“Did we just get oinked at?”

So, I’m currently in the process of reflecting on the past 10 days of vacation. And I type this reflection to you from my bed which means, yes readers, I have finally found the solution to my internet problem. Thank you, Nathan Eberhart…and SFR. But mostly Nathan Eberhart. Anyway, my meandering thoughts brought me to one of my favorite moments in the Italy Extravaganza: the oinking 60+ year old man at the Vatican. As we 6 Americans thoroughly enjoyed our gelatos (and crepe) a little old man hobbled over, peered at us over his tortoise brimmed, oversized bifocals and then started snorting at us. Yes, I’m serious. And this wasn’t just any snort – for those of you who have heard me laugh, you know that’s saying something. Picture the most horrendous noise that you can think of, a mix of week 3 of a never ending cold/stuffy nose and Shakira’s voice when she does that tribal thing in “Whereever, Whenever.” It was absolutely, for no better word, gross! At first, we just stood there confused. Tongues poised for the next lick, the snorting noise came again – this time louder and with a vengeance. It reached our ears as the cherry and chocolate met on my taste buds. We all stopped – incredulous. Was he snorting at us!? Now, keep in mind that all of us are studying in France and, the French have a habit of commenting on those who take their food, snacks and – worst of all for me – coffees, to go. Thus, it’s not uncommon for us to overhear a “bon appetit” as we walk through the street eating our freshly prepped and bought sandwiches from the Greek stand just 5 minutes away from school. Hey, we’re busy! Still, in all of the snide remarks thrown my way by my host-countrymen, never had I encountered such a way to say “hey, Americans, get a table!”

Dana’s first response, of course: “Guys, he’s calling us fat.” And considering the amounts of pasta and gelato consumed by us on a daily basis, it was a possibility. Maybe he saw the mounds of ice cream and saw it as his window of opportunity to live us to the “Mean Old Man” stereotype. Maybe he was envious but had forgotten his wallet at home and thus, had to remain gelato-less for the afternoon. Maybe..who the hell knows. Regardless, I can say I’ve been oinked at in one of the holiest places in the world. AND that gelato was some of the best I’ve ever had. So take that Evil Oinking Man! I’m sure my reflections will breed more stories later, but my newly acquired Internet just seems to keep navigating to Ch131.com and the 3rd episode of Gossip Girl. I can’t fight with it so early in our relationship, so I should probably suck it up and watch some more absolutely horrible, but totally guilty pleasure TV. *sigh of satisfaction* Finally.

Halloweekend in Roma

Well pink bob wigs translate the same in any language: you’ll always catch some looks in them. And that we did – especially walking into Tony’s Ristorante (recommended by none other than Steven) which makes me realize that most any food I’d eaten to this point in my life was nothing in comparison. This realization will probably aid me on my diet because all food really does pale in comparison after last night’s fried calamari and pollo parmeggiano.

Anyway, tonight’s our last night in Rome before heading back to France (sad) so we’re going to spend it eating some pasta, gelato, cannoli and singing kareokee – because why wouldn’t i know where to find some good old fashioned Monday night open mike nights? photos to follow – keep an eye out on Facebook!

Warning: This post may cause jealousy, drooling or just an overall want to book a flight to Rome.

In the event of the last one happening, do it – we’re here til Tuesday. It’s been a jam packed two days in Rome so far, and nothing short of amazing. After arriving around dinner time Thursday night to a room of 6 beds packed into a room, the size of which can only be described as Polly Pocket-esque, we decided to ease our pain at a cafe down the street with some good (much needed) wine and pasta – tagliatelle to be exact. We awoke the next morning, rectified the room sitch and were off to our 1pm Coliseum reservation where Dana and I clearly got into the whole gladiator, Gate of Life, kill or be killed thing. Hey, when in Rome…

After that, we crossed the street (traversiamo for all you Italian/”Eat Pray Love” enthusiasts out there!) to the ruins of the Roman Forum where we spent time in Cesar’s old stomping grounds – his living room really provided us with a great view of the rest of the Senate area.

Cesar’s old coffee table? Anyway, Hannah’s years spent in Mr. Scott’s Latin class really came in handy here and we sat and listened as she regaled us with tales of Sextius and Cesar, Romulus and Remus, Optimus Prime and – dammit, that’s Transformers. We then walked through Rome to buy our tickets to the Roma vs. Lecce soccer game. Because the world is so absolutely small and it’s so insanely normal to see a kid from your graduating high school class of 161 people – we would of course literally walk into our old classmate Gideon and his parents, freshly arrived from the 914!

We proceeded on to a wonderful dinner, made for us by some new friends in their Rome apartment. Pasta tastes better in Italy, even when it is out of a box and made by Americans. We then went to the Ice Bar (gloves and futuristic jackets included!) for our first real night out in Rome. Sadly, my camera didn’t make the trip to this winter wonderland with us – I learned my lesson about water and technology in Munich – but I’m sure these pictures will appear on Facebook soon enough. From what I’ve seen of the photo archives, these are shots to be on the look out for.

