Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Weekend in Roma

As mentioned in my previous blog post, I took the opportunity (with Thursday classes being cancelled) to take a trip to Rome this last weekend! Four days was hardly enough to see everything that I wanted to. Be prepared for a long post, mostly due to the enormous amount of pictures that I want to share. 

Thursday morning I left my apartment about 20 minutes before the train departed and still had about 15 minutes to spare, I cannot be grateful enough for the location of my apartment! It makes traveling by train so simple. 

Apart from having a long weekend, another incentive to get out of Milan was the forecast. When I left it was raining and snowing in Milan whereas it was predicted to be 60 degrees in Rome. I didn't realize what seats I had booked (I just picked the cheapest fares that I could) and I ended up having seats in business class. Score! I enjoyed sitting back and watching the climate and scenery change while receiving free drinks and snacks at every train station that we stopped at. 

I arrived in Rome around 10, easily found my way to the hostel, and then made my way to the Colosseum and the Roman ruins. Words cannot describe how impressive these ruins are! Definitely my favorite part of the trip was touring through the Roman Forum. I spent the entire day going through the Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Palentine Hill. The only reason that I left is because they were kicking people out... Truly an amazing first day in Rome! 
My humble quarters for the weekend.  
Entrance to the Roman Forum and Palentine Hill!
Steep Steps at the Colosseum!
So excited that I don't have to wear a jacket!

I wandered back to the hostel and looked up a restaurant nearby and ended up dropping over 20 euros on a very small, plain meal. I was a little peeved to say the least and vowed to not return there again. 

Friday morning I woke up slowly, met a girl from the UK that shared my room and had breakfast that the hostel had provided. The weather was overcast and threatening to rain so I decided to make my way to the Vatican Museum, a 15 minute walk from the hostel. I made it there around 11 and didn't have to wait in any lines to buy my ticket and enter. The guide book that I have told me to expect at least a 2 hour queue just for the line to buy your ticket without a reservation! I had a full day to devote to the Vatican and Vatican Museum and I fully took advantage of it. I saw almost everything that the museum had to offer! 

The Sistine Chapel of course is the highlight of the museum and the very last exhibit, no pictures were allowed and the security guards are strict. However I did take some pictures of the other exhibits that allowed photos. From there I took Rick Steves advice and exited through the tour group only exit that allows you to enter St. Peter's Basilica without going through another security line. After finishing at both St. Peter's square and the basilica I headed to a nearby shopping street (I was in desperate need of some shoes besides wellies and running shoes). I was successful and walked away with a cute pair of boots for only 25 euro! At that point I still wasn't completely ready to call it a day and made my way to the Pantheon. By the time that I got home that night I was beat. Somehow I summoned the energy to go out for dinner with some girls that were staying at the hostel who had just recently graduated from grad school for geology. 
This one is dedicated to my Dad:
I feel like he frequents this face.
Hall of Tapestries
Emaculate Conception Room
In person this frescoe looks like an extension of the ceiling
Michaelangelo's Pieta Sculpture
Huge dome that was constructed by Roman's now used
as a Catholic Church. Amazing architecture!

 I woke up Saturday morning to rain and I optimistically hoped that it would let up and decided to wear my new shoes that I had just purchased. Needless to say this was a poor decision and I realized it more and more as the rain continued to come down all day long. Saturday I accomplished to see the Spanish Steps and then continued to walk up this road trying to find the Medici Villa. I'm not sure that I ever found the Medici Villa but the walk had an incredible view of Rome which the pictures don't even partially help to portray. I wandered back and found the Trevi fountain. On the way the way there I was movie-style splashed by a taxi and decided to call it quits and head back to change. On the way back my umbrella was ripped to shreds by the wind, all of my books in my backpack got wet, and I looked like I had just been blown in by a hurricane. I spent the rest of the day taking a siesta and then dinner again with the geology girls for dinner.

Spanish Steps!
HUGE Victor Emanuel Monument
Definitely not agreeing with the weather. 
By Sunday morning the weather had improved substantially and I spent the majority of the morning walking around the Burghese Gardens, where the Burghese Museum that houses many of Bernini's sculptures is located. Unfortunately because I planned my trip last minute I wasn't able to get tickets for this museum. From there I made my way to the Capuchin Crypt which was decorated with the bones of 4,000 friars. It was a little sinister but definitely worth the experience. I revisited many of the sights that had been miserable in the rain the day before. 
Cart of mini ponies in the park
BEST Canollis so far!

Time absolutely flew this weekend and before I knew it, it was time to head back to Milan. I had booked the night train that was set to depart Rome at 11:45 pm and arrive in Milan at 7 am. I arrived early just to be sure that I was able to find my train track and the train station. I was about an hour early, and then the train was delayed an hour. I was stuck in the train station for over 2 hours without any heating or benches. Finally I made my way out to the platform within 10 minutes of the train arriving to have the sign to keep reading 5 minute delays. After 1 am the train finally showed up and I settled in to the Harry Potter style rail car and fell asleep almost immediately. As soon as I knew it I was back in Milan by 7 am... not sure how that happened after the delays we had but I wasn't complaining. 

Rome is an amazing city! Disneyland for adults comes to mind. I downloaded the audio tours from Rick Steves for most of the main sights and they were perfect, definitely recommend them! I am exhausted and happy to be back in Milan, stay tuned for my next adventure this weekend in the Italian Alps for a ski trip!


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