Saturday, 28 June 2008

In Retrospect

Aside from the excitement of returning home, I took a minute to reflect on my seven weeks in Rome. Looking back it is hard to believe how much I have learned and grown from my experiences. Through the blogging assignments, I have in particular learned a lot from my themes, Roman churches and gelato and also my place, Trastevere. From just my research and my writing on these three topics you can gain a good understanding of what I got and took out of my time in Rome.

Gelato, quite obviously, was a big part of my diet and enjoyment in Italy. Simply by seeking out different gelateria’s it has taught me not only how great the Italian ice cream is, but also a lot about the city. I had to travel around to all different parts of the city to complete my gelato tour. Also, surprisingly, I learned that gelato is actually better for you than American ice cream, which of course gave me a good excuse to eat more!

Roman churches not only strengthened my Catholic faith but also taught me a lot about the Italian architecture, artwork and the aesthetics. I enjoyed comparing and contrasting the differences between the churches I visited. From smaller local churches in Santa Maria in Trastevere to St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, each church has something unique that I took away from them. Although I didn’t get to see the four hundred plus churches in Rome, I feel as if I visited a good amount and I can’t wait until I am return to Rome to see more.

Trastevere, my place, was my home for seven weeks. I will always remember when the cab drove us up to our front door. We said to each other this couldn’t be right. In a back alley with no idea where we were was a bit horrifying. However, only days later we called it home. We grew to love it and really got to know it. There was so much to see, restaurants and shops lined every alleyway and down the main street Viale Di Trastevere. Trastevere, “across the Tiber” was its own little world, separated from the center city of Rome by the Tiber River. I enjoyed how it was filled with a lot of locals and was away from a lot of tourist traps. Overall, looking back on my two themes and my place, it really shows how much I was able to accomplish in such a short period of time. I hope you have enjoyed learning about my experience and adventures in Rome!

Friday, 27 June 2008

The Grand Finale of the Gelato Tour

The last stop on the gelato tour was Giolliti’s, making a complete circle back to the start of my gelato tour. “One extra-large gelato please,” I said to the cashier as I handed her ten euros, yes that’s right ten euros worth of gelato. I handed my receipt to the man behind the counter, which evoked a shocked facial expression. It is probably not often that he serves customers a 10 euro gelato. He pulled out a cone that was at least twelve inches long and started piling on the gelato, making the cone another six inches taller with a huge dollop of whipped cream on top. I think every person in Giolitti’s stopped to observe the masterpiece. The ninety degree weather was not good circumstances because the gelato was melting so fast. It made it that much more of a challenge. We decided to walk to the Pantheon and sit there while we ate our gelato. I now know how celebtrities feel because as I walked down Via Pantheon we got comments, stares, and even cheering from the people on the street. However, the stares and cheering were not for the same reason celebrities get them . Instead, we were just great advertisements for Giolitti’s. Believe it or not I completed the challenge. It was a great end to my Italian gelato tour.

Caffé della Arance

My last morning in Rome was spent in an outdoor sitting area of a local ristorante in Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere. A few of my roommates and I had seen this particular establishment a few weeks earlier while we were passing through on our way to dinner. The tall, flute glasses which held a large amount of freshly squeezed orange juice were enough to catch anyone’s eye. We made a vow to enjoy this delicious juice before we left Roma. At about 11 AM we made our way to two tables side by side and ordered five drinks. They took about eight minutes to prepare, but the wait was well worth it. The flutes were delivered and contained a fresh slice of orange garnishing the rim of the glass. The first sip was so refreshing, and I loved how the drinks actually came with a generous serving of ice. On such a hot day, this was exactly what the five of us needed and even though the price was a bit steep (€7), we were all happy when we stood up to leave. I was so glad that we finally got the chance to visit Caffé della Arance and recommend it to anyone looking for a special glass of morning juice!

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Tiber River Gelato

A beautiful night in Rome, my friends and I decided we would go down to the Tiber River. For the past two weeks on our way to school we have watched the gradual set up of the stands and tents lining the river. Not exactly sure what they were setting up for we hoped they would be finished in time for us to experience whatever it happened to be.

