Buona sera! (Good afternoon).....I'm trying not to start every single post with 'a lot has happened since my last post' but damn it's hard, because IT'S TRUE!!!
Last time I posted we were going to Santa Maria del Popolo etc (ie Thursday night). Because most people had done it on the Tuesday, there was only me, Sybille, Marianne + two other girls (both snobs in level 'superiore' who didn't want to talk to us!). Anyway, church was kinda cool, with a disproportionate amount (I thought anyway) of skulls, skulls and crossbones, skeletons in robes etc. Fake, I must add with some sadness. There were lots of scuptures by famous people whose names I don't remember but did recognise at the time, and also two paintings by Caravaggio (at least I remember that one)
Took photos, esp of 'dem bones', but since you couldn't use a flash they didn't turn out too well. Then walked to the mausoleum of Augustus and the Ara Pacis, about half an hour walk. Bit crap cos the Ara Pacis is now inside a big (ugly) building to protect it, so you couldn't really see anything. Anyway, kept walking for another 10mins or so looking
at various things (so now 40mins walk + 10mins bus ride away) and the teacher goes "OK, ciao!" And goes home!! We're going "um...where
are we???" Managed to find our way home after (as tradition dictates for us) getting well and truly lost, so by the time we got home we were buggered and starving! But it was really cool, because as I said before, L&L had gone away til Sunday! So for the first time we were all able to sit in the kitchen together and talk, play music, drink etc, and not have to worry about closing any doors too loudly! The problem with the flat is that because they are in it for the money, they have converted every spare room into a bedroom, including what would be the living area. So there is normally nowhere we can congregate without feeling like we are in the way or intruding. Although because of this night, I wasn't quite up to going to school on Friday, so had to make up some excuse on Monday!
Saturday was our Day of the Tourist. BIG time. Me, Sybille, Marianne & another German girl Patrizia were on the bus first thing
in the morning to go to...the Vatican! Inside St. Peter's was absolutely massive, the ceilings were vaulted to the max, one might even say (if one was an idiot) (which I am not). We were all overly snap-happy as always (except P, who doesn't even have a camera?!) but it was kind of pointless because with or without the flash you couldn't really see anything. Will just hold on the the images in my head! After this we paid our 4 euros each to climb to the top of the Duomo, 'senza ascensore', ie. we didn't pay extra to go halfway in the lift! So, 521 stairs and EVERY ONE A KILLER!!! I was just starting to flag when all of a sudden we were there!!! I thought to myself, "That wasn't so bad after all!" But no, it was only Stage 1, 'the easy bit'. Then it got a bit hardcore, v. steep, narrow, dark, and VERY badly ventilated. Every now and again I'd just stop at a little window to get some non-rank air. Finally
we reached the top, inside the duomo itself. Beautiful mosaics and a great view down to the church floor. Well worth the climb.
Oh sorry, what?? THIS isn't the top either?! By this stage I was making a mental list of the various places to stick this climb, but I carried on! I liked this stage least of all, Extremely tight spiral staircases with just a rope hanging down the middle to hold on, no rail or anything, and again no air. (Also it was another beautiful Rome day, 30 degrees and not a cloud in the sky). Just when I was ready to turn around and jump, we reached the top! And this was the real top. Outside the Duomo you have an amazing view of the city. After a short recovery period (and many photos) we went back down. By the time we reached the bottom my legs were shaking! After this we went to the Bridge of Angels (Ponte S. Angelo) which was full of African guys selling various knock-off bags, belts, etc - "Best price, lady! You come here!" Saw one guy literally dragging this lady by her arm back down the bridge to where she had made the mistake of blinking in his direction! We then went to Castel Sant'Angelo (at the end of the bridge) which is
a museum and a monument. It dates back to Hadrian's time, and was used as a prison at some point. I enjoyed it even more that the Vatican, we were definitely 'all churched out' after St Peter's!
That afternoon we walked back into the city centre to the famous Piazza Navona, where there was a street performer magician guy who was really, really weird. Then went to the Pantheon, which was a lot bigger than I'd imagined, I don't know why but I aways thought it was quite small. It is still being used as a church today, when we were there there was a service in progress! Lastly, we went to the Trevi Fountain, also very big! I didn't throw a coin in but don't worry, I've still got a month so all is well! In the words of Arnie...well we all know his words don't we. That night Nicolas cooked a v. yummy risotto in our L&L free zone and it was another fun night.
Sunday we were at Termini Station (main transport hub in Rome) by 8:50am because we were off to the beach! It was about an hour by train, although we were sitting
We're too sexy for our pantaloons...
on the floor between carriages because it was so packed! Soon enough we arrived at Sperlonga, a gorgeous town built into the hillside next to the sea. Of course, there were the standard European rows of umbrellas and sun lounges up and down the entire beach. We just plonked our towels down on the sand, and then a guy came up, "Is private beach, private beach!" Luckily because it was September (ie no longer peak time) they let us stay. Do you know, to hire two chairs, one umbrella, and a little changing shed (size of a toilet cubicle) for one month it costs 400 EUROS!! That's almost $700!. Beach was gorgeous, so calm, water absolutely clear and quite shallow, with little fish following you around (I freaked out when I first noticed them!) That evening we visited the town itself. You can drive to the base, but after that there are no cars, only stairs. So picturesque and overflowing with stereotypical Italian village scenes.
Monday night we went on another trip to Villa Torlonia, a park near the school/our flat which was the estate of the Torlonia family princes back in the day. Most of the buildings are
I like this angel a lot (Nerissa don't worry I have more pics!)
in a sad state of disrepair, which is a shame. I don't know why we were surprised, but when we got to the other end, the teacher left us there like at the church, so we had another fun adventure getting home! Plus during the tour the park closed so everywhere we went we had guards chasing us saying we had to leave! Fun and games for all.
Anyway, hope you have enjoyed my first real post with photos, it's been a while in the making I know! Missing you all, and looking forward to a change in the weather here!!! I think 'Sto morendo' (I'm dying) should be my motto!!
Hope all is going well back home - feel free to email me, comment etc with any interesting (or not so interesting) news, goss, whatever!
Lessons from Italia!
I think Italians are either really accident-prone or really old, or both. I have never heard SO MANY AMBULANCES in my entire life!
Loving and leaving you (for now, see previous Arnie comment)
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