Yesterday and today were pretty relaxed – yesterday was mostly a travel day and then recover from travel, while today we had to do laundry before getting to anything fun. The flight from Alicante to Rome was surprisingly unpleasant for me. I do suffer pretty badly from motion sickness, and I actually hate flying, but this short flight was especially bad. I think it was a combination of the motion sickness with the fact that I was hungry. Oh well. Bottom line and most importantly – we made it to Rome!!
Side note: As I was getting off the train from the airport, my water bottle popped out of the side pocket on my backpack and went clattering down into the space between the train tracks. I freaked out – obviously I wasn’t going to reach down there while the train was there! But I really need my water bottle!! I was pretty agitated, so Chris suggested we wait for the train to leave then see if we could grab it then. Luckily, as the train moved out of the station, the bottle wasn’t crushed, and I was able to quickly dart down and grab it. It’s from Oberlin – I wasn’t about to give up on it!!
Anyway, water bottle fiascos aside…There is something about this city that just makes me feel complete. Even just walking through the airport set my spirit soaring. Not that the rest of this trip hasn’t been utterly amazing; it’s just that being in Rome makes my heart happy. Of course there are things about this city that are frustrating – it’s pretty dirty and the graffiti everywhere is pretty ugly – but Rome is so vibrant, so exciting, and so full of all the kinds of stories that I love (not to mention the food is better here than anywhere else in the world except maybe Thailand).
Our B&B is in Trastevere, which is really exciting for me because I haven’t ever really spent a lot of time exploring the neighborhood. The name comes from “trans Tevere/Tiberim,” which means “across the Tiber,” which is how the area was seen – across the Tiber from the main center of the city. Our B&B is absolutely adorable, and our host, Danilo, was very eager to show us all his favorite spots on a map. Once he had finally checked us in, we were able to get lunch (pizza al taglio from a place around the corner – amazing!) and then we just relaxed a bit before meeting up with friends to watch the Italy-Spain game (Italy played so well! I will be totally honest: I was expecting Spain to win, but I am so happy they didn’t! It’s really, really fun to watch a game with other people who are really, really enthusiastic about the outcome) and then Chris and I stayed out a bit later to watch the first half of the Iceland-England game (absolutely incredible. I might actually be rooting for Iceland all the way now!). All in all, a good first day!
Today we went over to our friend’s Leigh’s apartment to do laundry. Leigh is a friend of ours who lived in Cincinnati two years ago, but has spent the past academic year teaching at the Centro (the Intercollegiate Center for Classical Studies). She is an archaeologist and works with Chris at Pompeii, so just stayed on in Rome after the school year ended, since there wasn’t much point in her returning to the States since she’d have to come back to Italy in July anyway. This was very lucky for us because it meant that we were able to do some laundry for free! It was actually pretty nice – we just hung out and chatted for a bit while the washing machine did its thing.
Once we had hung everything up to dry, we went to lunch (more pizza al taglio!) and then headed over to the Capitoline Museums. This set of museums is one of my favorites in Rome – two palaces in Piazza Campidoglio (designed by Michelangelo), connected by an underground passage from which you can look out over the Forum. The collection of ancient sculpture and epigraphy is amazing, and the museums themselves have an incredible history – in 1471, Pope Sixtus IV donated a collection of important ancient bronzes to the people of Rome and placed them on the Capitoline Hill, then in 1734, the palaces were opened to the public; the arrangement of the works inside has not changed since. Now, this does mean that you should spring the extra two euro or so for an audio guide if you don’t really know what you’re looking at, but I still think that’s pretty cool.
We wandered around the halls for a good while, lingering in front of our favorites. I’ll post my pictures soon. After the museum, we met up with Leigh for dinner at Trattoria der Pallaro, which was great. It’s a 25 euro flat price, and they just bring you food! All you can drink wine (and water!!!!), and three courses – antipasti (we had: mozzarella, prosciutto, lentils, and tomatoes with olive oil and basil), primi (we had: rigatoni with two types of sauce, a simple tomato sauce with parmesan, and then Carbonara sauce), secondi (we had: veal and pork in a wine sauce), then dolce (we had: a sort of creamy tart type thing). It was definitely worth 25 euros and everything tasted delicious. A few times the old nonna came out from the kitchen to see how everyone was enjoying their food, and she was really adorable.
So, we finished dinner at 10:30 and are now back in our lovely room ready to give in to our food comas. Buona notte!