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Bonjour from Italy!

Bonjour from Italy!

Yes, the subject line to this post is in french. I have the natural tendency to greet the majority of the Italian population like this, and cannot seem to shake it. The normal italian greeting would be a simple ciao, but apparently that doesn’t matter in my thought-process. I’m sure the people who don’t know me probably think I am a french or canadian tourist… which is actually better than being thought of as a stupid american, so I got that going for me.

I’ve been out and about in Roma and beyond. During the week, I generally stay in Rome, visiting the Colosseum, The Forum, Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain, Borgias Gardens, and St. Peter’s Square. The Colosseum and The Forum were class trips for my Art and Architecture class, and the other Roman attractions were done with friends at night. And then this weekend, my program went to Pompeii during the day on Friday. The town is a pile of ruins that were oddly preserved by the volcanic ash that showered on it way back when. As beautiful as the dusty town was, the more distracting feature of it were the scattered penile organs engraved on the buildings’ walls and the streets, pointing to the nearest brothel. Yep.

Moving on, from Pompeii me and four other friends went on to Sorrento which was a short commuter train ride away. We spent the night in Sorrento which was really great. Our hotel was up on a mountain and looked over the bay. That night we had dinner along the main strip, which was closed down so people could walk without dodging the rather aggressive italian drivers and then we walked up and down the main street going into the different shops, which were full of trinkets. The town was all about the lemons, it had lemon trees everywhere and was filled with Lemoncello. Lemoncello is a really sweet drink with lemon juice, sugar, and some kind of liquor. After one sip, I had a smile that lasted for a good 45 seconds because it was so sweet. We then naturally migrated to a karaoke bar where there was nothing but embarrassment. Lots of college kids, and a a group of VERY old locals. One had a hearing aid, and another serenaded the bar with a lovely rendition of Mercy by Duffy. The next morning we took a ferry to the island of Capri, which was only a 30 minute trip on a really nice boat. Once in Capri we looked around for a bit at the main street of more trinkets and such. Capri is absolutely beautiful… seriously the most beautiful place I have ever seen. The water is the bluest water I have ever seen, and the people are the nicest people we’ve met so far. We stumbled upon a company that did boat tours around the island, and since we didn’t have any other plans for the day, we decided to do it. It was the best the 20 euros (each) we spent. The medium-sized boat took us out for two hours and was the most glorious thing ever. The weather was perfect (I, naturally, got a little crispy), and the whole boat was like one big bed with enough room for all five of us, plus one crew member. It was extra nice because the company that owned the boat were actually americans… or some variation of american. The two captains were brother and sister who have lived on the island for their whole lives, but the their mother just moved to Capri from Connecticut four years ago, and ran the business.

After boating and putzing around Capri on Saturday, we took another ferry to Naples so we could catch a high-speed train back to Rome. As much as I hate to say it, Naples was a complete dump. It literally looked like a third-world country… or at least the route from the ferry station to the train station did. We were warned about big groups of little children who will swarm you and take you for everything you got. They will literally cut your back pockets to let things fall out and cut your bag straps to run away with your stuff. We didn’t see any of this actually happened, but I would definitely not be surprised to see a gang of toddlers snatch up some tourists fanny pack… the town was bleak. Our train back to Rome was delayed for 30 minutes, so we decided to indulge ourselves in a little American comfort called McDonalds. We brought the food on the train and rode the two hours back to Rome, eating fries and then sleeping. We got to Rome late Saturday night and then took the Roman subway system to the nearest bus stop, which was our first foray into the subway of Rome, and it went very well.

Sunday morning we all got up to run the Race for a Cure Breast Cancer 5k in Rome. The race didn’t start until 10am, which is when it starts to get pretty steamy in downtown Roma. And if you didn’t already know, italians smell on a regular basis, so after a jog in the sun there was a distinct stench in the air. There was no water during the race, and let’s just say that after a week of eating gilato, pizza, and pasta at least once a day, none of us were too limber or had the appropriate lung capacity. However it went well, we all finished. And it was absolutely packed! I think I heard over 60,000 people were there. Nobody got timed, which helped our self-esteem a little. Because the city was so packed with the race, and the race closed down lots of streets, getting home was quite a challenge. We probably did out own little 5k tour around Rome trying to find our bus. Once we found the bus stop, it was thankfully next to a pizza place and we all treated ourselves. The weekend was tiring, but we’re back at school and in need of clean clothes and some sleep. We taking a weekend-long class program trip to Abruzto next weekend, which includes a wine tasting, a cooking class, and a hike. The first two sound amazingly italian, but the hike sounds a little out of my league.

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