Anything Can Happen in Paris

Anything Can Happen in Paris

Day 3: Saturday I woke up early Saturday morning, wanting to take full advantage of my last day in Paris. First stop was the bakery for breakfast. I was sad that there were so many French pastries left to try and yet no more days left to try them, so I purchased an éclair along … Read more


Day 3: Saturday

train station

I woke up early Saturday morning, wanting to take full advantage of my last day in Paris. First stop was the bakery for breakfast. I was sad that there were so many French pastries left to try and yet no more days left to try them, so I purchased an éclair along with my breakfast pastry to try later on in the day. (While walking down Champs Elysees Avenue, attempting to be a lady but failing miserably, I ended up shoving the DELICIOUS éclair in my mouth while cream was pouring out onto every inch of my face. A French man walks by laughing his head off, saying “Bon Appetit!” Cue embarrassed, red-faced Hannah.)

paris fashion

While the rest of the group wanted to do separate things, I decided to venture out on my own. I was a bit nervous at first, but I loved every single second of it. I felt like such a city girl, and so grown up, hopping the metros with my vanilla chai tea latte in hand and camera in tow. I first went to the Arc de Triomphe and then walked up and down the most famous shopping street in Paris, Champs Elysees.

arc de triomphe

After a few hours of window shopping, picture taking and strolling the streets of Paris, I met up with my friend Tyler at the Eiffel Tower for a little photo shoot! He loves taking pictures and wants to be a professional photographer someday. We had fun joking around and snapping photos. There were people taking pictures of HIM taking pictures since he was lying in the busy streets for half of the shoot. Leave it to Tyler to “have to shoot from the perfect angle”…risking his life in the process. After the photo shoot I purchased my THIRD Nutella banana crepe (I told you I was obsessed!) and then headed to meet Kevin and Henal for some souvenir shopping and dinner. For dinner I wanted to try French onion soup. I would have never ordered this in America, but I wanted to try an authentic French dish. It was pretty good!

photoshoot

Kevin and Henal wanted to see the Arc de Triomphe and I wanted to make one last trip to see the Eiffel Tower sparkle at night, so we headed our separate ways. I hopped on the metro and when I arrived at the Tower I sat down on a nearby park bench. It was 11 p.m. on the dot and the Tower began to sparkle. I was so happy to be ending my trip with one last trip to the Eiffel Tower. Paris is something I will never forget for the rest of my life and will always be a reminder to me that no dream is too big.

Check out my video from Paris here!

Day Two in the City that Always Sparkles

Day Two in the City that Always Sparkles

Day 2: Friday Le Grenier a Pain bakery: I purchased a chocolate chip roll for breakfast and my first macaroon (a pink one!) to save for a mid-morning snack Metro ride to Tuileries Garden: while the garden wasn’t really “alive” since it was winter, it was pretty nonetheless and I loved the surrounding palace and … Read more

Day 2: Friday

  • Le Grenier a Pain bakery: I purchased a chocolate chip roll for breakfast and my first macaroon (a pink one!) to save for a mid-morning snack
  • Metro ride to Tuileries Garden: while the garden wasn’t really “alive” since it was winter, it was pretty nonetheless and I loved the surrounding palace and distant view of the Eiffel Tower, ferris wheel and Arc de Triomphe
  • The Louvre: While I was excited to see the famous Mona Lisa, I was very underwhelmed. It is actually very small and, compared to all of the other incredible paintings, it was not very impressive. However, it was still awesome to see! We walked around for over three hours, only seeing one small section in the Louvre!
  • louvre

  • Poor, traveling college student lunch: Kevin purchased an 80 cent French baguette and some cheese from the supermarket and we sat on a bus bench passing it around. It was the most fresh tasting baguette I have ever had! Very good.
  • Pont des Arts Bridge: This was definitely one of my favorite things in Paris. I was so excited to write my name on a lock, lock it to the bridge and toss the key in the Seine River. To all you cute French men, I’d greatly appreciate if you found that key ASAP.
  • pont des arts bridge

  • Berthillon Ice Cream: I read in my Paris guide book that this ice cream was the absolute best ice cream in Paris, so we of course had to give it a try! I decided to go with a classic and picked chocolate. It was very thick, rich and delicious!
  • Notre Dame: Our next stop was the cathedral of Notre Dame, where we got to see the nine new bells the cathedral received in honor of its 850th birthday! The original bells were destroyed in the French Revolution and replaced by bells that were said to be very out of tune. Now, these new bells are replacing the 19th century bells. The bells will only be on display until February 25 and I thought it was so cool that I am one of the few thousand who will ever get to see the new bells!
  • bells

