Our final destination on our Italian journey was Rome. As an American, Rome brought with it a whole other host of issues…but I’ll get to that.
Day 4.2 – Rome
We arrived in Rome at 5pm and had no issues settling into our hostel. (Thank God. I honestly don’t think I could have handled the stress of having to find another one…)
Considering the early hour, we dropped our stuff and made our way to view the Pantheon and the Trevi Fountain, as we had been told that both look just as lovely (if not more so) at night.
My wish, I’m ashamed to say, was completely wasted. I wished that I’d achieve a good grade on a non-weighted essay that I should have been working on rather than traveling through Italy. I’ll just take that to mean that I’ll have to go back some day and wish for something better.
Day 5 – Vatican City
My travel partner and I are the worst sort of Catholics imaginable. That is to say…I’m Jewish and she’s Christian. As such, we took Vatican City by storm and conquered it as if it were another museum. Luckily, we were wise enough to buy tickets online and as such, got to bypass the line!!
I got some great shots of ceilings:
To my eternal dismay (but begrudging understanding) there is no photography allowed in the Sistine Chapel. It was beautiful and moving. I wasn’t expecting to spend any considerable amount of time in there, but I found myself stopping and actually sitting to allow myself time to absorb what I was looking at.
We saw lots of statues and because I’m an awful person, I snapped a few photos so I could add some snarky comments.
I saw art from notable artists. Even though I’m not a huge art fan, I do have a healthy respect for names I recognize. I think that stems from my obsession with White Collar a while back.
And we finally wound our way around the walls of Vatican City to find Piazza San Pietro/St. Peter’s Square and Basilica di San Pietro/St. Peter’s Basilica. It was, of course, raining.
It was at this point that I realized we had made a booking error. In attempting to book an English tour at the Colosseum, the tickets printed were for the day after we left Italy. In an attempt to correct the mistake, we went to the Colosseum to see if they could move up our tour one day. Unfortunately, they could not.
Strike three for Alison.
Partially defeated, we took the long way (we’ll just call it the scenic route) back to the hostel. Along the walk, I found this!
I can only assume that this is a direct result of the tornado that hit Rome a day before we arrived.
Back at the hostel, we recouped (changed our socks) and headed back out to find the Spanish Steps. It turned out to be one of my favorite lookout points in the city.
We wandered around the Spanish Quarter a bit before heading back to the hostel (again) to get ready to find dinner. We settled on a location on the other side of the River Tiber, at the recommendation of the guidebook. We walked a solid 45 minutes to find Dar Poeta. It was another pizza place (though not nearly as good as the pizza from Florence). I ordered a Nutella and Ricotta Cannoli for dessert, which apparently they are famous for. It was delectable and rich. I couldn’t finish it but it was sooo good.
As we wandered our way back to the Alessandro Downtown hostel, we stopped by the Jewish Quarter to try out another recommendation; fried artichoke. Holy goodness, all. They were delicious.
And then the trip got interesting.
The Part Where Day 5 Bleeds into Day 6
The election coverage started at 10:30pm. I camped out in the common area of the hostel and decided I was in it for the long haul. I only made it till about 3:00am however. This was before Trump had won Florida.
I went back to bed and crashed for about an hour, waking up at 4:00am in my anxiety to check Twitter. What I saw wasn’t good, so I did my best to go back to sleep. I made it till 6:00am before giving it up as a bad job and scrolling (and constantly refreshing) my Twitter feed. By 8:00am, it was unofficial, but it was pretty much confirmed. Trump had won the electoral college and would be the next President of the United States.
I knew we had a full day ahead of us, so I got up and got dressed. I felt too sick to eat. I ended up being ready roughly 30 minutes early, so we went to check out. As we stood at the desk waiting our turn, I went to the common area to see what was happening and witnessed approximately 30 seconds of the acceptance speech before I burst into tears.
(A lack of sleep and the apocalypse will do that to you…)
My travel companion tried to console me but….on to the Colosseum. All I can say is that the entire day was kind of a fog. A jumble of “What’s going to happen to my visa?” “Do I want to go home?” “Will I be allowed back into the UK?” “What about my LGTBQ friends?” “It’s alarming that the number of phone calls to the suicide hotline jumped as high as it did.” “But really, is it that alarming, given what Trump has been promising?” “How could the US elect him?” And finally, the best and worst part, “But he didn’t win the popular vote…”
To extend the metaphor…that was the whole ball game.
I’ll let my pictures speak for me, because honestly? I don’t remember taking most of them.
We then walked “next door” to the Roman Forum; a smattering of ruins running throughout a large chunk of the newer city.
From there, gelato was necessary. 100% necessary. We went back to the hostel, got our bags, and made our way to the airport.
Aside from a few snags, my trip was quite excellent. Every time I travel, I learn new things. Since returning home, I’ve switched mobile providers so I will have data in Europe moving forward. I’ve booked two more trips in this year alone (Spain and Belgium.) These trips, however, I will be going alone. I’m looking forward to the freedom traveling alone provides. I’ve only ever once traveled solo and that was a day-trip to Tzfat when I lived in Israel. It will definitely be an all-together different experience (certainly no more pictures of my back, that’s for sure…)
And that was Italy! I fully intend to go back. I still want to visit Naples, Pompei, Tuscany, and Cinque Terra, so look out for those at some point in the next year. But next stop? Barcelona!