Wednesday, September 30, 2009


The next part of our trip was the main city we traveled to see - Venice! We woke up early on Saturday and took the bus from our hotel to the center of the city.

The first thing we saw was a couple about to get married! I can't think of a better place.

We walked just a little bit into the center and got our first glimpse of the Grand Canal

And a goldola.

We had to walk through a maze of tiny streets

And follow some pretty ghetto signs (there were some nicer ones, but some were spray painted like this)

To find our way to Venice's two main attractions -- Ponte Rialto, it's most famous bridge...

...which offers the best view of the city

and Piazza San Marco, Venice's main square

Home of the beautiful Basilica San Marco

and a ridiculous number of too-friendly pigeons.

After relaxing for a bit and watching the goldolas go by...

(Which are way overpriced, by the way)..

We did some shopping on this street

Where they sold a ton of masks, in honor of Carnevale

Some of which were very interesting...

And others that were very cute!

We also saw wooden toy vendors

The biggest meringues I've ever laid eyes on...

And very detailed marzipan candies.

Next we headed to dinner, where I was reminded of how much I love language barriers (porky mushrooms, anyone?)...

how much I love gnocchi, especially when it's in a cheese sauce...

and how my eyes...

...are bigger than my stomach. I couldn't come close to finishing my hazelnut amaretto sundae, even though it was delicious.

We relaxed next to the canal for a little while after dinner, and soon it was time to head back to the hotel. We had an early morning ahead of us the next day.

So we caught a final glimpse of the beautiful city...

and caught the bus back to our hotel.

My review of Venice? Everyone needs to go there before they die. It is absolutely breathtaking, and contrary to popular belief, it doesn't smell (although I would think it might in July and August, when it's the hottest there.) It is so relaxing there because there aren't a ton of things to see...most of your time is spent walking and admiring the water and views.

In my opinion, the best part of visiting Venice is getting lost in the confusing, narrow streets. :)

The next post will be about our short stint in Padova before we left to come back to Rome!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Long time no (real) post! My weekend trip this weekend was amazing...we hit up three cities in three days and got to see so much, including my friend Kristen, who is studying in Padova, the city we visited on Sunday.

I'm going to recap each day separately, since I took a lot of pictures (surprise, surprise :))

Bright and early on Friday morning (4:45am to be exact) my roommate Jen and I woke up and left for the Termini (train) station. Our train left at 6:50am, but we wanted to ensure that we'd catch the first bus, since buses start running at 5:30am. We got to the station, and I figured I should use the bathroom before we left...only to find out that you need to pay to use the bathroom in train stations/some public places in Italy?? I mean, it was only 0.80 euros, but I was legitimately offended haha. So of course I waited until we got on the train where I could use the on-board bathroom for free, thankyouverymuch.

Leaving Rome

After a four hour ride with a few stops in other cities, we arrived in Venice. We stayed in an outskirt of the main city, because hotels in Venice center (think on the water) are wayyy out of our meager student budgets. Out hotel was about a 15 minute walk from the train station and after we found it and checked in, we grabbed something to eat and headed back to the train station so we could head out for Verona. Verona is the city where Romeo and Juliet took place, and Jen and I really wanted to see Juliet's tomb and house, so we figured we may as well do it since it was only two hours away from Venice and we had the whole day free.

Pretty Verona

After walking for a bit from the train station, we came upon our first destination

As we walked in, we caught this hilarious sign...

There was a museum that you could walk through which led to the tomb, so we decided to do that so we could see some artwork too

The museum led us to a pretty outdoor garden

Which led us to the tomb entrance

The tomb area was pretty creepy...very cold and dark

In front of the tomb

Afterwards we headed to Juliet's house. This was a bit of a walk from the tomb, and we saw some interesting things along the way, including the best car decal ever

Almost every store/restuarant in town borrowing Shakespeare's characters

Vespas everywhere

And many piazzas

We finally got to Juliet's house, and were greeted by this statue of her

And here's the house...this the *the* balcony that Romeo courted Juliet from, according to some

Hey, Charles Dickens was here back in the day too...

Posing with the balcony in the background

All of these love notes from travelers were pinned up on the entryway to the house

That concluded our stay in Verona! We headed back to the train station to wait for our train, something we had grown accustomed to...

Next up...Venice!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

First trip

Tomorrow one of my roommates and I are off to our first weekend trip!