  • Carousel and Eiffel Tower: We headed over to the Eiffel Tower next to make our way to the top! Since the line was a bit long, my friend Henal and I crossed the street to the beautiful carousel. I have seen the carousel in front of the Tower in pictures and have always dreamed of taking a ride. Afterwards, we took our places in line for the Tower. It was beyond worth the wait! I was so excited and the view of the city from the top is amazing. However, I preferred the view from the second level since it was easier to pick out favorite landmarks in the city!
  • Perfect ending to a perfect day: After the Eiffel Tower, my friend Kevin said, “Let’s end our night the right way and get some crepes!” We all burst into laughter. As if ending the night climbing to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris wasn’t perfect enough. However, none of us argued as we headed over to the crepe stand, next to the carousel, and purchased heavenly Nutella banana crepes.

crepes

J’adore Paris, Where all my Dreams Came True

J’adore Paris, Where all my Dreams Came True

There are no words, images or videos that could possibly express how absolutely perfect, sparkly and beautiful Paris is. I felt as though all of my dreams came true the moment I arrived in the fairy tale city and saw the twinkling Eiffel Tower for the first time. Day 1: Valentine’s Day We started Valentine’s Day off … Read more

There are no words, images or videos that could possibly express how absolutely perfect, sparkly and beautiful Paris is. I felt as though all of my dreams came true the moment I arrived in the fairy tale city and saw the twinkling Eiffel Tower for the first time.

Day 1: Valentine’s Day

french bakery

We started Valentine’s Day off with a visit to “Le Grenier a Pain,” the cutest little bakery that was a short walk from the apartment that we rented during our stay. The French man we rented from put together a little book for us with maps of the city and suggestions for places to eat, shop and visit. His bakery suggestion was my favorite, as I found myself there each morning testing out a different pastry.

rainy day

After breakfast at the bakery we headed to see the Eiffel Tower. However, soon into our walk the group decided to stop since it was pouring down rain and we were soaked head to toe due to a huge truck that zoomed past us on the street. We hopped on the metro to do some shopping indoors instead. The street we found ourselves at was lined with tons of clothing shops. We stopped at a café where I had my first Nutella banana crepe. Big mistake. Huge. I am now seriously obsessed and found myself purchasing three more Nutella banana crepes within the next two days of my stay.

crepes

After a full day of ducking into shops to keep out of the pouring rain and cold, we came across a Starbucks and were all so excited since Italy has no Starbucks, or such a thing as flavored drinks. I ordered a vanilla chai tea latte and have never loved it so much. I was just so excited to have something familiar from home I think… and something to warm me up from the cold!

That night, the group wanted to get sushi for dinner, so I went along and got my first sushi. My first sushi? In Paris? Yes, I know. I ordered sushi with avocado and crab meat and surprisingly I really liked it!

I was a bit disappointed that we did not see much of Paris the first day, but when I think back on it now I am ashamed that I felt that way. How could I be disappointed? I was IN PARIS. That alone was such a blessing.

eiffel tower

After dinner, Nicole, Caleb, their baby Lila and I went to see the Eiffel Tower. I think that may have been the most special and memorable moment of my entire trip. I stood there in front of the Tower for the first time as it began to sparkle (which it does only the first five minutes of every hour) and felt like every dream I have ever had came true. It was my first real fairy tale moment. The Eiffel Tower sparkling is my favorite sight in the entire world. I promised myself that I would go see the Tower sparkle each night I was there.

Let Life Happen

Let Life Happen

After hitting the snooze button twice, I reluctantly rolled out of bed to get ready for class. I dragged my purple slippered feet to the balcony window and pulled back the floor length curtain to see the usual, dreary grey Italian sky and rain pouring from the sad clouds above. I saw that it was … Read more

After hitting the snooze button twice, I reluctantly rolled out of bed to get ready for class. I dragged my purple slippered feet to the balcony window and pulled back the floor length curtain to see the usual, dreary grey Italian sky and rain pouring from the sad clouds above. I saw that it was going to be a floral rainboot and polka dot umbrella kind of day, yet again. I struggled to get ready, changing my clothes in approximately 3o seconds flat since the apartment felt about 15 degrees fahrenheit. Slipping in to my rain gear, I then walked down the apartment stairs and out into the street.

