Thursday, August 10, 2017

Roman Holiday, Part 3

Here's the link to part 2 if you missed it: Roman Holiday Part 2

Day 8: Vatican City
We wanted to start the day at St. Peter's, but the line was so incredibly long that we thought there wouldn't be enough time to get through it before our appointment at the Vatican museum. We visited the Castel of St Angelo instead. Blake likes castles a lot, so he was happy to see it. We found lunch afterwards at a great pizza by the slice place called Alice Pizza.
The Vatican museum was amazing. Of course the Sistine Chapel was the highlight, and the School of Athens was incredible as well, but I was blown away by the sheer number of amazing works housed here.

 We got some gelato after that and then braved the super long line that wrapped most of the way around St. Peter's square in order to see the Basilica. It was definitely worth the wait. The Pieta was absolutely beautiful, and the rest of the church was grand and amazing. We even did the dome climb. It made me feel pretty claustrophobic in some spots, but they lasted for just short enough of a time that it was okay. The views from the top were beautiful.

We made gnocchi at our apartment for dinner and then ventured out to Trevi Fountain again to see it by night when less people would be there. It was my favorite thing we did in Rome for sure.

Day 9: Pompeii and Naples
An early train took us to Naples, and then we transferred to the Circumvesuivana train to Pompeii. That was an amazing experience. Seeing a whole city that was destroyed in an instant was fascinating and sobering.




We rode the train back into Naples and went to the National Archaeological Museum where they had all of the artifacts and artwork that they had removed from Pompeii, and a collection of other Italian art as well.

Our next mission was to find amazing pizza (Naples is the birthplace of pizza, after all) and some sfogliatella, a delicious pastry I had seen pictures of and just had to have. We found ourselves wandering through a pretty sketchy town. I knew to expect this though, as my dad had warned me about it since he used to live there. We got pizza at Pizzeria di Matteo, and it was fantastic and super cheap! Our next quest was for the sfogliatella. That was not as easy to find. We looked in lots of pastry shops and didn't see any. We searched in the direction of the train station, until we found ourselves in an even worse area immediately surrounding the station. We were on a street that was closed off on one end and just littered with papers and garbage. I've never seen such a cruddy street. But we went in the pastry shop as a last ditch effort. They didn't have sfogliatella in the display boxes, but we asked him if he had any sfogliatella, and he pulled out a pan of them from the back room! We were so happy. He sprinkled powdered sugar on top and gave them to us. And let me tell you, all the effort we went to get them was well worth it. They are by far the best pastry I've ever had in my life! The crust is so flaky and delicious, and the sweet ricotta filling was to die for. It makes me sad to think I might never have one ever again. We made it onto our train without incident this time and escaped Naples with our lives and happy tummies.

Day 10: Villa Borghese
We had a 9am appointment at the Borghese Gallery, and so obviously the metro was like 20 minutes late. We ended up running half the way there from the metro stop (it's pretty far from the metro) and being like 10 minutes late anyways. So I wasn't in the super best mood when we were looking at the artwork there. But it was a beautiful collection, with some fantastic Raphaels.

Next, I wanted to stop at the lake at the Villa Borghese because I thought it looked pretty.

Afterwards, we grabbed lunch at Alice Pizza again and then spent some time packing our bags for our flight early the next morning. We had our last dinner in Italy at a restaurant called La Fornace, which was probably not my favorite restaurant we went to, but it was still good. We spent our last few euros on gelato, an extremely delicious cannoli, gnocchi and pasta to bring home, and some pastries for the next day's breakfast.

Day 11: The flight home
We had our AirBnb host drop us off at the airport, which was very convenient. We had a little bit of trouble getting our boarding passes to print, but eventually we got it all straightened out. Our flight was going fine until we got near the US. There were some storms there that were causing turbulence, and flights were delayed which meant we had to circle for a long, long time. The turbulence was getting really bad, and the temperature on board was getting higher. Those things combined made me very sick, to the point that I puked in those bags they leave behind the seat for you to throw up in. It was basically the worst flight of my life.

We eventually landed in New York, and we made our way through customs, where we had to declare our cheese and they asked us seemingly normal questions about our trip that we could tell were actually being used to determine if they thought we were doing something wrong or not. Eventually they let us through without even checking out our cheese. This airport kicks you out and makes you go through security again for your connecting flight, which is the worst. It took us about an hour to get through, and if our flight wouldn't have been delayed we would have definitely missed it. I decided to try to eat something while we waited, and by the time we got on our last flight I was feeling mostly okay. They made us check our bags even though there was enough space, which ticked us off, but the rest of the flight went just fine, and we made it home alive! Blake made me promise to never fly on an airplane again, but I am totally breaking that promise soon. ;)

We had the best time in Italy, and we couldn't have asked for better travel companions! It was a life's dream come true for me, and I am so grateful we were able to find super cheap tickets and pull off this trip. I saw some of the most beautiful things in the world and ate some of the most delicious food I've ever had in my life. It was a trip of a lifetime, and I'm so glad we did it!