Tuesday, May 4, 2010


The train to Perugia in the region of Umbria was a dream. Rolling green hills and vineyards passing. It was a region frozen in time. Perugia is the capital of the region Umbria, but it was very medieval and still had all the architecture thus. One of my favorite towns in all of Italy, the whole feeling was welcoming and no one spoke english. Also, the nicest people I met in all of Italy in this region. I can't tell you how many people shook my hand. I had great conversations with the most random people. It was bustling too because Al Gore was in town because it was the international journalism conference. The morning air was crisp and a little moist. I went to the lookout point by myself and sat their in the eastern sun looking at the panorama that was spread out before me. This country is so incredible with its secrets. I will never uncover them all...but I can try.

Assisi. The hometown of St. Francis. I have been waiting to go since I arrived, and I am glad I waited until the weather was nicer. The train pulled up to the station and I stepped out with my roommate Alex. We saw Assisi, on the hill overlooking the Umbrian valley. There was not a cloud in the sky and the temperature was absolutely perfect. The bus ride up the hill took 10 minutes and brought us right up to the entrance of Assisi. It was quiet. Sunny. Clean. A beautiful city. The green of the valley looked almost fake but it was very very real. Many hills and alleys in this medieval town. I appreciated the architecture as I passed and watched as monks walked by frequently. The stillness of the whole area was tranquil and reassuring. There were churches every ten feet and the franciscan symbols everywhere. We spent a whole day there relaxing in the fields. Lots of hiking and vineyards. We ate at a great place and then walked around some more visiting the main Church of Saint Francis which was awesome! Assisi was a very touching experience to be so close to something as holy as St. Francis...I loved it.

For now, I venture back to Rome, only a short time left...

Salerno/Sarno/Amalfi Coast/Capri/Pompei/Naples

My mission in Sarno was to acquire the certificates of my great grandparents. I tried this but could not find the exact person to match my description. However I did meet some relatives and stayed with them. They took me by storm. They drove me all over the city to meet more relatives. I could not keep track of who was who and got a ton of practice in italian. They were all so accepting and giving. The hospitality was phenomenal! I ate a HUGE lunch the first day and sat and talked about my life and relatives in the States. Then I went to my cousins house named Danny and I stayed their with him and his mom. I was pampered and doted upon the whole time. I woke up to fresh espresso and a croissant every morning and I spoke in italian the whole time. I then walked around the town and sat at the beach looking out at the coast. These days passed quickly with all the activity and eating. I enjoyed myself immensely but knew it was time to leave. After giving my goodbye kisses to everyone, Danny drove me to the port where I met my two friends Molly and Jacob and we departed on a ferry to Amalfi and the the island Capri. The ferry ride was my favorite. It gently glided across the clear blue water staring at the rocky coast with houses and villages tucked away. The salty sea air whipped around the ferry's flag making a gentle swishing sound. I just stared at Sarno/Salerno as it grew smaller in the distance. The homeland of my grandparents is right there. I am a part of this as well. It was a great experience.

We soon arrived at Capri and started exploring the island. The water was amazingly blue! Capri had a lot of steps because it is basically one large rock. Needless to say we were tired at the end of the day! The coolest part of it though was the Blue Grotto. We got into a small row boat and the guy brought us into the grotto. It was quiet, dark, and the water shown bright azur reflecting the light from beneath. The guy then sang "Come Back to Sorrento" which was beautiful! Exiting the Grotto we then took a bus back to the port to take a ferry to Sorrento! By far my favorite city on the Amalfi coast, Sorrento was small but not miniscule, large but not enormous. We rolled up to it on our huge ferry and entered the city. The center was bustling with activity. The sun was out and the weather perfect. We wandered around near the coast and the shops just meandering around enjoying ourselves. We eventually found the hostel we booked and it was a cooking school! We also got upgraded to a private room with a bathroom and balcony! That night we decided that after dinner we would buy wine and sit out on the patio and play cards overlooking Mt. Vesuvius and the sea. A marvelous night it was indeed with friends.

The next day we caught a train to Pompei and explored a Roman city caught in time by the explosion of a monster. The ruins were chilling. People still in their poses when they died were lying in eternal rest. Everything looked like it still functioned and was very real. The city was just so huge it took most of the day. After that though we took another train to Naples. Here, we did one thing and one thing only. Pizza. We each at two pizzas because they were so good. We chose the best place in Naples too. 4 hours later we are back on a train on the way to Rome once again. The trip was well worth it because we got to see about 6 cities in a weekend! I used tons of italian and love meeting new people! The landscape down south was some of the most beautiful I have seen and hope to return! Now back in Rome I feel at home and await my next journey.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Cinque Terre!

