After a quick and sleepy train ride we arrived in Rome around 10 am. My first impression of the city wasn't too good, a bunch of grungy stores and a single McDonald's, but hey never judge a book by its cover. After a bumpy bus ride, we arrived to our hotel (YES, no more hostels for me!) and checked in. I was overjoyed to see my bed with clean sheets, a TV, a mini fridge and my own bathroom (oh the things we take for granted). After freshening up a bit, and a quick lunch (where I people watched- mostly at some very attractive priests, why?) we started our guided tour. Our tour guide Fedrico, definitely added to the positives of my trip. He was friendly but stern and reminded me of the perfect Grandpa, throughout the trip he referred to me as his assistant and I just laughed it off (secretly overjoyed my adopted grandpa liked me). We started the tour at the Roman Forum. The significance of the Forum is often overlooked by many who visit Rome, but after explaining how Julius Caesar was betrayed and killed, Fedrico just about brought me to tears (either he's an excellent story teller, or, which is more probable: I cry too easily). I was touched seeing the small tribute of flowers that Romans still place at the alter where Julius Caesar was cremated. Italians respect and honor their traditions and history, it's very inspiring. After leaving the Forum, we walked down the street (a very busy street that apparently Mussolini had constructed so he could have a view of the Colosseum from his balcony; selfish man, big surprise) to the Colosseum.
From what I heard before going to Rome, the Colosseum was going to be a disappointment. Prepared for a letdown, I walked into the interior of the Colosseum, and to my surprise, it was magnificent. I loved it. Part of me was imagining the Lizzie McGuire concert (if you don't understand the reference, I pity you) and part of me was enjoying the vast amount of history surrounding me. Our guide continued to explain what went on in the Arena, which if you saw Gladiator you're pretty set on the historical background, and then it was picture time! Fedrico had to force us to leave after a 30 minute photo shoot (honestly I could have stayed there all day taking pictures, it was fascinating). We then headed to the Pantheon, which was the most perfectly constructed building I have ever seen (the height of the building is exactly the length of the width). Although the Pantheon was absolutely stunning, it was getting late, Corinne was tired and hungry aka grumpy. I had a quick meal of penne pasta with a spicy red sauce and following my pasta binge, I was exhausted. After quite a bit of contemplation, I decided to stay in and sleep instead of going out; it was the best decision I had ever made. So sweepy.
After waking early and refreshed, we headed to Vatican City. I knew that the Vatican was its own country, and I was pumped to get another stamp on my passport, except my tour guide kindly reminded me they no longer give stamps on your passport in Europe (which I should have known based on my lack of stamps so far- how are people going to know that I'm a world traveler?!). We had a quick tour through the Vatican Museums, and unfortunately we couldn't see the Sistine Chapel due to the fact cardinals were preparing for the election of the new Pope, so exciting. After, we enjoyed a quick lunch which at first seemed like a great deal: chicken, spaghetti carbonara, salad, and potatoes! all for 12 euro! But after some lousy service, a small portion size and a ridiculous charge for service and bread, I realized it was a tourist trap. Grumbling and forking over more than I agreed to, I left the restaurant a little bitter. My mood was instantly cured by some amazing coconut gelato, beautiful weather and being in front of St. Peter's Basilica at such an important time (I was secretly hoping to get interviewed, look ma I'm on TV, but no). Although we had to wait about 45 minutes to get into St. Peters, but it was definitely worth the wait. The church was breathtaking and so beautiful, the frescoes, the marble statues, and the mosaics were breath taking. My favorite piece was definitely the Pieta, which was perfection, I actually learned some crazy person thought it was so perfect they attacked it with a hammer. Hence the reason it was behind glass, which made me really sad. The church itself was a tearjerker but really made me proud of my faith and the talent of the humankind, like seriously, the Renaissance men had perfection on lockdown.
After some rest, a dinner at an amazing panini place, and a fantastic cannoli with chocolate chips, we headed to the Trevi Fountain, which was so pretty at night. The water looked so clear and blue and it was just one of those moments you know you'll never forget. After some white wine and interesting conversation, I went to bed completely content. The next day was a free day, and without our amazing tour guide, I was a bit at loss what to do. We first decided to head back to the Trevi Fountain for some more photos ops and I looked around for my Paolo (Lizzie McGuire reference number 2), a bit disappointed only to find rude Indian men asking if I wanted my picture taken for 20 euro. After some photos (taken for free), we headed to the Spanish steps. I was overjoyed to be back were my dad once was in the military. I walked up and down the steps a bit at a loss on why they were significant, but I was still happy to be there enjoying the sun. I then unfortunately had a quick lunch at McDonald's (this is becoming a bad habit; I understand) and some cannoli flavored gelato; we headed back to the hotel and made our way back to the train station, and by 6 we were back in our rainy home, Florence.
The weekend really was amazing for me, but now I need to get back into the swing of things. I plan to be productive in my last few weeks in Florence (especially with my workout schedule, all this Italian food is killing me!). I am looking forward to my trip to Venice next weekend, and my mom and dad coming the following weekend (!).
I really am starting to miss friends and family, but I am happy to be here for a few more short weeks! Miss you all.