I decided to go to the café across from the apartment for a breakfast pastry, and my bleak mood altered immediately upon walking in the door. Buongiorno’s rung throughout the air and smiles were seen on every face in the café. It seemed as though I have made their day, just by entering the café doors. Upon entering any café, restaurant, office or little shop in Viterbo, you are immediately greeted with a warm smile and truly genuine greeting. Not only the café employees, but the customers as well, treat you, a complete stranger, as if you are family. I felt as though I have been coming to this café for years, as a regular customer.

After the café, I made the trek to the Santa Maria di Gradi campus in the torrential downpour and relentless winds, walking as fast as my legs could possibly carry me. I am always in a hurry in Italy, rushing to get out of the cold and rain. The quaint little shops and medieval buildings are simply blurs; I see only my feet as I keep my head down, attempting to avoid the brutal wind. My mood returned to its downhearted state. That is until I entered my classroom and was greeted once again with multiple friendly ciao’s and sincere smiles from my teacher and classmates.

The smiles and heartfelt greetings continued throughout the day, upon arrival at the supermarket, the book store and the restaurant I met friends at for dinner. In America, if you are lucky, you may get a “hi” or a “welcome to so and so..,” if it is company policy to say so. And even then, you are only greeted with a half-smile, one that is nine times out of 10 forced.

Shortly after my arrival in Italy, I was told that it is easy to separate an Italian from an American. While Americans make life happen, Italians let life happen. Italians live in a world where “to go” orders, pizza deliveries and driers do not exist. They are in no hurry to get from point A to point B. While their snail-like moving pace on the streets simply annoyed me when I first arrived, I began to realize that perhaps they are not the ones who have it all wrong.

While American waitresses bring the check to your table almost immediately after setting your main course down, you have to ask for the bill to be brought to your table in Italy. Americans seem as though they are on a mission 24/7, always in “go, go, go” mode, while Italians have “pausa pranzo.” From 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. each day, almost all shops and businesses are closed. This time is set aside for rest, a break from business for a few hours, time to see family or enjoy lunch with friends.

While I was rushing my way to class each day, I wasn’t experiencing Viterbo. I wasn’t giving myself the opportunity to experience Italy. I never saw the friendly smiles on the streets. I never noticed the rows of optimistic flower pots placed along little shop walls. While I was only focused on the cold and rain in the morning, I wasn’t appreciating the beautiful view I had of the Viterbo sunrise from my balcony, or even realizing how blessed I am to have the opportunity to be studying in Italy.

balcony

While Italians find it a pleasure to take time to send warm greetings to everyone upon arrival, I find that a simple greeting when entering a café is enough to turn someone’s entire day around, enough to remind them to slow down and take the time to appreciate life. Taking time to acknowledge someone sincerely, and sending them a smile, can change their entire perspective. Some view Italians’ slow pace and relaxed attitudes as laziness, but I argue that it’s not laziness at all, but appreciation and love of life. While I’ve been spending the last 20 years in a rush, always on the go, trying to make life happen, I think it’s now time to simply let life happen.

Benvenuti in Italia, Papà!

Benvenuti in Italia, Papà!

Benvenuti in Italia, Papà! I am so lucky that dad could visit this weekend before heading to Germany for a work trip. While hearing stories from home made me miss my family even more, having him here also cured a lot of my homesickness and I was so excited to share Italy with him. After Italian … Read more

Benvenuti in Italia, Papà! I am so lucky that dad could visit this weekend before heading to Germany for a work trip. While hearing stories from home made me miss my family even more, having him here also cured a lot of my homesickness and I was so excited to share Italy with him.

After Italian class Thursday morning, I pulled up a chair and waited anxiously for any sign of dad in the piazza below my apartment. After finishing homework and still seeing no trace of him, I pulled on my jacket and gloves to go searching. However, before heading out the door I glanced out the window once more and saw him coming around the corner. The man’s a trooper. It was freezing outside, pouring down rain, and he was towing along two roller suitcases on the cobblestone streets, along with his lap top bag thrown over his shoulder (keep in mind one entire suitcase was filled with mac & cheese, ramen noodles, nutter butter cookies, special k bars and tons of my favorite snacks from my family. What can I say? They’re the best.) I was so excited and ran down the stairs of the apartment as quickly as I could to greet him with a “buon giorno!” and a big hug.