On the road again. A train along the western coast of Italy. Following the water north past Siena, Florence, and even Pisa, until the beautiful five cities or Cinque Terre.

This was a sudden trip, planned about 5 hours before the train...I had no hostel and no plans, just an idea. But thats the wonderful part of Italy, things like this can work for a weekend or more. I packed a bag and popped the ipod in, put on some andrea bocelli and looked out the window onto the countryside of Italy as it sped by. I always feel more comfortable on the move, going somewhere, doing something. I feel more accomplished, and more relaxed. Anyhow, after 5 hours traveling north we pulled into the city of La Spezia where we found a bus to take us to a little city out of La Spezia called Biassa. Biassa was nestled on top of a beautiful hill overlooking the ocean. It was incredibly high and my ears popped everytime going up or down. We arrived at the hostel and I asked if there was room for me...he said no. Although it was not the answer I wanted, I didnt panic, but tried to look around for another hostel...nope, not in this town of 300 people. The guy then stopped me and said he could fit me into the hostel. I was very grateful and...hungry. I wasnt the only one hungry, the others in my group were as well! So, stanging outside in the little town in the sun on top of a hill we pondered at where to eat...everything seemed closed. Suddenly we see a kid biking down the street right in front of us and seeing this as the only opportunity for help I shouted, "Ciao ragazzo, scusa!!" He screeched to a stop and I asked where we could get some grub. He then spoke in the coolest accent I have heard in Italy. I was so fascinated I didnt even know what he said, but evidently he was goign to come back after getting us a reservation somewhere...I took this as, "ya, im not coming back because you guys are odd...". I was wrong though, because 10 minutes later he runs up the hill with a skateboard now and shouts to us to follow him. We do and he asks the usual questions...where are we from, what are we doing etc. I tell him and he tells me I have a southern italian accent, haha, I tell him I live in Rome and he then understands why. Anyway so Davide brings us to this awesome restaurant and then says goodbye after we thank him.

After lunch, we start walking to Cinque Terre...this took us way longer than anticipated and by the time we arrived at the first city it was already 5 o'clock. On the bright side though, it was an absolutely gorgeous day. The first city held breathtaking views of the water and coastline of the Italian Riviera. The cool blue water lapped upon the jutting rocks. The sound was so calming and rythmic. Looking back on the towns as we passed from one to the other we beheld the magnificent colors of the buildings in the bright sun, and the vibrant fishing boats in the water bobbing up and down following the orders of the sea. The temperature was perfection and everything was working out.

Arriving at our last city for the day we watched the sun set between two cliffs filled with tiny squat italian houses. Then, we ate seafood with the local wine overlooking the coast. Now after dinner we left for the hostel in Biassa which was about an hour away. By the time we got there it was 10 at night. On the way to the door I hear my name, "Hey Biaggio!", I turned around and it was Davide! Him and a bunch of friends were just roaming around and they asked us if we wanted to join. The girls of the group said absolutely because they saw the guys all had motocicleta helmets with them. So after some wandering of this town about 5 feet wide by 10 feet the girls asked me to ask them if they could ride a moped. The italians eagerly obliged and one said in italian, "wait here while I go get the bigger one". 10 minutes later we hear a growl of an engine as this crotchrocket bike races down the hill. He asks the girls which one wants to go first and he gives them a helmet and dashes away. After them he turns to me and asks if I've ever ridden and I said no. He then gives me the helmet and says hop on and hold tight. I get on the bike only to be brought speeding away down the hill at breakneck speed! We arrive at a tunnel about a mile and a half long, he shouts back for me to duck and hold on, then he races through the tunnel at about 150-160 km/hr!!! It was AWESOME! I couldnt believe how fun it was! We got back to the group and hung out for a little more until we had to get back to the hostel. What an experience! At times like these, I appreciate so much that I can speka the language, because so many more things can happen! I love being able to participate in a culture so entirely!

