Those letters are HOW tall?

Taking advantage of our 3-day weekends, on Friday, Erin, Julie, and I wandered around the Trastevere neighborhood of Roma. Coined “Trastevere” for its geographical location over the Tiber (river), the area is noted as the last surviving pocket of medieval Roma, and as we strolled through its narrow, cobblestone streets, I was struck by the charming character its been able to retain throughout the years. The main piazza is Piazza di Santa Maria, named after the stunning Santa Maria church (which we were awe-struck by when we “popped” in for a quick visit). We came upon the neighborhood during siesta time, so we decided to wander into one of the countless enticing cafes while we waited for the shops to open.

While Julie and I had (smartly or not so smartly, depending on whether our wallet is talking or our stomachs) already eaten lunch at Mensa before we left campus, Erin hadn’t and was hungry for…pizza! We found a great little place that served the best pizza (well, one could argue — but one bite of Erin’s slice and I could tell, this pie was hot-outta-the-oven-fresh with delish ingredients…the finest cheese, the tastiest sauce…you know the deal).

Julie and I didn’t want to miss out on all of the fun, so we decided to get a little dessert, doubling as my “mid-afternoon snack.” Julie chose a nutella-filled cookie from the bakery, and after asking the man behind the counter which was his favorite treat, I happily obliged to a cookie similar to Julie’s, but filled with a drool-worthy cherry preserve filling.

Sprinkled gingerly Doused in confectioners’ sugar? Yes, please! The “cookie” (that’s what the man behind the counter referred to it as) was tasty, yet slightly surprising in texture. I had expected somewhat of a softer “bite” to it, but the shortbread-esque treat was very comprable to the texture of a scone. Maybe it was him referring to it as a “cookie” that threw me off? Either way, I enjoyed it — but wished there had been a little more of the preserves and a little less of the plain cookie. Slightly boring…until I bit into the juicy preserves, that is.

(I just have to include this next photo because it cracks me up! Julie’s a lot like me — we’re both foodies, but I couldn’t help snapping a picture of her checkin’ out the restaurant on the corner while we waited for our bus. Her words were something along the lines of :”I’m not hungry, I just want to check it out.” Hey, no harm in doing a little “research!”)

The rest of the day was filled with us girls attempting to (for the 2nd time) find the Jewish Ghetto and us (for the 2nd time) failing to do so. We thought we had found it (and specifically, thought we had found the synogogue), so we took a celebratory picture…

…And this is why you do not celebrate too early.

Though we were disappointed the Jewish Ghetto escaped us once again, we were happy to stumble across the Forum’s ugly cousin (Julie’s words, not mine) close relative:

A little bit more wandering around and we were pooped — ready to head back to campus! I still was feeling under the weather, so Mr. Sniffles and I snuggled up with my laptop, The Holiday, and a bowl of cereal (with added banana – cuz they’re my absolute fave!) for an untraditional dinner:

Is there anything in the world better than cereal (I know Natalie‘s answer 😉 )?

Crunchy granola with 4 (Four!) different types of fruit — apple, banana, coconut, and raisins — put in a little bit of milk to soften it up a bit (it’s a fine art…you never want the cereal to get too soggy!), and decorated with a few banana slices at the perfect ripeness:

Oh my gosh. I could eat cereal every night for dinner (if it was socially acceptable and I didn’t need to engage with the outside world during Mensa).

After another restful night (see ya later, cold!), we woke up bright and early (ahem, 8:15 am is early, ahem) for a tour of St. Peter’s Basilica from none other than…

…Father Al! (one of the Jesuits at our school)

There's Father Al (he also took us out for pizza that night!)

When I told my dad I was doing (another) tour of St. Peter’s (we had taken a tour while in Italy as a family a couple of summers ago), he asked me, Isn’t that where the letters on the ceiling are as tall as a grown man? While on the phone, I was like, what?! It sounded slightly familiar, but I seemed apprehensive, so he said maybe it was Notre Dame instead.

Well…I should never have doubted the intelligence (and good memory) of my father. He was right:

As Father Al said, "Those are 2 Mikes tall!" (Referring to our friend Mike.)

When you’re standing down below and marveling at the incredible painting, stone, and marble above you, it’s hard to believe those teeeennnyyy tinnnnyyy letters are that large (while doing some searching on the internet, I came across figures from 6.6 – 8 feet, but regardless, they do not look even that big!).

