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 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 :)