We woke up the next morning bright and early so we could get a head start on the hiking. It was a good idea because the weather was suppose to fall through in the afternoon. We took the train to the last city and began our hike backwards to the rest. Yet, the hike from the 5th to the 4th was a major one. It reminded me of boy scouts. I loved it. The rest of the group did not however and there was a lot of "come on, only a little more, you can do it". Then, one of the girls said, "god, how could this get any worse..." I laughed...because it started raining. We continued on however, and made it to the fourth city for a lunch break. It was my favorite city because it looked like Venice. The food was great and the view as well. The italian riviera is phenomenal.

It was at this point that we decided to head back to home...Rome. BUT, since there was a layover in Pisa I told everyone we HAD to go see the tower. So, in 40 minutes we got a taxi sped over to the tower, looked at it, took pictures, held it up, got a cafe, sat ont he lawn in the sun, and went back to the station...basically you can do Pisa in 40 minutes. No but really, Pisa was a very beatiful city and had great architecture along the river. I was super stoked we stopped there though and can now check it off my list!!! The train the brought us home and we sat down after visiting 10 cities in 48 hours. Rome, Civitavecchia(layover), La Spezia, Biassa, Cinque Terre(5), and Pisa. Wow.

I have to say that the first chance I get, I will go back to the italian riviera and stay for a bit more in better weather. But for now, there are other parts of Europe that need exploring! Ciao!


Friday, April 16, 2010

Barcelona Espana

Arriving in Barcelona from Paris was a bit of a shock. More of a culture shock than Italy to France I would say. The air was more arid, and the language completely different. I felt a disconnect though with this country because I knew so little about its history, language, and people. My spanish language skills were mediocre to say the least, but I could understand and be understood, although it was by no means as proficient as my italian and french. Also, this was Catalan, not spanish, so I felt even more out of place.

Anyway, so I was suppose to couchsurf in Barcelona, but the host was not at his house and so I decided to just get a hostel in the city. Traveling alone is a very interesting experience. It is a reflective time, but also an opportunity to meet tons of people.

The main city hit me by surprise because the architecture was so much like Romes but with a spanish flare. There were fountains and noise and lights everywhere. A city that seemed not to sleep! I was overwhelmed and just walked everywhere for a couple hours. Then I met some Basque girls in the Hostel and we started talking(stuttering) spanish. I was overjoyed though because I could understand them quite well! They also were impressed with the accent I had acquired. We then went out to some bars and tapas for the night and had a great time. However, they stayed out until 7 in the morning and me till 2...Haha, well thats some culture for ya!

The Spanish food was quite good! I went to a cooking class and met two australian couples on their honeymoons...talk about third wheel...and we cooked together and then went to some bars after! One of the australians name was Mitch and he fought in Afghanistan for 9 months and told me all about it! He was not shy at all about his expereinces and I got a very good idea of whats happening. I asked though who was the friendliest nation among the troops, and without hesitation he replied "the Americans". This made me happy and I asked why. He said it was because they were so generous, humorous and well trained.

The next day we all took a bike tour of the city and beach of Barcelona. We stopped for wine at noon and sat in the sun before continuing the journey back to the center. That night I took it easy and explored the city. I was VERY careful though because Barcelona is NOT safe. It is a city of thieves. I can't believe I stayed for 5 days and nothing happened! I was always very attentive and aware throughout just because of this.

Finally, my favorite part of Barcelona was the artist Antonio Gaudi. He built and designed basically everything in Barcelona. He adored mimicking nature and never using straight lines. This was probably because he drank absinth everyday and couldn't see straight lines! Thats besides the point though because I loved all of his stuff. He made parks, fountains, buildings, lamp posts, benches, plazas...everything. I took tours of his stuff and they were well worth it! I made some more friends too! Some guys on a tour in Paris turned up in barcelona too and so we did some tours there as well! I felt like such a nomad!

I left Barcelona content that I went, but I knew I wouldn't go back if it was a choice. It was small and dangerous. The beach was filled with crazy people too, and so hanging there was awkward. Haha, random naked people ride by on bikes and its...normal I guess...

I can't express how happy i was to land in Italy again. It really was like coming home. I know the Rome airport like the back of my hand by now and all the transportation to and from and within Rome. I do it automatically and am home in my neighborhood without a thought.

Spain, I will return again, but this time somewhere in the way north or the south. I also have to be more comfortable with the language...


Saturday, April 3, 2010

Paris, "Qu'ils mangent du gateau"


Breath-slowly. Smell the luxurious rich scent floating upon the breeze, filling the streets and cafes with a culture so unique and full of life. I have arrived. Bonjour Paris, je suis arrive'.