We're taking the train to Venice and checking into our hotel there, then taking a day trip to Verona (which was the setting of the story of Romeo and Juliet).

On Saturday we're spending the whole day in Venice, and on Sunday we're taking a short trip to Padova to have lunch with my friend from home who is studying there for the semester. Our train leaves Venice at 3pm on Sunday and we'll get back to Rome around 7pm.

It should be an awesome weekend...I will definitely have lots of pictures to share when I get home. :)

Monday, September 21, 2009


A few days ago I discovered a fresh fruit and vegetable stand near our apartment. It's a few blocks away, and basically you walk into a store that's all open on the inside except for rows and rows of tables covered with produce.

The selection was endless and I couldn't believe how cheap everything was. And if I weren't already impressed enough, I was definitely sold when I saw that they had pomegranates! They're my favorite but are usually hard to find at home, and when I do find them at home they're usually $2 each.

So I got two pomegranates, a big bunch of grapes, four plums and a bag of chopped mixed vegatables...

...for 6 euro (which is equivalent to $8.80). Amazing! And it is all sooo delicious and fresher than the fruit and veggies that they sell in the supermarkets here.

I am going to go there for all of my produce now, especially because it will save me money in the long run. And I made friends with one of the workers...he barely spoke any english but he told me that his name is Lido and asked me where I was from. When I said New Jersey, he had no idea what I was talking about, but as soon as I clarified with "America" he knew right away. Hah!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Festa Nazionale dell'Altraeconomia

Yesterday a new friend that I made in my drawing class invited me to go to an "organic festival" with her that was being held right here in Rome. She didn't know much about it, but she said that some of her roommates had gone a few days earlier and were still raving about it. It sounded good to me!

My roommate Kristin and I quickly left to meet Rose so we could all head over there together. Here are we are waiting for her

When she arrived we caught the number 3 bus and rode it a few stops. We got off and were unsure of exactly where to go, so we asked a local and she pointed us in the right direction. After a nice short walk, we arrived.

Our first impression of the festival was a good one, because they gave us a goodie bag as soon as we walked in!

Inside was some literature about the festival (all in Italian) and an amazing organic chocolate bar that was orange flavored. It sounds strange, but it was SO GOOD. And it is already gone...

So it turns out that this festival was not only a showcase of local organic foods, but also of organic crafts (there was a tent selling handmade decorative doormats) and energy-saving projects that are underway. Not going to lie though...the food was definitely our main objective!

Here's a view of some of the tents

This guy was cutting into a leg and selling the meat...yuck (unless you're into that kind of thing)


Most of the tents were giving away free food samples...we tried cheese, organic honey on a big slice of toasted bread (this was amazing and the vendor gave us a little jar of honey for free so we will be recreating this at our apartment) and a piece of a lemon flavored cookie.

There were also vendors selling organic goodies, and since we hadn't eaten lunch that day, we took full advantage of the fact that everything was organic as well as inexpensive!

Freshly roasted corn on the cob sprinkled with salt...kind of expensive at 2,50 euro but it was sooooo worth it

Fresh bruschetta for 1,50 euro...heavenly

In addition, we also each drank a can of soda that's supposed to be better for you (not sure if I believe that, but I'll go with it) and were feeling quite full by this point. However, we soon saw this guy...

...and realized that we needed crepes!

They don't look very pretty because he folded the plates over to keep them warm, but they were amazing. The three of us split them...the one on the left has Nutella in the middle and the one on the right has strawberry jam

As an aside, crepe making is definitely an art. And I would most definitely suck at it if I attempted it.

We each bought a bag of these apples...we got all these for only 1,50 euro. That's only $2.20...and they're organic!

This festival was definitely one of the coolest things I've done since I've been friends and I were literally the only non-Italians there, and it was so awesome to attend a local, non-turisty event. The location of it was kind of tucked away, and most tourists (myself included) would never find it if we weren't 'in the know' about it. My friend Rose's roommates that told her about it learned about it from one of their Italian professors.

Besides the things in Rome that you can't NOT see when you're here (the Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, etc.) I'm trying my best to immerse myself in Roman culture as much as possible and attend events that few Americans go to. So the fact that this festival was full of Italians and the fact that it was about organic foods (which is something that is important to my friends and I) made it so much better!