Buona giornata famiglia e amici! I apologize for the delay in blog posts – I have been waiting for my photos from break to back up to my Google Photos account so that I can actually include them in this blog post!
TBH I am still standing by that excuse but honestly I’m just not gonna bother. Every time I take more pictures the backup process takes longer and longer and if I already have this post written, why delay and deny my faithful readers (all 3 of you – hi mom, dad and Dani!!) of my eloquent blogging???????? Enough is enough with the excuses.
This long-awaited post is going to conclude the updates on my fall break trip that I went on with my mom, dad, and older brother Dallas.
As I said in the Part I post, our fall break began on October 20th and ended on the 29th, with classes picking back up on the 30th. A lot of students I know went to Paris or Barcelona or Amsterdam for their breaks, but my family and I stayed in Italy to get the most out of our time here without breaking the bank.
We began in Florence, and left on the 24th in the morning to get to Venice for the day. Venice was interesting. We stayed outside of the historic Venice everyone knows and takes pictures of (it’s much cheaper to do it this way), and we took a short 15 min bus ride into the historic part of Venezia. The buses here in Italy are crazy – the bus drivers speed and then slam on the breaks, causing all the passengers to have a tight grip on any hold they can get their hands on, and finding an open seat is far and few between.
We got into the famous picturesque part of Venice around 4-4:30pm, and just tried to get our bearings mostly. We were on a mission to get food and were pretty hungry. My parents both had suggestions of this restaurant called Dal Moro’s for pasta – one suggestion was from my dad’s coworker, and their was a website listing it as one of the best “cheap eats” in Venice. They weren’t wrong!
We wandered all over the city to find the restaurant, and it was a little awful. We had no idea just how crowded Venice was going to be. We were squeezing past people on these little narrow streets, my cell service going in and out between tall buildings, wandering through with pretty much zero idea of where we were going. It was really pretty though, picturesque window and photo-op everywhere you looked.
Eventually we found the restaurant and each pasta was around 7-8 euro each, and they give it to you in a brown takeout container. You can choose your sauces and what type of pasta to go with – so my dad and I each got carbonara with fettuccine noodles, and my mom and Dallas got pesto with spiral noodles. After cooking with Francesca, my mom was a little underwhelmed with the pesto at this restaurant. Francesca’s pesto is the very best you will ever have in your life. That’s a promise.
After that we wandered around the city more, and found some yummy gelato, took pictures, sat on these steps at the edge of the canal and watched the sun set. It was kind of a short trip to Venice, but that’s all we needed, and it was wonderful.
We left Venice the next afternoon, and took the train into Rome. We got off at the Tiburtina station, and took a taxi to the apartment we rented. It was so nice!! The experience was much nicer than where we were staying in Venice, and still affordable! We got settled in for the rest of the night and went out to eat for dinner, but otherwise rested at the apartment.
Tiburtina is just a quick metro ride away from the Colosseum and the ancient ruins in Rome, so we woke up early on Thursday and took the metro to the Colosseo train station – which, when you walk outside, directly faces the Colosseum, and it’s spectacular. We were able to get into the Colosseum for free with the Roma Passes we purchased – 38 euros each I believe for 48 hours of as many metro and bus rides as you need, and it gets you free admission to one site (we chose the Colosseum), and reduced admission to others.
The Colosseum really is amazing, and in pictures it looks huge, but in person it’s more powerful than that. It really is a massive construction, and you just look up at it in awe, wondering how the Romans did it. We are clueless, and very privileged to have machines today that can do what manpower had to do back then.
We wandered through the Colosseum, looking at all the panels they had to read about the history and construction and important artifacts from the ancient Romans. What you walk through today in the Colosseum is mostly medieval reconstruction in the 14th century after a fire destroyed a lot of it. Then it was used for some kinds of housing and stores. Really weird if you ask me, but you made do with what you had back then (and we still do).
