Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Rome and Pompeii

The top two places I wanted to visit while in Italy were Rome and Pompei. This weekend I got to visit both! Pompeii is a little out of the way from Rome (about 3 and half hours), but this was my only chance to visit a city I have wanted to see since sixth grade. I took a flight from Torino to Rome. You can also take a train, and if it is between a flight from Milan to Rome and a train, a train is probably a better option.

Neither Rome or Pompeii were how I was expecting them to be, but I really liked them all the same. From watching movies like The Lizzie Mcguire Movie and To Rome with Love, I imagined Italian pop singers wisking me away on vespas and getting lost on adorable tiny colorful streets. Instead I did a lot of running from one sightseeing place to the next among the thousands of tourists. But this wasn't necessarily bad. I got to visit all the famous and amazing monuments. I just wish I also could have had more time to walk around the other parts of the city and experience the city for what it is besides the major sightseeing places.

Colosseum/Roman Forum: For twelve euros you can visit the forum and colosseum. There are walking and audio tour options, but I enjoyed just taking my time and experiencing the space peacefully. I went on a Sunday, which is their busiest day, and the lines weren't that bad. Unless you are short for time and really want a guided tour, I would just do either the regular ticket or the five euro addition of the audio tour. The forum was one of my favorite places I visited in the city. Definitely worth it.

Trevi Fountain: I went first at night and then again during the day. It was more stunning at night, but go when ever you have time.

Spanish steps: Tourists! I wish I could see them with out mobs of people sitting on them, but I guess that's part of experience of the widest staircase in Europe.

Vatican City: I actually went here twice. First I went to visit Saint Peter's Basilica and the Sistine Chapel. The Basilica, which is the largest in the world is absolutely breathtaking. It is free to get in. I almost fell for a guy advertising tours with the promise of skipping the lines. Don't do it. The line moved pretty quickly and during the wait we got to see the beautiful square. The Sistine Chapel is part of the Vatican museums which are very extensive. Because of time constraints, Katie and I were just really there to see the chapel, but we had to zig zag through rooms of the museum to make it to the chapel. It cost 8 euros for students (bring your id!) and 16 regularly. Be careful, because the sistine chapel is closed on some days like the last sunday of each month.
On Sunday (Palm Sunday), the new Pope Francis gave his first mass, and we got to attend. It is free for any mass, but for this one 250,000 people filled Saint Peter's square. We didn't have tickets, yet we still managed to get seats. It was a really really cool experience despite the fact I'm not catholic, had to get up at 5:30 in the morning, and battle through crowds of people.

You're not allowed to take any photos of the chapel...shhh

Pantheon: The only time I wish it had been raining while I visit a place, was when I stepped inside the Pantheon.

On to the best, Pompeii! We had to take train to Naples and then one of Pompeii. We decided to stop for lunch in Naples because why not and we got pizza because that's what you eat in Naples. On the way back we also stopped in Naples and attempted to find the beach but the metro system was so slow, we got two stops in and had to turn back.
Anyway...I didn't fully realize how awesome the ruins of Pompeii were until I left. Go, go, go! It cost 11 euros to get inside (and I paid 5 euros for a useless audio guide). Katie and I listened in to some of the group tours to pick up facts. For example, old recipe books were found and reviled the heavy use of garlic in their cooking.

Dark chocolate with wine, raspberry and sage,
pear and caramel gelato at Gelateria del Teatro

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