Needless to say, waking up was a bit difficult this morning. But we managed to turn our 12:30 start time into a jam packed day of Roman conquering. We started at the Vatican and saw, of course, the Sistine Chapel and the Basilica. I’ve been lucky enough that this trip is a series of 2nds and 3rds for me and when my friend Jamie asked me if it was boring to re-do all of these landmarks and tourist sites, I didn’t even hesitate to say ‘no’ because, honestly, who can scoff at seeing the Sistine Chapel twice? It’s been fantastic for me to get to revisit these things, not only with a new group of people, but (selfishly) with no pressure to have to see everything because, well, I already did. It’s like getting to eat the whole cake and then being told you can lick the spoon – and don’t even pretend you’re too cool to lick the spoon.

After this ever so attractive shot in front of the fountain in St. Peter’s we made a quick-change and headed out to the Roma vs. Lecce game that we were tipped off about by our resident trip planner, Steve Antenucci. Quick aside: Steve, if we could’ve bought you a plane ticket, we would’ve. THANK YOU SO MUCH for everything. And I’m sure we’ll be kissing your feet after dinner at Tony’s tomorrow night.

Our view from our seats!

(Sorry for the size! This one’s a mobile upload) We were oh so spirited in our Roma tee’s and jersey’s – #10, Totti for me! After the game we hopped the Metro and headed to the Trevi Fountain. My wish for amazing pizza was obviously granted because we stumbled upon a great restaurant a few blocks away. Oh the magic of throwing coins into Italian fountain water!

And now, I am one exhausted Italian. Well toured, well fed and teetering on the brink of food/gelato coma, I sign off happy and exhausted but completely and totally ready for Halloween in Rome tomorrow night (YAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYYAYA). I’d get ready for stories and photos. One word teaser: pinkbobwig. Okay, maybe that was a phrase where I took the spaces out but still, the point stands.

Voyage to the Homeland: “c’est mon patrimoine!”

Yes readers, this marks the blog beginning of my 10 days in Italy – and the homeland has been good to me right from the start. Unlike our most recent foray into Paris, which began with a cancelled train, a 3-hour flight delay and some stereotypically (realistically) rude Parisian cab drivers, our Italy travels got off quite easily. Though it was a bit surprising getting on a less than 20 person, propeller plane for our flight from Marseilles to Milan. Okay, more than surprising – I had a slight breakdown. Great suggestions on flights PANGE.

But we did get to Milan in time to enjoy a gorgeous meal at the lovely Hotel Cavour and then hit the pillow hard before we did some serious Milan touring. And by touring, we really hit all of the essentials: Prada, Armani and Dolce & Gabbana, to name a few. We’re such avid and dedicated tourists! And after sampling the local shopping scene, we made sure to get Gelato #1 (chocolata e amereno per me) all before heading back and showering before Fantastic Dinner #2. I’m going to go all “that couple” on you right now and give you a run down of what I ate for dinner – this will most likely go on all week, so for those of you dieting, this may be the time to step away from the computer or train your eyes to pass over key words such as tagliatelle and mozzarella. That being said, one of my two Milanese traveling partners (Laura) and I shared an artichoke and cheese fondu crèpe which, though seemingly French inspired, paired perfectly with Italian bread. Go figure! (Sidenote: yes parents, I tried artichoke and liked it. Believe it.) For the main course, tagliatelle with salmon – MMMMMMMM – and then espresso followed by On the House Limoncella. This stuff’s always good but there’s something about being in Italy – or maybe just the fact that its authentic here – but it always tastes better in Italy! Milan was no exception to this rule.

After dinner we moved on to the nightlife. I’ve read that in Milan you go out to be seen, so dressing the part was definitely a necessity. Clad in Euro-chic, AKA black from head to toe with some red lipstick for flare, we took on the cobblestone streets which are the new Archnemesis of my favorite black heels. Bar hopping, meeting locals and sampling the Milanese Vodka Diet Coke combo definitely made for a great night. Hearing a medley of Sandy and Danny croon hits from “Grease” and watching drunk Italians do the “YMCA” was a high point. We then spent Sunday on the streets, walking and wandering through the streets of Milan before catching our midday train to Firenze, where we’ll be spending the next four days and will be joined by Dana Hauck who just returned from her week long stay in Morocco!

So far my favorite part is that, for me, this trip has been one big refresher in language. It’s like that Celine Dion song says: it’s all coming back to me…now. And it really is! After one semester of Italian 101 and a lifetime of Italian slang (moppine, anyone?) I’m finding that maybe I can kind of, sort of, maybe speak un poco d’italiano. Oh Professor Arduini if you could see me lavorare-ing now!

Pictures to come soon. I was far too lazy and tired to find my camera cord in my mess of a bag to insert pictures into this blog entry. But fear not loyal followers, the pictures will come! And by loyal followers I mean, Mom and Dad thanks for reading and I’ll post pictures soon. Bueno Notte!