08 June 2014


We spent 5 days in Italy last week. Three days in Rome, two days in Latina (30 min. south of Rome). For me, it was the best trip we've had in Europe so far. It was so historical, so ancient, so breathtaking, and so romantic. We couldn't walk anywhere without stumbling across an ancient Roman monument. One evening while walking back to our hostel from a long day gawking at Michelangelo's masterpieces in the Vatican and searching out Bernini's fountains, we happened upon the Circo Maximo, the site for ancient Roman horse races, inaugurations, and celebrations. It was like the Washington D.C. Mall & Obelisk of Ancient Rome. Except now, modern Romans use it to walk their dogs and take evening strolls between pasta and gelato. It is unbelievable how accustomed the Romans are to the ancient history and artifacts. They are everywhere, everything you touch is legendary.


The guy taking our picture pretended to run away with my phone while/after taking the photo, hence the blur

I'm a 1/4 Italian!

Trevi Fountain


I lost some pictures of us in front of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, but you can trust me, they were beautiful. They were also framed by never-ending lines of people trying to get into both the Vatican museums and the Basilica. Lines begin around 6 am and you have to wait at least 3 hours before you can set foot inside. Our plan was to wait in line, but we were persuaded by street salesmen to pay for a guided tour and skip the line. We definitely paid way too much for it, but I'm glad we did because we learned so much history and symbolism in the paintings, frescoes, sculptures, and tapestries. St. Peter's Basilica was immense and reverent. The Apostle Peter was buried here and people have been returning to the site since ancient times. Altars were erected in the ancient era, Renaissance, and Baroque era. When the tour was over we went to the gift shop to buy a postcard and send it from the smallest country in the world, but we didn't have any Euro pieces on us. Instead, John found a beautiful pendant of Mary and baby Jesus on Venetian glass. It stood out to him not just because it was beautiful, but because he bought me something similar to it in Peru. A pendant of baby Jesus, which was later dubbed as "My Protector" from a customer at Whole Foods. John bought me the pendant from the Vatican as another "Protector," and I love it. I think it is the happiest interpretation of Mary and Jesus I've ever seen.

Bernini's Four Fountains: Nile, Danube, Ganges, Rio de la Plata

Obelisks everywhere!

Since Humanities 202, Caravaggio has had a special place in my heart. "The Calling of St. Matthew" is a favorite.


The hottest day. We spent half the day in Ancient Rome exploring the Colosseum and Roman Forum. John decided if he could go back to any time it would be Ancient Rome and he would be rich and hang out at the forum all day. Crazy stuff happened there. I was totally stunned that there was a gigantic system of elevators and hallways under the floor of the colosseum where they housed wild animals and had contraptions to lift the animals as well as obstacles up to the Colosseum floor for the Gladiator fights. Romans lived for entertainment and this was a super advanced stage for it. It took us 3 hours to walk through the Roman Forum. I hardly understood what I was looking at, but basically we were in the central part of the Roman Empire. The hill housed government bodies and religious temples. Downhill were the areas of commerce, shopping, selling, playing, etc. It was vast. Romans had heated marble floors! They were fantastic engineers.

The monuments just sneak up on you like this

Inside the Pantheon

The Spanish Steps

Goofiest looking tourists you'll ever see
Twin Churches. It's easy to see which one is older.

Day 4
We spent the last two days in Latina, Italy with my cousins. Technically they are my second cousins, but family is family. Giovanna and her daughter, Francesca, picked us up from the train station. The first thing she asked was do I remember her? Of course, I remember her! I first met her and her family when I was 7 years old. She made the best Pasta Vongole I've ever had. We stayed in her small beach house in San Felice. The first night we were there, there was a monstrous thunder storm. But the next day, we spent the entire day on the beach playing in the sand and collecting sea shells. I remember playing with my cousins and showering off the sand with the old semi-naked Italians on the beach. Carmine, her husband, is a physiotherapist and he gave mum an adjustment. I remember enough to recognize their faces and be able to share some small history. I really cherished reconnecting with them and having John meet them, too. He was very inquisitive, and Giovanna enjoyed telling him stories and explaining history of Latina, San Felice, and her family. Carmine told us that his grandfather, my great grandfather, went to the US to work on the underground in NYC. His name is on the memorial recognizing all those who helped construct it. I learned a lot about my family talking over dinner and traveling from Latina to San Felice, the beach. Family is family wherever you go.

La Cucina Italiana

L'archictectura faschista
John, Maria, Francesca

Carmine checking the mailbox marked RACIOPPI

The real homemade caprese salad

Fried zucchini flowers

Day 5

Time to leave. Before we left, Carmine and Giovanna took us to San Felice to see the old house that I remember. It has been sold now, but they own an apartment on the cliffs overlooking the sea. They renovated it, but it still has walls dating back to the Renaissance and Medeival times. This is where John and I had the best gelato in all of Rome. Then for dinner, Carmine ordered pizza for everyone. He asked what we wanted on our pizzas. I said arugula, mozzarella de bufala, and tomatoes. John asked for pepperoni. When we got the pizzas, John was disappointed to see that his pizza was covered in roasted bell peppers, or in other words, "pepperoni." However, it ended up being my favorite pizza. As a going away gift, Giovanna gave John an Italian Salami to make up for the pepperoni incident.


John & Giovanna

oops, not ready

pizza for dinner in Italy means you each get your own personal 12" because pizza is cheap here!

We miss Italy. We will have to go back again. We loved it too much.

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