Many, many months late, here re a few thoughts and many pictures of this spring’s trip through Italy.
The biggest advantage of my trimester university schedule is month off in the spring, which has been spent trailing across Europe in the past years. This year, my sister Morgan and my Mom flew over to visit and check Italy off everyone’s bucket list.
I flew into Rome from Gatwick (s/o to Anna for getting up at 5am to drive me to the airport) and managed to bump into my travel weary family in passport control. We started the trip like we planned to continue it, seeing old things, eating gelato, and getting a little bit lost.
We learned how to use the public transport (thank you London for the practice) and went to see the Vatican. We fell in love with the Sistine Chapel, melted in line waiting for St. Paul’s Cathedral, and never really knew where we were.
Gelato in Rome was incredibly important, and good gelato is harder to find than you’d like. While we never got bad gelato, we did get better at finding the right shops, and getting opinions from locals. While I enjoyed it all, there is really only one place to go (and keep going back to) – Gelateria La Romana. I think my mouth is watering at the thought. With an incredible selection of flavours, shockingly low prices, local ingredients, and an insta- worthy shop, you wouldn’t think it could get better. But it does. When you order, you get to choose if you want melted chocolate in the bottom of your cone. You do, obviously, and choose from milk or white – I’d suggest white for the fruit flavours. Then, you choose 2 different scoops of gelato, and feel free to ask for suggestions on what goes together. The pistachio is a classic, but amazing. AND THEN, (yes, there is more) you get whipped cream on top. Included in the already amazing price, you can choose from plain, chocolate, or coffee. Do you see why I’m still dreaming of this gelato? Eat some for me, please.
With an early morning trip across the city to catch our day trip, we hoped on a bus out to the current city and ruins of Pompeii. While Morgan’s motion sickness caught up with us (pack some ginger, the hills and winding road will get to you), we had traditional pizza for lunch before heading up the looming side of the ‘mountain’ that caused it all. Off the bus we hiked up the rocky trail to the top of the smoking (but safe!) volcano. Sadly it was a bit too cloudy for what we were told is an incredible view of the area and sea. It was however, still amazing.
The ruins of the ancient city are too unique to ever describe. Its difficult to imagine how much of the city really remains, but you truly are walking through a thriving city frozen in time. From restaurants to brothels to homes, the city is truly a snapshot of a lively and busy time. I also met a really nice dog roaming the streets.
While incredible, Rome was not our favourite part of the trip. Stand outs were, of course the aforementioned gelato and seeing my favourite painting. Morgan and Mom ran off to see some skulls (unsurprising) and I headed off to Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica at Palazzo Barberini. Housed in a palace tucked between bustling streets, this gallery was one of my favourites of the trip. Much quieter than the big ones, it was full of hidden jewels. I was there to see Caravaggio’s Judith Beheading Holofernes. Gritty and a bit brutal, it’s one of my favourite pieces of art and by far my favourite baroque or renaissance piece.
Italy Part 2 will be coming soon, filled with Tuscany and canals!