Stepping off the plane onto French soil was so surreal I knew it was a dream...I ventured off on my own for the shuttle to Paris. The morning was still fresh with the smell of dew in the countryside airport of Beauvais 1.5 hours north of Paris. My excitement could barely be contained as the bus whirred along the French highway. Already differences were apparent from my home in Italy. Farms were organized, clean, and proud. My mind was full of french words and grammar still trying to reconnect what has been lost while in Rome. Looking at objects and retrieving their meaning and word, I was preparing for the French, harsh about who speaks their native tougue, and full of pride with every breath. I was ready to be thrown into Paris to survive with the tools I possess.

Later, poking out of the distant horizon, the eiffel tower bore its face, ever solid and gracefully ruling the skyline above the city. What a welcome! I made my way to the hostel once the bus dropped me off at the station. It took awhile because the shear beauty astounded me! I felt the differences in this city from that of Rome. Yet no comparison can be made, for they are made of different materials. I enjoy each for their own specialties.

The first day I just walked. Walked until I couldn't anymore. Like I have said before, I like to get a feel for a city. I observe. Listen. Watch. I can feel the vibrations in the air and the energy of the city. Paris is delicate and amorous. Facades shown with integrity in the Parisian fashion, and the people, heads held high yet going about their daily duties. I felt oddly out of place in my Roman fashion clothes and walk. I tried to blend and mimic and learn. My french was coming back wonderfully, using it with a soft touch just like the French would want. I acquired the most knowledge just by hearing others speak and learning the mode of Parisian French. The rhythm of the city was difficult for me to adjust to coming from chaotic Rome. It was like a personality disorder for me having both these languages and cultures inside and trying to display them both up to par with the locals. I achieved a balance though, and in the end really developed a feel for the Parisians.

The next day I ate breakfast consisting of a croissant, orange juice and a small baguette. Full and ready to move, I left for a free tour of the city! I worked the metro like a dream and arrived at the tour just in time. I really loved walking around learning about the history of the city and taking pictures of all the main sights. I went to Notre Dame, Louvre, Champs-Elysees, l'Arc de Triomph, Les Jardins Tuilleries, and much more. Paris was full of hidden gems of history and architechture!

I ate crepes during the day and always espresso. There was a calmness to the city that I could not place my finger on. I was astounded at the French way of life, so absolutely different than the italian mindset.

The next morning, I stopped at a caffe facing the rising sun. I drank my espresso and made plans for the day. I would explore the northern city and then make my way down to the center. The sun was gently grazing the city of love with its light and I saw Paris in its full splendor. The Seine flowed strong and steady like the vein of the city. Notre Dame ruled over the island in the middle watchful with its soaring buttresses and gothic architechture. Its Rose Window as ever an eye of color and art swirling with light for all to behold. Its enormity gives way to grace as the stained glass windows cover its sides and its architecture draws every eye.

Paris at night is just as beautiful as during the day. The moon over the eiffel tower is drawn from a story book and I am reminded of its fame. I meet my friends the next day who live in Paris. After catching up for a bit we then toured their part of town in the Garden of Luxembourg and the Pantheon. I ate a excquisite french dinner yet I made a faux pas...when I went to cut the Brie cheese for my baguette I cut the tip of the triangle. All of the sudden I heard laughter and shock. I looked up to see all faces towards me. I was then told that the tip of the cheese is NEVER cut like that and I should shave the side instead of taking the whole tip. I now know for future reference to absolutely never make this mistake again. I am very happy I learned it though in a fun environment as apposed to an official French dinner in the future!

My time in the fair city was coming to an end when I traveled to Versailles for the day. A quiet yet still large city that was the country getaway for the french court. I toured the Palace of Versailles and roamed its exquisitly cut gardens for the day. Swans swam gracefully upon the lake at the center. The winding paths curved and encircled beautiful fountains and flower beds. I could have spent days in the garden and not seen enough. I plan on returning in the future.

Honeslty there was so much I saw and did in Paris it is hard to fit it into a blog! I spent 5 days there and achieved so much, yet I know I could do so much more! The whole environment was amazing and it drew me in for good. The language helped me fit in so much better. I love not feeling like a tourist. Yet the Parisians were colder to me than I would have liked. I guess it was because I was a stranger and they do not act the same as Romans...obviously. I anticipate my return to Paris to uncover the rest of its mystery and regality. But for now, its splendor and majesty will always hold it as one of my favorite cities. Au Revoir.


