The Eternal City

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Here is another blog coming at you from Florence, Italy. I can’t believe that I only have forty days left here after today. This seems kind of crazy to me. I am beyond excited to be coming home soon, but let’s be honest I still have a lot of traveling to do and such a short amount of time to do it. I still need to conquer Venice and of course the one place I really want to see Pompeii. I have been taking a lot of pictures and hopefully by the time I come home I will know a lot more about photography. For this past weekend’s adventure my roommate Grace and I headed to Rome.

When we decided to head to Rome Grace and I got our tickets the day of because before we could leave I had class. We booked out hotel the night before and in the early afternoon we took the fast train to Rome. I must say that I was really surprised at just how fast the fast train goes. What normally takes three hours took us an hour and a half. I was really excited to get to Rome, and our hotel was close by the station so that was really nice. Once we checked in we went to go see some of the city. We walked around a bit and went inside a church or two, but we were meeting up with Father Dellaert, a family friend, so we decided we had better get to the Pantheon to meet up with him.

Our original plan was to go and check out the Pantheon and then go meet up with Father, but that’s the thing about making plans they never turn out the way you want them to. Unfortunately at the time there was a Mass being held inside the Pantheon so instead we grabbed a seat on the stairs of the fountain in the middle of the square and people watched until Father got there. Then we received a personal tour of a very beautiful city by an amazing tour guide. It was really great getting shown around by someone who knew a lot about the city as well as some sites that we probably otherwise would not have gotten to see. We saw many churches which was really cool, and Father knew so much about the architecture and the reasons they were built as well as who built them and when. Like I said we had an amazing tour guide. One of the highlights of our night tour was seeing the site where Julius Caesar was killed, which apparently now is a cat sanctuary, who knew.

If you know Father, and I am sure many of you do, you know that he is one of the nicest people on the planet. He took us out to dinner at a little local restaurant after our site seeing, and the food was amazing. We shared a few stories from back home, some tales about our travels, and all of the things that go along with living abroad. After a really great meal and tour of the city we parted ways at the Spanish Steps, and we decided to meet bright and early the next day to tour St. Peter’s Basilica as well as partake in mass as it was a holy day. After parting ways with Father Grace and I were pretty tired from our travels so we went and got some gelato and then turned in for the night.

The next day we woke up bright and early to eat a quick breakfast and then grab a bus to the Vatican. We weren’t really aware that you were supposed to buy a ticket before getting on the bus because we thought you could just buy one once you were on, like in Ireland. So we kind of bummed a ride to the Vatican, but our bus driver was nice and he didn’t seem to be too upset that we were free loaders. Once we got there Father was waiting for us in the middle of the square. He told us the history of the square and some other stuff about the Vatican, but the real surprise was once we got inside. The line was short because we had gotten there so early. Tip, if you ever plan to see the Vatican the earlier you go the better chance you have of getting in without waiting in line forever.

The inside of the St. Peter’s Basilica is unlike anything I have ever seen in my life. It was so beautiful that it is hard to believe that human hands made it. Honestly the artistry that went into it alone is mind boggling. I mean I can’t even draw a tree!

There were several priests doing mass at the different altars for people, and we also received a little sneak peek into where the priests go to prepare for the masses they say in the basilica. Looking around there was so much beauty it was hard to concentrate on just one thing at a time. There was also a choir practicing so the whole place was filled with beautiful music while we were there. One of the cardinals was going to be doing mass at one of the bigger altars for All Saints Day so there was a good number of people seated getting ready to celebrate mass. After we had mass with Father the three of us walked around the basilica for a bit and he gave us more information about the place. We then went and had cappuccino at a little coffee shop not to far away said our good byes to Father, and then we actually bought tickets this time to get on the bus and head to the colosseum.

On the way to the colosseum we stopped and took in some of the Foreum. It was really cool to see the city ruins and imagine how they must have lived in the past and how it all must have looked. After waiting in line for about an hour Grace and I finally made it inside the colosseum. I am sure you would agree from seeing some of my pictures that it is quite impressive and must have been even more so when it was brand new. I can’t even fathom a place so big and old being new, but it must have been something to sit there in the crowd and watch people and animals battle to the death. It seems barbaric to think about when you sit there and realise that all of the people there gathered in such an extraordinary place were there to watch such awful events. The colosseum wasn’t just a place for death though they also put on plays and other things, but i’m guessing people got bored easily watching all of the fluffy stuff. We were done with all of the sites we had wanted to see pretty early so we got back to Florence in the late afternoon on Saturday.

All in all it was a pretty great weekend full of amazing memories and beautiful sites. I will say I was a little disappointed that I didn’t basically relive the Lizzie McGuire movie. No, I didn’t run into Palo and have my twin save the day while I rocked it at a  concert that everyone is overly excited to be at. Maybe to some of you it seems strange to think about a children’s movie in this way, but I feel like that movie may have been slightly exaggerated and that’s my childhood so sue me. At any rate it really made me want to watch it!

It was kind of nice that we got back to Florence when we did because on Sunday night Grace and I were able to go to the international market. Apparently each season they have a market and we were able to go enjoy the fall market. However, we will sadly not be around to enjoy the Christmas market as we will be heading home. People from all over Europe come to sell their products and there were even people from Brazil. I was able to take a lot of pictures, but sadly being the dumb blonde that I am I somehow managed to ruin my film. Nice going dork! It was okay though because I was able to get some good souvenirs and enjoy more than just the Italian culture. It is good to be back in Florence, and I am going to try to make the most out of the time I have left. I will see you all soon and hopefully it won’t be snowing too badly when I get back. I can dream!

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