The past couple of days have been a blur. The days start (frigid cold, may I add — at least in our room), and then what seems like minutes later, I’m washing my face and putting my under armour tights on to get ready for bed. On Friday a few of my friends and I went to the Vatican at night. I had been there once before with my family on our Euro trip circa 2009(?), but that was during the day, so it was cool to see it in a different light — literally! St. Peter’s square was practically empty: I was probably one of 50 or so people in the immediate vicinity. As I approached the gate to the Vatican, I remember trying to soak it all in – it was one of the most peaceful feelings I’ve ever had. Crazy cool.
After our Vatican-viewing, we decided to hit up Old Bridge gelateria, one of the most famous gelato shops in all of Rome. Numerous people have told me I must indulge in some gelato here, so when we came across it on my first weekend here, how could I resist? Though we had missed our bus down to the city and my feet were beginning to numb, indulge we did. Hence, my first gelato experience in Roma 2011:
I don’t know what I was expecting (possibly something a little bit bigger?), but it was basically a tiny, hole-in-the-wall establishment. The employees were so adorable…they even let me take a picture with them!
(Minus my fake smile/tilted head, my favorite part of this photo is the “peace sign.”)
They had a decent amount of flavors, including pistachio, Nutella, and a whole host of fruity-types (Layne’s favorites, but for some reason I never go for the fruity gelato hehe). It cost only 2 euro for a small dish, which really wasn’t small by any means. They allow you to pick up to 3 flavors, so you can try multiple ones during one visit! My selections?
Hazelnut and caramel. Boy, can I please say how happy I am I don’t live closer to this place? I’m thinking it’s a must-visit when my mom and dad come later this semester 🙂 So creamy and delicious. I savored every single bite!
Saturday was the group visit to the Colosseum. After getting somewhat separated from our group (for what seemed like an eternity), some minor freakouts, etc., etc., we were somehow the only group (out of 4) that was able to get into the actual Colosseum (the rest spent more time on the Palatine hill, which we kind of went more quickly through, and didn’t get into the Colosseum before it closed).
Sunday was a day-trip to Orvieto, an old, cobblestone-lined village in the Umbria region that rests atop steep cliffs overlooking the city.
After the close-your-eyes-and-hope-this-driver-can-really-navigate-these-winding-streets-with-no-guard-rails part of the experience, we arrived in Orvieto and were fed a delicious, Italian-style Sunday brunch.
The brunch was at a quaint little restaurant with ivy clinging to the trellises and an area of alfresco dining. We ate inside, as Orvieto was far chillier than Roma (seeing as it was atop the hill and all).
The first course, or primo, was probably one of the best things I have eaten. In. my. life. A zucchini lasagna: thin rounds of tender zucchini intermixed with al dente lasagna noodles and bathed in a creamy, cheesy, sauce. (Almost as good as my Winter White Lasagna 🙂 hah!)
The secondo was a smattering of tender beef (reminded me somewhat of my mom’s stroganoff meat…a little tidbit, that was my fave meal when I was younger), mixed greens tossed with a light vinaigrette, and a few perfectly crisped potato wedges.
It was…terrible. I hate to say it, but one (small) bite and I was done. Blech.
After our big lunch, it felt good to get outside and stroll through the cobblestone streets, past all the small boutiques, wine shops, gelaterias, and an adorable store specializing in fun, “pop” type kitchen decor (you better believe I had to be restrained in there).
Along the way, we were led into Orvieto’s massive cathedral. An absolutely stunning building with a mosiac-facade (recently renovated in 2009). Our tour guide told us we were viewing it at the best time of day: right when the sun was hitting the exterior. The tiny mosaic tiles were glittering extensively, as they were being bathed in the sun’s rays.
Everything here is remarkable. Old buildings I would fail to even notice back home are special: treasures from years ago, proudly displaying their ages through char-marked bricks and weathered stone. Around every corner is a new place to discover, to appreciate. Each view of the surrounding countryside is breathtaking. With the dawn of each new day, I’m discovering beauty in the most unexpected of places. For some reason I embrace the conventionally unbeautiful here. Why would I want to run my hand over a freshly-painted piece of chemically-manufactured faux-stone when I can massage the bricks of a building that’s been standing for centuries? (For the Colosseum, since 80 AD!)