Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Mamma mia

My flight to Milan was good, I must have been crazy when I booked a 6am flight though.  I arrived to my hostel in Milan, hot, sweaty and tired at 9.30am and check in was not until 1.30! The host, Francesco was lovely though he gave me a room to shower and change in, gave me juice and a croissant and I sat outside reading until check in.... I was falling asleep when he came out to me and says andiamo! (lets go) I stared at him confused! He told me he had my room made up already, so I was able to check in at 10.45am, I was sooo happy and grateful.  I settled in and was literally asleep by 11am, woke up at 2.30pm and went for a walk into the city.  Now Milan is kinda pooey.  I dont like it.  The people are nice but the city is dirty, smoggy and boring.  So I was happy to check out and catch the train to Rome early the next morning.

Rome Day 1

Nothing is weirder than checking into your hostel dorm room and seeing someone in there you met at a previous hostel in another country!  Crazy stuff I tell you. 
This young Aussie guy I met really briefly in Frankfurt was in the same room as me, which was handy.  He and his friends and I hung out for the first couple off days.
Walked up to the Victorian Monument, which is beautiful, white marble, massive, impressive, nicknamed the wedding cake.
Following that, walked up to the Colleseo or Colloseum as we know it.  I did the tour there, learning of the history and construction and ultimate downfall of the structure.  It is by far the oldest thing my eyes have seen, with it being as I say nearly as old as Jesus!  It is huge, I can only imagine how beautiful it would have been in its original state, covered in Marble - all white and glossy.

That night we walked into town to go to dinner.  The streets are all cobblestoned, narrow, bustling with tourists, street vendors, mopeds and locals.  We picked  a little restaurant that was well priced.  I had a bruchetta, stuffed Zucchini flowers and a Spaghetti with cheese and pepper.  Sounds plain, but it was delicious.  Who would have thought a simple cheese and pepper sauce could be so heavenly.  We shared 2 bottles of house white then walked off to get some Gelati.  I had a combination of Baileys and Cappuccino. Oh Mamma mia! Afterwards we came to a couple of little bars, to have a few more drinks.  They weren't the most atmospheric places, the Romans do not mingle.

Day 2

We headed off to the see the Spanish Steps and the Trevi Fountain.  Along the walk we stopped in a cafe that served Panini's and Club sandwhiches, but not just any club sandwhich, an epic club sandwhich.  Four layers of bread with ham, tomato, egg, cheese, rocket and potato salad. Again, the food oh Mamma mia!
Arriving at the Spanish Steps, people are everwhere!  The steps are the widest set of steps in Europe, they are really steep too! At the top sits a church The Trinit√† dei Monti then the 138 steps flow out from the base of the church, this monument built in the early 1700's. 
After visiting inside the church, taking a few photos and trying with all my might to not fall down the steps, we headed over to the Trevi Fountain.  One of the most famous fountains in the world, the thing is massive! 26mtrs by 20mtrs.  I dropped in a couple of coins, I think I made a wish...!  There were people everywhere, lots of dodgy street vendors, I was keeping my handbag clutched tight to me.
Walking the city I just happened to stumble upon a Sephora.  I purchased a little D&G Light Blue Perfume and Body lotion gift pack, I didn't bring any perfume with me so now I smell ok again.
We went out for dinner again that night, this time around sharing a mixed bruchetta plate and I had a seafood linguini.  It was an early night as my friends were checking out early the next day.

Day 3

By myself today, I had to check out of my dorm and was put into a girls only room, booooo. 
I took the metro to Ottavia station which takes you to Vatican City.  I walked up to Saint Peters Basilica.  It is breathtaking.  Beautiful. Renaissance. Holy.
I like this: The American philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson described St Peter's as "an ornament of the earth ....the sublime of the beautiful"
I had lunch at a Pizzeria, pizza of course, and Americano Caffe.  There was not much else to do so I took the metro back to the hostel and rested before dinner.  Dinner was provided by the hostel this evening, at a pizzeria.  Dry pizza made by Koreans, but it was ok as it came with free wine.  I met some American guys, we talked for a couple of hours before I headed back to the room for an early night.
Day 4
I had a tour booked to tour The Vatican Museum.  It was an 8am start, the bus drove us up to Vatican City.  We had priority entrance, so lining up was quite short.  We had a great, knowledgable guide who talked us through the museum. We walked through the Frescoes -galleries of tapestries, paintings, sculptures. Then walking in to the Sistene Chapel.

The Sistene Chapel is everything you'd imagine it to be. Jaw dropping. Decorated  by of course Michaelangelo and Botticelli works.  The Last Judement, I could stare at for hours.  That wall that Michaelangelo painted has to be seen by all, it took him 4-5 years to paint, starting it in 1535.  The stories and explanations told about this piece are very interesting. Seems old Michaelangelo was quite a witty man.

The side walls of the chapel are covered with panels painted almost in a storyboard fashion.  The life of Moses on one side of the chapel and the life of Jesus on the other.  Then of course there is the ceiling which we all know about, again Michaelangelo at his best, depicting 9 panels of Gods creation of the world.
After the chapel we venture out through the museum libraries and make our way back into the city and eventually on the bus. 
It really is far better to go here with an organised tour to take you to The Vatican.  On my way out, I saw lines that extended so far, wrapping right around the block, lining up for hours upon hours these people will be.  Just pay an extra €30, have the tour, no lines and you get a bus and a guide.  Well worth it!

Jesus Shaves mug

Spanish Steps

Epic Sandwhiches

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