The tour was informative and entertaining — and trust me, though I had visited before, I needed a refresher. It’s amazing how much information you can retain one minute and forget the next. Even information about such an important historical point of interest!

One thing we did this time that I wasn’t able to do with my family was tour the ground-level floor of the original basilica (that was torn down and the present one was built in its place), where many of the tombs of deceased Popes are located. (I honestly couldn’t tell you which Pope is in the below photo. The only thing I know for sure is that they were motoring people past John Paul II’s tomb.)

Before the tour, we had fun walking around St. Peter’s Square (while waiting for Father Al to arrive…due to a miscommunication, we had accidentally left without him):

We're SO there for each other 🙂

"Roomz," (the infamous) Mike, and me.

Brigid getting in touch with her spiritual side. C'mon, we're at the Vatican, people!

After the tour, we were about to faint from lack of food (slight exaggeration). Anyways, we wandered down a nearby street and came upon a sandwich shop & bakery. Funny to think we’d run into one of those in Rome, eh?

My pick? A nice, toasty salami & mozzarella sandwich on foccacia bread, dotted with sprigs of fresh arugula.

 I. Love. Arugula.

The sandwich hit the spot (if we’re being picky, I’d say it could have been a tad warmer), but I’m still excited to try to find the tiny hole-in-the-wall place near the Vatican where my family and I stoppe for a quick ‘sammich while we were touring the area. While eating it (it was a tbm foccacia, of course), I remember thinking, This is the best sandwich I have ever eaten. I might have even thought, This is the best thing I have ever eaten. But I don’t want to get my hopes up should I find it and it not being as good as I remember! (That’ll be a journey for another day — I can’t wait!)

The rest of the day was spent immersing ourselves in culture (think, viewing some of Vincent van Gogh’s best works at a special exhibit here until mid-February) and indulging in some retail therapy (almost 3 weeks in, I bought the pair of Italian leather boots I wanted to return home with…I’ll post a picture soon, for all you fashion-curious people out there :)).

This is where they took the Pope whenever the Vatican was under attack.

We returned home exhausted. (9 hours of walking around does that to a girl.)

We may have been faking this...but this wasn't that far out of the realm of possibility!

One more quick thing I know you all will enjoy. Remember my recent love for brussel sprouts? (New to ciaotochow or don’t have as good of a memory as my dad? Check out my experiment with the smelly tasty little veggie here and their introduction to the entire fam here.) Well, now that your memory is refreshed about that topic…would you believe Mensa regularly offers brussel sprouts?! Yum!! I have been having them whenver I see ’em offered.

My new obsession? Dipping them in ketchup. (Hey, don’t knock it until you try it!)

The more I eat them, the more I like them. And to think — just a month ago — I had never even tried a brussel sprout!

And I Ask You: Is there any new food you’ve tried that you are lovin’ lately? Anything that you want to try — but just have to get up the “courage?” Tell me!


About ciaotochow

ciao to chow: initially created as a little spot on the web devoted to the "chow" I find while studying abroad in Rome. But really, ciao to chow is about my life: the day-to-day experiences, funny stories, moments of laughter, and the food...that continue to inspire me and make me grateful for each new day.
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7 Responses to Those letters are HOW tall?

  1. Steph says:

    Ahh looks like you’re having soo much fun! p.s. I’ve never tried brussel sprouts but in case you’re ever on jepardy (is that how you even spell it?), I just learned in my botany class that a brussel sprout is a modified apical bud of a plant. Interesting? Nope…

  2. Kenz says:

    Cereal and “The Holiday”=the perfect way to end a day in Roma:)

  3. Looks like your tour was fun!!!

    One thing I have been wanting to try is, in fact, brussel sprouts (I know, I need too), but I haven’t gotten around to it. I’ll have to try them the next time we have them….

  4. Layne says:

    Just wanted to say that I love that you have a acronym for our fav sandwich. Tbm, baby! Also, can’t wait to see those boots! Still loving the pics lady…you are seeing such cool places!! :o)

  5. MareMare says:

    Anna, LOVE the post!! You look like you are having a blast, sniffles and all. Fake sleeping and brussel sprouts — funny. Boots — awesome, cannot wait to see them. Favorite food this week — pollo quesadillas, hands down!! Ok, maybe strawberry daquiris!!! Love, Mommacita and Mrs. W

  6. Pingback: Pompeii, Groceries, and an Italian-flavored Recap | ciaotochow

  7. Pingback: Cork: Ketchup. ‘Nuff said. | ciaotochow

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