Friday, March 5, 2010

Athens Greece/Αθήνα, Ελλάδα!

Finally, I have left the country! I packed my things and my roommate Zach and I went to Greece. I was anticipating a tiring weekend full of new language and experiences, and it all started on the thursday night when we left for Fiumicino Airport. Leaving our building with backpacks and smiling faces we encountered our door woman who jumped up and gave us both kisses goodbye. Then walking down our street our bread store came out and shouted goodbye and I told them how baklava was on the menu! Then we passed our cafe we frequented and they got so excited about our trip! It really feelt already like this was our community! I was laughing so much because it was like a movie!!

We flew Alitalia who switched our gate at the last second and was an hour late. While we were waiting at the gate, stupid me hadn't realized that people were not all italian anymore because we were waiting for a plane to GREECE. That is why I turned to the young couple sitting next to us and started chatting in italian...only to receive blank looks...I was shocked and uncomfortable...what do I do? Why aren't they responding? So then, I did something insane, I SPOKE GREEK! Haha, wow what a sight. I started two days earlier with basic phrases and structure, and it worked! The couple immediately started chatting with me(in english) and helping me with greek! We spent about 30 minutes writing greek down learning! So alrready at the airport I experienced what I feared already, inadequacy and inability to function in a language. I did not like it.

The plane landed in Athens at 2 in the morning and we boarded the bus to get to the terminal. On the bus an old man was standing and I was sitting, so I stood up and said παρακαλώ, which means 'please'. He immediately responds ευχαριστώ which means 'thank you'! It worked! I was already speaking greek! Once we go to the terminal I stepped off the bus and looked around...Greek script, letters, everywhere. I got chills. I started immediatley reading everything and figuring out the letters and their corresponding english equivalents. I took pictures of signs and read them again and again. It was like a game! I realted words to Latin and english, there were roots everywhere in these words! I was not even thinking about how to get to the hostel.But we got to our hostel at 3AM and went to bed.

We woke up the next morning to an absoutely beautiful sunshine and started our journey by looking at a map! Once we had something planned we hit up the first bakery we saw...for me of course, and I got BAKLAVA! Wow, it was very good, but very sweet! With it of course we had to try greek coffee...absolutely disgusting...at least that is checked off the list. Anyway, we then ventured to the famous acropolis of athens! We passed monuments and temples along the way and tried to figure out what everything was! We got into the acropolis for free because we were students and then began our hike to the top. Ascending this ancient hill, we were astounded at the age of everything! Greece is 5000 years old! WHAT! But as we got higher and higher Athens began to lay our before our eyes in every direction. Then the sea showed its horizontal beauty in the distant port. We stopped many times to take pictures and Zach go the one of me looking out at Athens on top of the Acropolis. I loved every second of this because the country was completelety different than Italy! The houses were different structure and color, and the noise was different as well. The sun shown differently and the wind smelled of the cool blue sea. We reached the top of the Acropolis and I was feeling a little depressed that I couldn't understand anything...It was not fun and strange. It was like my silent thought was answered when I heard italian in the distance...at first I thought it was a trick, but no...there was an italian class taking a tour here! I rushed over longing for the comfort of the beautifully energetic language I call home. I arrived at the group and started talking to one of the students immediately...they were from the Venice region and here on a class trip! It was amazing how that one thing lifted my spirits so much! Then, just when I thought it couldn't get better, another student tour group passed and...no, could it be? I heard silk, the sweet smooth silk of the french language. I detached from one group and went to the next. Blending in the back I just listened, then asked where they were from...Paris region. Zach was just laughing at my actions but my mood immediately changed and I was ready to tackle Athens some more!

After the Acropolis we went to lunch and obviously we ordered greek salads and rice wrapped in grape leaves. I almost died because the salad was so good! There was no lettuce just tomato, onion, cucumber, olives, and feta cheese with olive oil! I could not believe how good it was! Anyway, after the great lunch we went on to this great part of the city with lots of monuments and shops as well. It was about 65-70 degrees and we were loving it! We spent the rest of the afternoon in the sun and walking. We returned to our hostel for a breif respite before dinner. Then we went to dinner at a restaurant that overlooked the Acropolis and this other temple. Then after we walked some more then went to bed early because we were going to an island the next day!