We were pleasantly surprised when we got down to the river. Roman teenagers and young adults were sitting along the river socializing. There were food stands, bars, and accessories shops lining the river on one side. On the other side, there were large seating areas overlooking the river. Quickly I felt submersed into the Roman culture. We sat down and enjoyed not only each others company but the culture around us. The only thing left to do was get my favorite Italian specialty, gelato! Luckily there was a gelato stand a few feet away from where we were sitting. I convinced some of my friends to come with me. Of course I got the fruit di bosco, but this time I added a special touch. I got caramel syrup on top. It was the first time I saw it offered in a gelateria. Gelato in hand, sitting on the Tiber with friends is my idea of a perfect night in Italy.

Villa Doira Pamphilj

On an extremely hot Monday morning, I set out to meet my group for our guided walk lead by Allison. At 9:00 a.m. the heat from the Roman sun was so oppressive that \we decided to catch a bus to Villa Doira Pamphilj. It was the first time that I was asked for my validated bus ticket. Thankfully, Jessica our group leader had told us that we needed to purchase tickets before we got on the bus, or I might have been out fifty euros for a one euro bus ride. The bus dropped us off just steps from Villa Doria Pamphilj. Villa Doria Pamphilj is one of Rome’s largest public parks. At first sight I was not overly impressed with the garden. However, once we walked a little ways down the dirt path lined with trees, my impression completely changed. Astonished by the extravagant building that lay in front of me, we quickly walked as closer to get a better view. The villa was the summer residence for Prince Camillo Pamphilj. The villa, fountains and summerhouses were paid for by Pope Innocent X. The beautiful gardens seemed to never end, with people walking, running, playing or just sitting on a bench taking in the beautiful scenery. It reminded me of Central Park in New York City. None the less, it was a nice break from the craziness of the city. Our tour ended at my favorite spot, Giolitti’s. Surprisingly and sadly, it was some of my group members first Giolitti’s experience! It was a great end to a lovely day.

At last, a visit to the Vatican Museum!

I am no longer embarrassed or saddened because I can officially say: I have been to the Vatican Museum. It is an overwhelming but spectacular museum. The Laocoon, a first century AD marble statue, depicts the Trojan priest Laocoon and his son struggling with two serpents. The Laocoon was at the top of our list of statues to see. Not sure where it was located we decided we would keep our eyes out for it as we wondered through the long corridors of the museum. However, as we were walking through the Gallery of Tapestries, Carley stopped us in a panic “we missed the Laocoon!” All in accordance we turned around and began to backtrack. We still were not sure where it was located, so we studied the map to get our bearings. Thinking we had figured out where the Laocoon was located, we continued on our way. According to the map it is in the Greek and Roman courtyard. Down the stairs through a corridor that we had already been in we rounded the corner and halted at the door leading out to the courtyard. The rain was pounding down on the pebbled walkway. We grabbed our umbrellas and proceeded down the walkway in search of the Laocoon. To our dismay, the Laocoon was nowhere to be found. Right in front of us was an English speaking tour guide. We said to her, “Excuse me, will you please tell us where the Laocoon is located?” She replied in a very friendly manner and gave us directions back into the building. We thanked her and went on our way. Ironically the directions took us back to the courtyard we had already visited. Our adventure to find the Laocoon exemplifies the Vatican Museum’s overwhelming amount of art. We took a few pictures and observed the Laocoon, and then we were back to where we left off. The rest of our self-guided tour went smoothly and was totally worth the five week wait.

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Rome's Secret Garden

Orto Botanico di Roma is a beautiful botanical garden located in the slopes of the Janiculum and overlooks . The garden is operated by the Sapienza University of Rome. It was first established in 1883 and is the successor of the Papal Botanical Garden. I knew nothing about the Botanical Garden’s until Kevin reported about it to our class. Interested by the description he gave us I decided to go see it for myself. The garden is home to more than 3,000 species of which over 300 are medicinal. On a beautiful day it is great way to escape the noisy, crowded, hustle and bustle of Rome. You can wander along the guided paths and enjoy the wide array of plants, as well as ponds and water fountains that add to the gardens serenity. Here you will also find great view points of Rome. It is a great place to sit on a bench and relax in peace and quiet all while looking out at the great city of Rome.