The rest of the day I showed him around Viterbo; my apartment, the university campus, some of my favorite shops and a pretty church I had previously visited for art class. I also took him to one of my favorite cafes for his first Italian pastry. Later that night, we went to The Spaghetteria for dinner. There was no menu that night; they just brought out dishes. While this made us a bit nervous as first, I was happy that they brought out two dishes I would have NEVER ordered on my own, yet I loved. The first spaghetti dish had bell peppers, chili and olive oil while the second was a dish with mushroom sauce. I know, I can’t believe I ate it either, but I am so glad that I did! Dad booked a hotel in Viterbo and I got to stay there with him while he visited. Hot showers, heat and free breakfast… of course I had to take him up on that offer.

monster garden

Friday I wanted to take dad for a day trip, so we decided to go to the Monster Park, also called “Basco Sacro,” meaning “Sacred Wood,” in Bomarzo. Since I told dad that I never used the bus system before and I wasn’t sure how it works, he was a bit iffy about going. He assured me many times that he was content staying in Viterbo, but I had confidence that I could figure it out on my own. Whether it was confidence, or believing dad would fix it if I messed up along the way, I’m not sure… but let’s just go with the first one. It ended up being a great trip and the Monster Park was so cool! The artist created these unique sculptures to “confuse the senses” and cause amazement for anyone that entered the woods.

trevi fountain with dad

Saturday morning we woke up super early, grabbed breakfast at the hotel and took off for Rome. Our hotel was literally a minute walk away from the Trevi Fountain, my absolute favorite spot in Rome. I took dad on the tour that I went on my first time in Rome and he got to see the Vatican, Piazza Navona, the Pantheon and the Colosseum. We also went to the Trevi Fountain and Spanish Steps after dark to see them lit up. I made sure that dad also had his first gelato (as well as a few chocolate pastries throughout the weekend), which he really liked. I am much more confident with the metro system now and we were handling it like pros on Saturday.

coloseum

While dad was bowing at the taxi drivers and saying “gracias,” to everyone when he first arrived (too many business trips to Japan and Mexico), I was extremely proud when he replied “grazie” to the hotel manager after checking out… better late than never right? After our last breakfast together Sunday morning (a chocolate pastry for me, of course), we headed to Termini train station for dad to head to the airport and for me to get back “home.” I was really nervous about finding and taking my first train alone, but it all worked out in the end and I made it back safely in Viterbo!

It was such a great weekend and I don’t even have time to be sad that it’s over because I am going to PARIS this week for Valentine’s Day!!! Au revoir Italy, Bonjour Paris!

Reflection

It has now been one month since I have moved to Italy and I have already seen and learned so much about not only the world, but also about myself. I wanted to look back and reflect on this past month. Highlights: Tossing a coin in the Trevi Fountain Watching the sun set over the … Read more

It has now been one month since I have moved to Italy and I have already seen and learned so much about not only the world, but also about myself. I wanted to look back and reflect on this past month.

Highlights:

  1. Tossing a coin in the Trevi Fountain
  2. Watching the sun set over the beautiful city of Florence (while being serenaded)
  3. My discovery of European chocolate and tiramisu gelato

Hardest part:

  1. Missing my family and friends (this could actually take spots 2 and 3 as well)
  2. The brutal walks and classes outside in the cold
  3. Adjusting to Italian culture; accepting that it’s not “wrong,” it’s just different!

Biggest disappointments:

  1. The extremely thin, burnt Italian pizza
  2. American music playing everywhere in Viterbo
  3. Trying my hardest at speaking Italian in Rome and being replied to in English

What I’m most looking forward to now:

  1. Seeing the Eiffel Tower sparkle at night
  2. Girls’ trip to Sicily
  3. The upcoming winery field trip

After all that has happened in the first month alone, I can’t wait to see what February has in store!

Weekend fun in Viterbo

Weekend fun in Viterbo

The weather in Viterbo this weekend was beautiful and today did not disappoint either. The sun has been making many appearances lately and I am loving every second of it. They say that February is the worst month in terms of weather here, but I am hoping that we experienced the worst in January. This … Read more

The weather in Viterbo this weekend was beautiful and today did not disappoint either. The sun has been making many appearances lately and I am loving every second of it. They say that February is the worst month in terms of weather here, but I am hoping that we experienced the worst in January.

