When in Roma

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July 17th 2013
Published: July 18th 2013
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Dino Romano (left) Travel buddy, Hervé (right)
Ok, maybe not as early as I promised, but still better than last time.

So last I wrote, I was leaving France for an adventure in Italy. And what an adventure it has been! Let me rewind and start from the beginning, about a month ago now....

I met a crazy French guy named Hervé, who agreed to join me on my journey down to Rome. To save money, we opted to hitchhike our way there. So starting from Lyon, we accepted a series of 5 rides, varying from a newly-wed couple with a baby on the way to a Rock-loving couple who listened to Alice Cooper and Gun 'N' Roses the whole time. Our final destination (of the day) was Milan, the fashion capital of the world. While the streets are lined with designer stores, the general population can obviously not afford these products. What I thought would be a personal fashion show every day, was really just an average city. No complaints, as my backpacker attire made me stick out like a sore thumb back in Paris! The city was fun to explore, though it lacks any major landmarks/monuments, in my opinion. I had my first

Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore, Firenze
gelato, which is really just ice cream, but for some reason its not- it 's better AND it's perfectly acceptable to have a large cup once, or sometimes twice, a day. I also had my first Italian pizza, which, honestly, was nothing more special than the stuff we eat in the States. But I made up for it by getting gelato.

From Milan, Hervé and I made our way down to Florence (Firenze), in the cab of a truck owned by Dino Romano. He is a motorcycle manufacturer/designer- he creates one of a kind bikes for A-list celebs. His latest bike will be appearing in the new Nicholas Cage film, he showed us the paperwork. On top of his astonishing resume, Dino had a wild personality to match. So after a whirlwind ride, in which we sometimes feared for our lives, we finally arrived in Florence. This breathtaking city is full of medieval buildings, mysterious alleyways, and of course loads of historical sites and monuments. Each city in Italy has a famous cathedral which is simply called "Il Duomo". In retrospect (even though I felt it at the time), the Duomo in Firenze has been my favorite in all of Italy-and maybe Europe, but I won't say that yet. Just take a look at the pictures. I would have loved to spend longer in this city, but I was on a schedule to meet Tessa, one of my closest Rollins friends, in Rome. So in one last hoorah, Hervé and I hitched to Rome, where after 2 years, I was finally reunited with Tessa! I said goodbye to Hervé and hello to the fascinating city of Roma.

Tessa and I had the fortune of staying with a couchsurfing host who lived less than 10 minutes walking distance from Basilica di San Pietro, more commonly known as the Vatican. While this church may not hold the same religious significance to me as it does for its millions of other visitors, it was still an incredible place to visit. I was fascinated by its beautiful architecture, its unique history, and its oddily dressed security. We checked out the Sistine Chapel, and witnessed Michaelangelo's most famous ceiling-painting job. We also stopped by such landmarks as the Spanish Steps, the Trevi Fontain, the Pantheon, and the Colosseum. Unfortunately, in the summer the city is overrun with loud, pushy tourists (Americans), who
Swiss GuardSwiss GuardSwiss Guard

Vatican City's finest
seem unaware of the value of the things they are actually seeing. Instead they want to check each item off the "to-do" list, trampling over each other in the race to get to the next place. To escape the masses we caught a train down the coast to the coastal town of Sorrento, to meet another Rollins friend, Katie.

The three of us had a wonderful time strolling through the quaint seaside town of Sorrento. We enjoyed the sun at the beach where flocks of tan, speedo-clad men were eager to talk to us. We spoiled ourselves at nice restaurants with pizza and pasta, bread and wine. We window-shopped, bought souvenirs, and had more than our fair share of gelato (my favorite flavor so far- Snickers). The trip was short and sweet, but all good things must come to an end. So we took the train back to nearby Naples, where we couchsurfed for two nights before parting ways. On our last day together we all went out to the ancient city of Pompeii, for the coolest, most educational day I've had so far. We strolled the cobble stone streets, still etched with chariot tracks; we visited the bakery, forum, temples, and amphitheater. All the while Vesuvius loomed in the background, a grave reminder that people here live life on the edge. Definitely one of the top ten best places I've visited!

Katie returned to Spain, Tessa took off to Berlin, and I remained in Naples with my very wonderful host Giuseppe. As I am a by-the-wind traveler, it was very easy for me to take up Giuseppe on his offer to show me an authentic version of the Naples coast. He is originally from the island of Ischia, about an hour's ferry ride from the port. So we packed our bags and hopped over to his home town, where I met friends and family, ate more than my fair share of delicious food, and soaked up some rays on the Mediterranean beach. What happened next was completely unexpected, but absolutely wonderful: I found love. Giuseppe and I had an instant connection and an inseperable bond. It was decided that I should remain in Naples, as he does not have the time/money to continue traveling with me around Europe. While I may not get to see as much as I intended to on this trip, I am getting a much deeper look into one culture than planned. I am learning Italian, picking up some cooking skills, and remembering my long-forgotten world history knowledge. For now I am simply enjoying the little delights as they come, and Giuseppe is happy to show me all the things tourists miss when they come to Southern Italy. "To be young and in Italy for the summer..." as my mother keeps saying 😊

I will be in Italy for a bit, going on another Ischia trip this weekend, then around Tuscany, and up to Bologna and Venice in the following weeks. Expect another blog early August. I also added pictures to my blog on France, so go back and check them out!

PS- For anyone wondering how I can afford all these shenanigans: I have managed to stick to a budget of 20€/day (roughly $26). So for all you who think you need $$$$ to travel, it's not true. Simple tricks like eating in and couchsurfing save me hundreds of dollars per week! Feel free to ask questions.

Additional photos below
Photos: 17, Displayed: 17



Notice Duomo at center
Vallone dei MuliniVallone dei Mulini
Vallone dei Mulini

(Valley of the mills), Sorrento
World's best pizzaWorld's best pizza
World's best pizza

Michele's in Napoli
Chiesa del SoccorsoChiesa del Soccorso
Chiesa del Soccorso

Forio d'Ischia

18th July 2013

You are going to be the TB go to person for inexpensive European travel!
I'll bet that dinner in Sorrento busted your budget...but you saved on the pizza. I hope that your relationship with Giuseppe works out...living in Italy would be amazing..."Under the Tuscan Sun" and "Letters to Juliet" come to mind. My son spent a year abroad in Rome, and we have vacationed all over Italy many times. So let's have more frequent blogs from you!
19th July 2013

Thank you
Actually that dinner in Sorrento was reasonably priced- they had a connection with the bungalow place we were staying, so we got a free ride there and back, and excellent service. We kept it under 15€ each for food and alcohol-yes over MY budget, but still decent! But I'm loving the 4€ large pizzas in Naples now, I won't lie :)

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