Waking up very tired but excited, I used the greek I knew to get us on a bus to the Port and then we ran to a ferry boat and were off to Aegina island! The sun was just in the sky and burning off the morning layer of fog. I could tell the day was going to be brilliant because I saw a rainbow off the boat. An hour later we got off and decided to look for a place to rent bikes! Really easy and cheap...5Euros and we had the bikes for the day! Then, we began our journey south. Rising along the coast we immediately exited civilization and were engulfed by nature on the left and the sea on the right. This water, this cool crisp water was so blue I thought it was a trick. We couldn't stop taking pictures! By this time, I bought a new scarf of the Greek colors so I would blend more...haha, ya right, already my skin was turning red from the two minutes in the sun, no greek would be fooled.

Our bike ride to a small southern town was so enjoyable that we needed to eat and rest. It was about 12 and the sun was at its zenith. We chose the main street of the town which happend to be on the port. There was no one there. Only us and some locals. Tourists would not be found here yet for anther couple of months. So we picked our table and sat at the edge of the water overlooking the bay. The sun was shining on us as we ordered our greek salads and chicken souvlaki. We both turned our chairs and just looked out over the sea. We were both schocked into silence and just sat there. Now, we stayed here for the whole afternoon, literally at this reatuarant for three hours eating, drinking, and laughing. There must be something in the air on islands because they are just a completely different feeling from anywhere else! I had not a care in the world other than when my next bread and oil plate was coming.

It was so quiet there. Closing my eyes I felt the cool salty breeze grazing my cheeks then warmed by the perfect sun. It touched my arms and shoulders, warming me gently. The rythmic lapping of the waves on the shore brought peace and a calming background. The rocky island cliffs off the shore whispered of a time of wooden boats and angry jeaolous gods. You could almost hear Homer reccounting the Odyssey as the winds of Aelious brought a storm of Poseindon. I have never felt that calm in my life. I would say without a doubt, one of the most enjoyable afternoons/lunches of my life, if not the most. No one cared about anything, we ordered the greek frappe at a cafe and sat outside some more for about an hour and a half. The sea mesmerized us with the sun dancing of its surface. The trees gently swayed all around us from the push of the wind. Birds were in the backround as well adding a sweet sound to the already gorgeous afternoon. I literally cannot describe how absolutely amazing this island was. We tore ourselves away and biked in the direction of the port. Then we stumbled upon this dirt path veering to the left...we took it. It wound us around to the top of a hill that overlooked the bay and the town. The wind had picked up and white caps appeared on the water as it began to thrust and pull against the cliffs. We were on top of the world on that hill, the wind whipping us about, but the whole island and its neighbors surrounding us. What beauty and power! It was an unforgettable experience. Sadly though, we had to leave to catch our ferry boat to Athens.

We returned to Athens and went to dinner. I ate for my first time a Kebap! It was so good! I loved how I ate it in Greece too, haha what a dinner! After that though, we were so tired from the biking we had to go to bed.

We slept in the next day and slowly woke up and went to the bakery again for some great cookies! Then we saw the Acropolis museum and learned a ton about the history of it and how it came to be. We ate lunch at a small local place and had greek salad with stuffed tomatoes and some meat and potatoes. Then we decided to climb the talles hill in Athens. The hike took us about 30 minutes, but it was really worth it as we arrived at the surface panting and thirsty. The Acropolis looked tiny from up on the hill. It was so high the sea looked large. Again, since we had nothing pressing to do we sat up here overlooking the city with the sun on our faces for a couple hours. Then we walked around some monuments and went home to change and get dinner. Of course we got Kebabs again but at a new place, and a different kind! Still, they were really good!

Our trip to Greece was ending, and I had already figured the alphabet and could read quite quickly words and phrases. I learned my words by just listening and mimicking everyone I heard. I already began conjugating words and forming complete thoughts...yet my comprehension was still very small, although I got more than I thought! It is such an interesting language, and hard to believe it was what everyone spoke in ancient times if you were educated! Greece now seems poor and in hardship. Riot police were everywhere, and in general people seemed more alert or suspiscious. We left Athens behind as Alitalia took off towards
Ρώμη(Rome). The lights of the ancient city where philosophical thought was matured and taught was slowly getting farther and farther away. Zach and I were both dead tired and immensely content at our trip. I learned so much in 3 days that I couldn't believe it had only been that long! Our faces were burned and our bellies full of baklava, salad, and kebab. What could be better? Greece was a dream, and can now claim one of my most fulfilling afternoons in my life. Congrats. Now though, back to the "young" Rome and seeing what new adventures await me here. Thanks to all, and until next time, αντίο(goodbye)!