This past weekend was a lot of fun and I stayed right here in Viterbo. I thought I might get bored not traveling outside of the city, but it was relaxing, fun and proved just how much I have left to discover about this quaint, enchanting city.

Friday I went to the hot springs with a few friends. We missed the bus by about 20 minutes, so instead of waiting another hour we took a taxi ride there, which was only about seven euros for a 10 minute drive. The taxi driver dropped us off at the hot springs, which you have to pay for and we had no idea where the free ones were. Thankfully, we had Nerea with us, a fellow study abroad student from Spain, and she was able to communicate with a local and ask her where the free hot springs were. The lady was so nice and told us to jump in and she would take us! So, the six of us crowded into her little car and she drove us there. It was not at all what I expected. There was nowhere to change and it was literally a huge hole in the ground, in the middle of a field, with steaming water. It was extremely awkward stripping down to our bathing suits since the Italians stare. A lot. We were told when we arrived here not to take any offense to the staring, that Italians are just curious. However, dying my hair brown and getting dark colored contact lenses, in attempt to blend in a little more, is a tempting thought. After getting past the staring, the rotten smell and not questioning the extremely mushy substance at the bottom, the hot springs were so relaxing! We stayed for about two hours and then reluctantly jumped out and changed back into our clothes (imagine six girls holding up towels for eachother, hiding behind small plants, trying to change in front of 20 staring Italians). We were not sure where the bus would pick us up and long story short… I have no doubt that the bus driver was doubled over laughing as he saw us in his rear-view mirror running down the road after the bus, waving as frantically as we could, to get his attention to let us hop on.

Friday and Saturday night my roommates and I went out at night for the first time in Viterbo. Heading out around midnight was a bit difficult for me, since I usually go to bed around 11 p.m., but hey, do as the Italians do, right? While I am not a big party girl, I had so much fun! All of us girls got fruity drinks and danced at the “Book Bar.” A lot of students from our program were there, but we also got to meet many local Italians! I only understood about two sentences that the Italians were saying, but they weren’t at all upset that I couldn’t communicate that easily. They actually taught me some phrases and words that they use.

sarah

Sarah and I walked up to the bar and asked for “a Blossom con no alcoholico” and the bar tender replied, “Oh my heart breaks! Per que no alcoholico?!” When we just laughed, he said “OK, but next time… ALCOHOLICO!” He put bananas and strawberries in the frozen drink and it will most likely be my “go to” drink this semester.

I am so excited for this week because my dad surprised me and told me that he is coming to visit! He was asked to go to Germany for work, so he is going to stop in Italy before heading there. I can’t wait to show him around Viterbo and take him to a few of my favorite places!

Ciao for now!

Firenze Forever

Firenze Forever

This weekend I discovered Italian chocolate. If you love American chocolate, boy are you in for a treat if you get the chance to taste chocolate in Europe. My entire weekend involved chocolate, and I loved every bit of it. This past Saturday morning my roommates and I decided to take a trip to Florence. … Read more


This weekend I discovered Italian chocolate. If you love American chocolate, boy are you in for a treat if you get the chance to taste chocolate in Europe. My entire weekend involved chocolate, and I loved every bit of it.

This past Saturday morning my roommates and I decided to take a trip to Florence. We woke up at 6 a.m. to catch the first train out of Viterbo. After the first train, we had a half hour layover until the next one, so we stopped in the train station’s café and ordered pastries for breakfast. Since my arrival in Italy, I’ve always chosen the fruit pastries, but I decided it was time to test out the chocolate. I picked out a croissant filled with half cream and half chocolate. It was so good! The chocolate just melts in your mouth. It is nothing like American chocolate.

After four hours of traveling, we finally reached Florence. Although I always heard good things about Florence, it was not at the top of my “must see” list. I did not have very high expectations for the city, since I heard it was mostly known for museums. Wow, was I wrong. Florence is absolutely beautiful. The pictures I took do not do it justice whatsoever. Unlike any other buildings I have seen in Italy, these buildings were not only decorated incredibly, but were also colored with light greens and pinks. I loved the colored details.

duomo

First we saw the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore, the main church in Florence (also known at the Duomo) and decided to climb to the top! We got the work out of a lifetime while climbing all 463 stairs to the top and it was so worth it. The view of the city from the top was amazing. After the Duomo we went to a museum that held marble, gems and collections from the Medici family (the family who ruled Florence back in the day)! We grabbed sandwiches for lunch and then walked on the Ponte Vecchio Bridge. The bridge was lined with jewelry shops galore. Supposedly the Medici family owned it in the past and sold jewelry there. We then went to the Pitti Palace to see the Boboli Gardens! Unfortunately, we missed the last tour of the gardens by two minutes.

