Clearly an 
angry guy...anyway when we finally arrived in Rome we were 
in a rush bc our hostess was waiting for us along with 
a friend of Carolyn's (good friend from wardrobe at BAZ) who 
was going to take us out that night. So as we tried to get 
our bearings and find the apartment, which should have been 
a 10 minute walk, we went the wrong way and found ourselves 
in a homeless haven...literally sooo scary. All of a sudden 
it seemed we were in their living room...some man was 
getting a haircut and I started to freak out and look for 
a cab. We turned right around and found the neighborhood 
we were supposed to be in. Daniele (Carolyn's friend) 
was already waiting outside but was so nice! He said to 
take our time, change whatever, Italians are very laid
back he said! So we met our hostess, who was a young 
Italian student and the sweetest girl ever!!! She gave us 
some info and we rushed out the door to go watch the 
Italy/ Ireland soccer match with Daniele and some if his 
friends. So we drank beer, ate pizza and watched sports. 
The owner of the apartment we were at looked like the 
Italian version of Baby from Dirty Dancing! It was just 
what we needed...and I fell in love with number 6...
Frederico something-an Italian soccer star with a ponytail 
:) Smyth and I were exhausted and ready to go but Daniele 
insisted we see "Rome by night". So his friend Mimo joined
us and they drove us all over the city! We started at 
Vatican city, headed to the river and walked across bridges 
and saw the Congress building. Next we went to a popular 
bar area, Trevesere, where we got fruity strong drinks from 
a bar called Bum Bum. Since Europe is amazing you can walk 
the streets with alcohol, we wandered down the narrow 
streets lined with pubs and late night restaurants. We 
stopped at some stairs where people mingle and drink and 
hang out at night. We laughed a lot and they taught us some
roman slang. Bella-auhoooo. When we tried to repeat it they 
did not understand us at all though! We finished our drinks
and made two more stops before heading home. There's spot 
atop and steep road where you looked through a keyhole 
and can see just the dome from the Vatican. It was crazy!! 
Last on our "Rome by night" adventure was the Trevi fountain. 
They said it was very special at night because there are no 
tourists and it's alllit up! Such a beautiful spot. Smyth 
and I threw coins in so I guess we will be back in Rome 
someday! Very very tired at 4 am we headed home to pass out! 
It was the best way to see Rome-skip the heat, 
the lines and the walking...Rome by night wins. 

Smyth developed a Coke habit in Europe...
always using on the trains...

Trying to explain to our friends the meaning of "overwhelmed"...1.)overwhelmed 
2.)whelmed 3.)underwhelmed, thank
you Alicia Silverstone

The Vatican 

The next morning we were very tired and both agreed that we 
were ready to go home...we saw Rome and did not feel like 
braving the heat and the tourists. But, hangover, blisters, 
low spirits and all, we set out for our last day in europe. 
Thank god we were meeting up with former BAZ dancer Giacomo
to take us around. It was so nice to be escorted because 
honestly I was so sick of figuring out what to see, where 
each place was and how to get there. We walked to the 
Coloseum to meet Giacomo and his twin brother Mattia. 
Our spirits were instantly uplifted as the two gay boys 
giggled and pranced and were so excited to see us! Giacomo 
wanted to know all the ballet gossip. He gasped and oooo-ed
as I caught him up on all the latest. They were both 
hysterical. They led us around the city to see some of the 
plazas and popular sights. We stopped for pizza...yum...a 
must in Italy ! We went back to the Trevi fountain and 
Smyth and I agreed it was much more majestic at night. 
I remembered that Jennifer recommended a gelato place 
close by and the boys new just where it was. Giacomo 
treated us to some amazing gelato! I got a very 
interesting honey flavor and Smyth tried a grapefruit 
sorbet. Next we walked to the Spanish steps where I 
forced everyone to make the trip to the top-work that 
pizza off ladies! We walked down the major shopping 
streets and went to a fancy, old time coffee and tea 
house. It was adorable but charged 6 euro for an espresso. 
From there we said our goodbyes and headed back for a 
nap! The walk home was entertaining as I met an interested 
man from Milan. At first we thought he was starring 
because we looked like tourists but he explained that he 
thinks Italian women are ugly and it's rare to see pretty
girls there. Ha..he thought I was German or Russian or 
something. He needed directions to the Coloseum 
and as we were walking there as well, I showed him the way.
When I told him I was a dancer he said he does some 
street dancing and he showed us a backflip in the middle
of the street. Very random but fun. After Resting and 
packing, we went to our last dinner. Our apartment was 
in San Lorenzo by the university, which is a young area 
with lots of pubs and restaurants. We chose a classic 
Italian restaurant with checkered tablecloths and outdoor
seating. We reflected on the trip and ate spaghetti. 
Off to bed and definitely ready to go to the 
airport. We woke up early and Selene our hostess prepared
us toast with her grandmothers homemade jams! So amazing! 
She taught me how to use a single espresso maker on the 
stove and I taught her how to use a French press (she had 
one but had never used it!!). We said our goodbyes and 
headed out the door. Smyth fell down the stairs on the way
 out and yelled "I hate Rome"...I don't think she will ever 
go back. A walk, a train, a shuttle, two checkpoints, 
security, another passport checkpoint, one more shuttle 
and about 5 escalators later we were at our gates. 
Which were conveniently a couple stepsaway from each other. 
Now about 17 hours until I'm home. 
Goodbye Europe and I hope to see you again soon :)