Βλακε(Haha, this looked a lot cooler in my head)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


The weekend started on Friday as it usually does, but this Friday we went to the Vatican Museums to see the Sistine Chapel and all the other...things. Just kidding, everything was beautiful there and we really enjoyed ourselves. But, as you can see from the photos we loved seeing open windows and taking pictures of the outside. The Sistine Chapel was grandiose and dark. No pictures allowed yet everyone took them. We sat in there for a good 30 mintutes staring at the ceiling revered by so many. What a masterpiece of skill and art. But more importantly, after the museums we went to eat the best Tiramisu in all of Rome. I was so excited and saved room at dinner so I could indulge in the sweet cacao dream that was tiramisu. We arrived at Pompi and I ordered it with a coffee. Let me first of all say that I love tiramisu and I would consider myself pretty knowledgable in all its attributes... Now this tiramisu was so far beyond any I have ever eaten I had now words. I LOVED it. Absolutely phenomenal, so good that I thought they were joking. (Mom, we are going when you get here and you will know what I mean). I took a napkin with the name of the place so I will always remember the King of Tiramisu.

What a beautiful weekend in Rome! My friend Antonio came from Sicily and stayed with us at our apartment in Trastevere. I picked him up from the Train Station and we begun our weekend fun. He met all the guys and then we decided to go explore some of Rome! Tony loves Rome, but hates walking...a bit of a problem. Anyway, we walked to Piazza Venezia which holds a very large government building as well as a monument of sorts. Then we walked the famous Via del Corso. It was so busy that everybody was just walking in the streets! We took this all the way up to the northern gate of Rome, Piazza del Popolo. This is one of my favorite spots in Rome. From it you can see three major roads built to connect the renaissance city. They all converge at Piazza del Popolo with a magnificent Obelisk at its center. Here, we stopped for some lunch at a restuarant and I ate bolognese with fresh bread and red wine. Also, per usual, an espresso at the end of the meal and a glass of water after that.

Once our bellies were filled and our thirst quenched we walked to the enormous park in Rome called Villa Borghese. Once we entered its lush green depths, Rome was drowned out and replaced by this serene atmosphere filled with birds and running water. Fountains were every 100m and the paths were small stones that crunched under our steps. What a change to walk into the heart of nature after being in ancient Rome!! This walk brought us laughter and fun as we joked around and took pictures of all the new sights. Tony's pace is very slow, and so it took us a bit to walk anywhere, but I found it enjoyable, it gave us time to appreciate what we were seeing in every aspect. Stopping at an outdoor cafe tucked in the woods gave us a small respite as we drank our macchiatos, cappuccinos, and coffees. The sun threw shadows in every direction as it hit the leaves making a constant flicker all around the park. Archways and statues solidly stood watching everything. Tony and I spoke of school, life, and Italy. He always speaks in english, so stubborn in that way, so I return and only speak in italian. I think each of us really wants the other to switch languages, but this will never happen. It is great practice for each of us and we both help eachother out whenever mistakes are made.

We ended our adventure of the green woods of Rome at the Spanish steps where they touch. From here we walked on Via Condotti which is where the stores are like: Gucci, Prada, Fendi...etc... We walked all the way home from their much to the disapproval of Tony, he got over it though. It was too funny.

Dinner was Sushi. Japanese sushi that is. I loved it! I ate it all! Except once I said thank you in japanese to the bus girl she says she is chinese...awkward...so then I speak some chinese, she is overjoyed but my lack of vocabulary halts our conversation. Therefore I return to Italian but she says she doesn't speak it yet. Now I'm really confused and I try english but to no avail. O well, we tried 4 languages and we couldn't work, not for lack of effort!

After dinner we went to Campo di Fiori and all the bars there. Then we went to our normal bar in Trastevere. It was a really fun night for all of us. Tony enjoyed himself and slept till 1 the next day! Wow!

Everyday Tony and I went to Sant'Eustachio Caffe' which is rated one of the best coffees in the world. So I had a cappuccino and macchiato there whenever we went. It was very good. He loved it because he knows the difference betweem coffee anyway and told me how good it was.

Unfortunately, as Sunday and Monday rolled around he had to return home. All the roomates really liked him and he fit in well with us. We had a phenomenal weekend and I look forward to visiting him within the coming weeks!

Now, I must pack for Greece and do some homework. I will write again once I return! Ciao!