ponte vecchio

Since the sun was setting soon, my roommate Min (who has been to Florence previously) wanted to take us to Michelangelo Square, which is a very high hill top, in order to see the entire city of Florence. The hike there took a while. However, what was waiting for us was beyond worth it. The sun setting over Florence was literally breathtaking. At the top, there was a set of stairs and an Italian musician playing the guitar and singing. Being the sensitive girls that we are, my roommates and I all started crying while listening to Fabio (made up name) serenade us and watching the sun set over Florence. The tears were then followed by tons of laughter though, as we realized how emotional we were.

michealangelo hill

We then did a little window shopping and grabbed gelato at the cutest gelateria (I chose tiramisu and chocolate chip this time, on a chocolate waffle cone – my second taste of Italian chocolate).

The next morning we went back to the gelateria and ordered chocolate waffles for breakfast! So nutritional, I know. I also asked for a latte, expecting a glass of cold milk. However, I was brought a steaming glass of milk. Whoops. I will have to ask for “un latte freddo” next time. The waffle was delicious, but also made me miss mom and the strawberry waffles that she makes.

waffles

We did some more shopping since we saw so many sites the day before and then got gelato again, right before hopping on the train for home (attempting to try something new each time, I got mint gelato). On the train ride home, we taught Min some American slang words and phrases and in return she taught us a few Korean words. I think I am learning just as much about Korean culture as I am learning about Italian culture while living here.

We got home late Sunday night and, once again, we were all exhausted. However, it was nice to be “home.” Our program advisor told us upon our arrival that we would soon consider Viterbo “home,” but I didn’t really believe him. It’s funny how soon you can adapt and view someplace new as your home. While I thought there would never be any competition for my favorite city, I am now torn between the huge, magical city of Rome and the quaint, beautiful city of Florence. Firenze forever!

When in Rome

When in Rome

There are almost no words to describe Rome. This weekend I got to travel to the city and it surpassed all of my expectations. From eating my first gelato in front of the Trevi Fountain to standing with my polka dot umbrella in front of the Colosseum, I felt as though I was living out … Read more

There are almost no words to describe Rome. This weekend I got to travel to the city and it surpassed all of my expectations. From eating my first gelato in front of the Trevi Fountain to standing with my polka dot umbrella in front of the Colosseum, I felt as though I was living out a scene in a movie. This is the stuff you see on the big screen, with a bag of popcorn on your lap, yet I was seeing it with my own eyes. I still can’t believe I was just a few feet away from the Colosseum. I am so blessed.

The day began with a 7:30 a.m. meeting time to catch the 8 a.m. train. However, since there was about an inch of snow, the train was delayed. We were told that Italy never gets snow, so when it does snow, no one knows what to do. Trains are delayed, people go into major panic and the streets are filled with crazy drivers (and this is different from any other time?). I wasn’t too upset about the delay though, since that meant I had an extra hour to slip into a cozy café and order a breakfast pastry. Although one that I had tried before looked tempting, I promised myself to try new things so I picked out a croissant with wild berry fruit inside. Delicious!

The first thing we saw in Rome was the Vatican. I had no interest in seeing the Vatican, mostly because I had no idea about its significance or history before we went. However, the second I walked inside I was speechless. Every single inch of the walls, ceilings and floors has so much detail. It is absolutely amazing. I could have stayed in the Vatican for hours just staring at the ceiling itself.

vatican

Next we visited the Pantheon. I was surprised to learn that the ceiling of the Pantheon is open and there are slits in the floor to allow for water to drain into when it rains. Mass is still held there even when it rains. We came across the cutest gelato and crepe store right next to the Pantheon that I can’t wait to take my sisters to when they visit!

pantheon

We then visited Piazza Novana, which was a big open piazza with two fountains. Although it was pretty, I was hardly paying attention since our tour guide announced that the Trevi Fountain would be next. I was literally giddy with excitement. I was a bit embarrassed as I could not fight back the biggest smile ever from sliding across my face. Before you see the fountain, you hear the water flowing, which builds even more anticipation. Closing my eyes to make a wish and toss a coin into the Trevi Fountain was definitely the highlight of the trip for me.