It was really cool for me to see my dad so excited to be there and watch him “nerd out” a little bit. Dallas was already tired but he hung in there pretty well and survived. We left the Colosseum around like 10:30 probably after getting there around 9am, it was getting more and more crowded. We decided to check out the Roman Forum on Palotine Hill.
One thing I observed while wandering through the ruins is that they never end. There are way way way more ruins than I thought there were going to be!! There are different paths you take and it just keeps going and you see more and more monumental constructions of massive temples and homes and baths for the rulers of the time (I don’t know enough to confidently tell you which roman emperors they were for). We were getting really hungry and tired after wandering through for around 2 hours in the hot sun – it was still around 70-75 degrees outside in Rome!! It’s farther south than Florence is, and now it’s much cooler. Florence ranges from the 40-50s every day, which is pretty pleasant, though I have adjusted to the temps here and I think that the 40s is pretty much freezing like the locals do 😉
We got some drinks from a vending machine in one of the rest areas in the forum, and walked a little farther before we decided to go get some lunch and see the Trevi Fountain. When in Rome, right? We walked more and found this fancy restaurant with a buffet style lunch for business type people. It was 10 euros per plate including bread and water (we never got the bread at the table which is annoying), and you can fill up the plate as much as you can. I got as much food as I possibly could and it was really, really, good.
We wandered down the street more, and before we know it, we are looking at a massive crowd at the end of the street, and we figured we pretty much made it to the fountain. I was the only one brave enough to wander down to the fountain and try to get some pictures – the crowds made Dallas a little crazy. People were desperate to get photos in front of it, because apparently that’s just what you do. It was still fun though and the fountain is really beautiful.
After that, my dad wanted to go see the Pantheon, an architectural marvel in its own right. It is a very interesting shape, and from where humans stand, it’s impossible to see the dome at the top of the building. It’s really cool! We didn’t have to pay to get in or anything, and it was open to the public. We walked through and looked at all the walls and the ceiling, and it was similar inside to a lot of other Catholic churches and cathedrals. The ceiling has a massive opening at the top (no roof) and they have drains in the floor for when it rains. It’s pretty amazing inside.
We decided to head home after seeing the Pantheon. Dallas was peopled out, and we were really sore and tired from all the walking! Looking at my Fitbit, it says we walked over 25,000 steps, over 10 miles, 45 flights of stairs, and I burned over 3,000 calories. I was so dead!! We got back to the apartment after taking the metro home (takes about 30 mins), and we chilled out for a couple hours before going to dinner at this restaurant my dad found called Farina. They had amazing sandwiches and fries! We really liked the food there and their tiramisu was amazing, much to my mom’s surprise and excitement (it’s her favorite dessert) 🙂
The next day Dallas decided he wanted to stay back while me and my mom and dad tried to go to the Vatican – that was a bust for reasons I will not dive into. We walked down the street from the Vatican and found Castle Sant’Angelo, and decided to do that instead. It was pretty cool! And we got half off of admission from the Roma Pass. After that we went home, and rested and packed up for our train ride back to Florence. It was bittersweet.
My mom and I were very emotional and it was hard for me to say goodbye. I’m still so happy they got to come and experience Italy and this wonderful country and Florence, the city I view as home now. I love that I got to share this place that is going to be such a big piece of my life for years and years to come. It was so special.
Now, I only have
34 (it was 34 when I previously wrote this LOL at me) 24 days until I’m back home in Minnesota. I am feeling ready to come home, but I’m also trying to enjoy my last month here and make the most out of my time!! I am going to Amsterdam next weekend to visit my friend Annika from my church at home in MN, and I’m SO excited (blog post on this to come, don’t worry). It’s the only international trip here that I’ll be able to do, and I’ll be there for the start of Sinter Klaas, their celebration of the Christmas season. I’m hoping I can find some amazing hot chocolate while I’m there (I didn’t, but I did go to Starbucks twice in one day and their hot chocolate was pretty good). It will be really good to see a face from home too, someone that I can relate to on a different level than the friends I’ve made here.