Rome is an Architectural Lasagna

– Originally posted on HDCS Masters Student Nicky’s blog, Broke Girl in Paris –
For the past 4 nights and 5 days I have been in the motherland of pizza, pasta and Aperol Spritz.

While many of my friends packed up their things to head to more tropical destinations for Spring Break, I went on my own to Rome, Italy, and embedded myself in the art, culture and most importantly food offered.

To start, I booked my round trip tickets through Sky Scanner.. not realizing I was not going to a classic Paris airport… but one over an hour away.. in Tille. My flight left at 9:00 am, meaning I had to be there by 8:20 latest, so my shuttle bus there was at 7:00 am and I live about a 30 minute metro ride away. Needless to say, I was up at 5:00 am trecking through the rain to the pick up point. However, the mid flight view was worth it.

Finally making it to Rome by 12:00, I headed to my hostel, dropped off my bag and head out for my first day in the city. I walked over 30,000 steps from the Trevi Fountain to the Pinco lookout, through the Roman Forum and past the colosseum. I stopped for an aperitivo, read my book, A Moveable Feast by Hemmingway, and soaked up the Italian rays. With my first day being the one day I had no plans, I found myself finally making it back to my hostel by 9:00 pm. I had already eaten a full pizza, and a huge bowl of cacio e pepe, a delish Roman pasta made with fresh noodles, cheese and pepper. You would be shocked by what a good fresh noodle can do to a pasta dish.

My second day, I explored the Colosseum, learning about the ins and outs of how the movie, Gladiator, totally missed the mark on what a day in the games looked like. I walked through the entire Roman Forum, looking at the ancient ruins of temples made for iconic figures like Julius Caesar and the Vestal Virgins. by 12:40, I was overlooking the view from Palantine Hill. After I observed every inch of the view, I ran to the metro and got myself to the Vatican Museums, where I finally got to see the works I had studied so intensely in my undergrad. After winding through the museums, I ended up at the Sistine Chapel.. however I was totally shocked to find out the ceiling had been trademarked. Did you know the Japanese helped in restoring the Vatican City, and in return, asked to trademark the stunning Michelangelo creation and any royalties from its income within the gift shops of the Vatican? Neither did I. However, a photo could not do this room justice anyway. To see the fully decorated chapel in person was indescribable.

Michelangelo was truly a revolutionary.. and also very petty, but his motives behind the ceiling were good humour regardless. I also definitely cried finally seeing St. Peters Basilica and the Pietà. I went through this venue with City Wonders, a company I am lucky enough to work for here in Paris. The tourguide made the history behind the Vatican super memorable and enjoyable.

To end this evening, I walked to a nearby district and grabbed a fresh made bowl of pasta from a local favourite, Tonnarello. I sat out on the patio, having extreme deja vu of the last time I was in Rome with my family. However, the last time I was in Rome, I had no idea what I was looking at, and I remember begging my mom and dad to take my sister and I to McDonalds in the middle of a rainstorm blocks and blocks away from our Hotel, instead of eating some fresh pizza or pasta… but I was happy to finally make up for it.

The next day, I was up bright and early… and on a bus on my way to Tuscany for the day! Once again, City Wonders was beyond helpful. We stopped in Montepulciano, and saw the Twilight New Moon set and the Medici crests everywhere. Next, we were in on a vineyard, Brunello Di Montalcino Vineyard to be exact, enjoying an antipasto, homemade Pici pasta and 4 delicious wines from Brunellos, the regions most extravagant wine, to a sweet dessert white wine. Soon after, we were in Montalcino, and saw The Abbey of Sant’Antimo until we made it to our last stop, Pienza, looking at the chapels, buying some pecorino cheese and taking in our last views of the Tuscan countryside. Finally making it home, I stopped in to a local pizza parlor and tried a bunch of little slices as the place was a “pay per pound” shop.

My last full day, I wandered through Italy again, stopping at some shops, getting lost in the alleys and enjoying yet another hot day. Later that afternoon, I went to observe the Roman Crypts and Catacombs, a very unknown tourist attraction. The Crypts were prefaced by a chapel and some Caravaggio paintings, which could not have prepared me enough for the Crypts… which were all extremely ornate with human bones. Yes. You read that properly, human bones. The history in Crypts was overwhelming and equally discomforting yet beautiful.

To end off my final dinner in Rome, I grabbed a pizza to go from a local “pay per pound” and went to the Trevi Fountain, which yes, was very busy. But sitting there listing to a podcast under the stars with the beauty of the fountain and the beauty of my pizza in front of me, I found myself in such a happy, content and peaceful state.

Now, back to Paris!