After the Trevi Fountain, we visited the Spanish Steps and then we were free for lunch. While the rest of the kids in the program then went back to Viterbo, a group of us decided to stay at a hostel for the night so that we could see more of Rome! Before finding the hostel, we grabbed some gelato and saw the Trevi Fountain lit up. I was so excited for my first gelato. I got melon flavored!

trevi fountain

The next morning we visited the Colosseum! It was so incredible to be standing right there, in front of it. I decided to wait to tour the inside until my sisters visit, so we could do it together.

colosseum

After the Colosseum, we did some souvenir shopping, revisited the Trevi Fountain and Pantheon and grabbed lunch. We then made our way back to the train station so that we could catch the next train back to Viterbo. However, pleased that we got to the station literally three minutes before the train was to arrive, we then noticed we forgot to purchase tickets. Panic mode set in. Our group sent me and two of my roommates to run as fast as we could through the station to buy tickets and return within the next three minutes… even though we just traveled up four flights of stairs, a broken escalator and around the corner from the ticket counter to get to the train platform. I have never ran so fast in my entire life. The fact that I just had a slice of pizza and potato wedges for lunch was not helping whatsoever. There were two people in front of us as we stood at the counter, gasping for air, praying for them to hurry. Of course, the man at the ticket counter decided to take his sweet time. The second he handed us our tickets, I heard the train arrive above. My roommates and I looked at each other and yelled “run!” Back around the corner we went, up four flights of stairs, the broken escalator, and finally to the train platform, all the while wishing that I had skipped the potato wedges and would have been previously trained for a 5k so that I was ready for this moment. We finally reached the top of the train platform, only to see the end of the train pulling away. So, we collapsed onto a bench and had an hour to catch our breath until the next train.

This weekend was absolutely exhausting, but amazing. I am hoping that tossing my coin into the Trevi Fountain does in fact ensure me a return trip to Rome one day.

The Dying Village

The Dying Village

Today was exhausting, yet amazing! This morning I woke up early to go to the open air markets. My roommates and I met with a few other students and our program advisors and walked through a hundred or so little stands of jewelry, shoes, clothing, fabric and little odds and ends. Everything is very cheap … Read more

Today was exhausting, yet amazing! This morning I woke up early to go to the open air markets. My roommates and I met with a few other students and our program advisors and walked through a hundred or so little stands of jewelry, shoes, clothing, fabric and little odds and ends. Everything is very cheap at the market. The highlight of the market for me was the yellow lab puppy that was there. When I ran to pet the puppy, my first instinct was to yell “Hi, puppy!” but instead I said, “Ciao, cucciolo!” I am learning bit by bit.

After the open air market, we went to the fresh fruit market. I bought two fresh tomatoes and fresh mozzarella cheese, with the help of one of our “Italian buddies” from the program. I plan on buying basil and fresh bread tomorrow morning and making some sort of bruschetta for dinner tomorrow night. Afterwards, we walked to the art store and I bought a sketch pad and pencils for my art class! On the way back to the apartment, one of the year-long study abroad students showed us a little park, just outside the city walls. Although it is small, it is very pretty. I already know I will be spending many afternoons with my running shoes or my sketch pad there.

dying village

This afternoon we went on field trip to Civita di Bagnoregio, also known as “The Dying Village.” This village was built by the Etruscans hundreds of years ago. Due to an earthquake, the village is eroding and it is no longer safe to live there. All of the residents had to vacate to a different town. However, we were told that around eight or so people still live there! There are also a few little cafes and shops for tourists. I am not sure if I have ever seen a more beautiful place. It was so peaceful there. While it was absolutely freezing, I found that I often forgot about how cold I was walking around because I was so captivated by the village. However, while I would love to live in such a beautiful place, I believe I would get very lonely since it feels very deserted.

dying village 2

After we got back, my roommates Sarah and Kyung Min, and I went to “The Spaghetteria” for dinner. The Spaghetteria offers 300 different types of spaghetti! Anyone who knows me, knows how ridiculously indecisive I am and can only imagine how long it took me to decide on which dish to order. While my instinct was to order the traditional dish with tomato sauce and fresh herbs, I decided to order the dish called “saruzzo.” The description read: herb field and black olives. While it was not at all what I was expecting, I am proud that I tried something different! It was really good. I am sure that we will go back again to try out another spaghetti dish soon!