I have the best roommate ever.
When I walked into the room the other day, I was overcome with the amazing scent of fresh lilacs…
I’m telling myself she picked fresh lilacs on the way home from the grocery store because she loves me a lot (her family owning a greenhouse and her obsession with flowers obviously have nothing to do with it…).
Anyways, thanks a bunch, Jules! 🙂
Since we both realized our weekends in Roma are quickly coming to an end, we took advantage of the beautiful weather and got our tourist on — doing some things in the city we’ve always wanted to do but, well, never got around to…things on our “bucket list!”
A quick ride on the bus & metro took us to our first destination: Circo Massimo (Circus Maximus), the site of ancient Roman chariot races.
Situated between the Aventine and Palatine hills, the stadium was first built in the 6th century BC and could fit roughly 250,000 people, which was a good thing: these races were free to the entire Roman population, even the poor.
We enjoyed strolling around its perimeter. In fact, it semi-made me feel like I was back at a track meet (minus the brutal winds that always seemed to magically appear on meet days), but at 621 meters long and 118 meter wide, it may be just a teeny bit bigger than a 400 m track 😉
Next up? I took the test to see if I’m a lil’ Pinnochio. You know…a liar! (Side note: Pinnochio is huge here, especially in Florence; this fictional character first appeared in Italian/Florentine author Carlo Collodi’s The Adventures of Pinnochio.)
We headed to The Mouth of Truth, located in the portico of the Santa Maria in Cosmedin church. La Bocca della Verita is a sculpture in the image of a man’s face, and legend has it that if you tell a lie with your hand in the mouth of the sculpture, it’ll get bitten off. (Perhaps you’ve seen its appearance in Roman Holiday?)
I decided to tell la bocca della verita that I haven’t thrown up since kindergarten.
Our quest to peer through the keyhole was next on our list. The keyhole is this tiny little hole in a big green door that gives you the most amazing view of Roma, and specifically, St. Peter’s Basilica.
Maybe this one’s a little clearer? (courtesy of everything-everywhere.com)
The rest of the weekend was spent admiring my Dad’s favorite building in Roma, the Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele (the first king of a unified Italy in 1861):
Of course we had to stop in and pay our tribute to Italian Unification. The museum was free, as a part of a week with a multitude of free admission into many different museums and historical sights (which isn’t many in Rome…right? haha).
Since almost all of the information was in Italian, Julie and I had fun pretending like we knew what the museum posters and signs said. Since I’m in Italian 102 and basically fluent, I explained it pretty well:
And, since my sister is a science teacher and all, I know she’s into those mad-genius types. So naturally, I found her a few prospects…
An Italian-esque Nigel Barker, perhaps? Okay…just use your imagination! (Or quick glance at the screen and look away, glance, look away. Glance, look away…)
You know, in case the Teddy Roosevelt look is more her thang 🙂
Our day included so many beautiful flowers, which are blooming everywhere in this 70+ Roma spring weather. Julie’s camera being dead, she just had to stop and snap a few photos for her parents (“Oh! My dad will LOVE this! Look at these (names type of flower, as my jaw drops in utter disbelief that, once again, she knew the name of some random breed of flora).”)
We stopped midday for lunch. On the menu? Paninis!
These never get old. Geez, I am so happy I’ll be able to try and recreate these with my new panini maker when I return home. Otherwise, it’d be a sad, panini-less life for this girl 😦
Sunday night I went out to dinner with some friends from Loyola, who were visiting from London (where they spent the semester studying abroad).
After doing my best in the afternoon to show them around some of the “must-see” sights in Roma, we arrived in Piazza Navona around 8 p.m. to meet our mutual friend, who also studies in Roma with me. We chose a restaurant on a side-street off the Piazza (which, by the way, is my favorite in the city) and were thrilled to finally have the opportunity to be by ourselves, in a quiet/chill place where we could catch up on 4 months-worth of life.
After checking out the menu, I ordered
pizza (nope!), pasta (nope!), a salad! While I’ve made many a salad at mensa (our school cafeteria), this was my first salad ordered out in the city, and it didn’t disappoint.
Hard-boiled eggs, tiny crumbles of bacon, season croutons, and a plethora of mushrooms rested atop a bed of fresh spinach. All this needed was a few drizzles of evoo, balsamic vinegar, and pepper (no added salt — I gave it up for Lent!).
I enjoyed this with 2 slices of fresh bread on the side, dunked in evoo and parmesan cheese.
The four of us chatted away for a while, and it was so nice to finally see some friends from back home. Plus, my three dining companions are all theater majors — you better believe this dinner convo was beyond entertaining 🙂
Don’t you love when you can pick up right where you left off with good friends, after not seeing them for months?
And I Ask You: Are you an avid museum-goer? If given a free day in a large city with both incredible art/history museums and outdoor flea markets/activities/sights and could only do one of the two, what would you choose?
While I’m growing to enjoy museums more and more (especially art museums), I’d have to choose the outside option, provided the weather is decent. When traveling and visiting a new place, I enjoy getting outside and interacting with the locals, taking in the sights, and experiencing things up close and personal…as opposed to in front of a piece of plexiglas in a museum. But don’t get me wrong, I do love me some Picasso and Van Gogh 🙂