Shaffer Girls Take Italy: Rome

Shaffer Girls Take Italy: Rome

Wednesday: The last two days of our sister travels were spent in Rome. When we first got there, we checked into our hotel and headed to lunch. Laur and I shared pizza for lunch. The girls quickly realized that there were mainly two options in Italy: pizza or pasta. They were each on a rotating … Read more

Wednesday:
The last two days of our sister travels were spent in Rome. When we first got there, we checked into our hotel and headed to lunch. Laur and I shared pizza for lunch. The girls quickly realized that there were mainly two options in Italy: pizza or pasta. They were each on a rotating schedule, pizza one night, pasta the next, pizza the night after that… and so on. However, as mentioned before, we also broke up the pizza and pasta spree with nutella covered waffles and gelato for lunch on some days. One night I asked the girls if we could order bruschetta and Laur was iffy on whether or not she would like it since she doesn’t like tomatoes. However, after having it in Florence for the first time, she then ordered it two more times after that! I was so happy that she loved it!

The first afternoon in Rome was spent window shopping and walking around the city. We also made sure to visit the Trevi Fountain so that the girls could make their wishes and toss their coins in, ensuring them a return trip to Rome one day.

me

Our last day we went to the Colosseum! Although I have been there twice before, I never went inside since I wanted to experience it with my sisters. We all loved it! It was really interesting to walk around inside, especially knowing that there were actual fights to the death inside. After the Colosseum we headed to the Pantheon, doing some shopping along the way, and then made our way to the Sistine Chapel. Since I had already visited St.Peter’s Basilica, Linds suggested we see the Sistine Chapel instead. While we were all exhausted from walking around so much the past few days, it felt like it took years to finally reach the Sistine Chapel. However, it was worth seeing! The colors on the ceiling were so bright and it left me wondering how it could still be vibrant after all these years.

lindsnme

For our last meal together, it was a pasta night all around. After taking our time with dinner, we then headed to a gelateria that Linds and Val discovered by the Pantheon, called La Palma. It offers 150 flavors of gelato! As everyone knows how indecisive I am, it probably is no shock that it took me over 20 minutes to decide which flavor I wanted. I ended up with Kit Kat and Mars, a chocolate and caramel mixture. We cuddled up together on a bench inside the gelateria since it was cold out, enjoyed our last gelato together and each stated what our favorite part of our trip together was. Linds’ favorite was the duomo in Florence while Laur’s was the Colosseum, which is so funny considering Linds didn’t originally care to go to Florence and Laur didn’t have much interest in Rome. Val’s favorite was Cinque Terre and mine was the gondola ride in Venice. I love that each of our favorite memories happened in different places along our trip.

laurnme

I will never forget the week spent with my sisters and Val. While I am having the trip of a lifetime in Italy, every beautiful or amazing thing I see, I always wish that my family were there to experience it with me and that they had the opportunity to see it as well. I was so happy that my sisters were experiencing Italy right along with me. Laur and Linds are my best friends and this trip with them will forever be one of my favorite memories.

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!

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.