Tag: Holy Week

A Sicilian Easter Weekend

A Sicilian Easter Weekend

Easter has always been a holiday I celebrated with big family meals, Easter egg hunts, and attending church, so I knew this year it would be hard to celebrate this holiday away from home. Because my friends and I were all in the same home-sick boat we did our best to make our most of Easter in Italy by taking a little beach vacation to Sicily (the island the boot of Italy is kicking).

As soon as we landed I could tell we picked the perfect spot for our long weekend. Sicily is filled with all sorts of cliffs, hills, mountains and of course the beach. The coastline was absolutely beautiful and the Mediterranean was an incredible blue and turquoise.

The AirBnB we rented for the weekend was in the town of Mondello–a tiny beach town just north of Palermo. The apartment was just around the corner from the center of town, 3 blocks from the water, and had a view of the sea from the bedroom. Yea, it wasn’t too bad.

We ate lunch at a pizzeria just off the boardwalk and we were proud to say that we could definitely taste a difference between the Roman pizza we’re used to and the Sicilian pizza (I like Sicilian better). Then after a quick afternoon nap we laid on the beach until the sun sunk below the hills. We did a little grocery shopping at the alimentari for snacks and ingredients to make our own Easter dinner on Sunday. We ate dinner next door to the pizzeria we were at for lunch. My friends enjoyed some fresh seafood pasta, while I opted for pizza again. The rest of our evening was spent playing card games in our apartment.

After sleeping in on Sunday morning we inspected the goodies the Easter bunny left us (thanks for sending us sweets Mom and Dad!), put on our swimsuits (even if it wasn’t quite warm enough to swim) and made our way down to the beach. We laid in the sun for the next few hours, managed to get a little sun burnt, then ate some gelato.

We decided that the best way to make it feel like a holiday was to cook dinner ourselves. It wasn’t the ham and potatoes I usually get at home, but we cooked up some pretty good (and authentic) pasta. I think we pulled off a pretty good holiday weekend for ourselves. I was grateful to be in place where the only thing I wanted to see was the beach, rather than a bunch of museums and monuments.

Sicily on Easter made for one Buona Pasqua!

Holy Week, The Family, The Eternal City

Holy Week, The Family, The Eternal City

This year during Holy Week, my family has been blessed beyond belief with one incredible week together in the Eternal City. I’ve been awfully spoiled this semester by not only having my grandparents come to visit in February, but now my parents and brother as well. …And don’t worry our family selfie skills are improving.

SUNDAY. My family arrived to the Zone Hotel a little before noon on Sunday. I was greeted with big hugs, a bit of a jet-lagged haze, and some home-made chocolate chip cookies. After a quick campus tour and some pizza, I dragged the 3 of them downtown for what turned into a bigger adventure than it should have been. Rome was hosting a street food truck festival that I figured would be a lot of fun–and I’m sure it would have been if your company wasn’t running on no sleep after an overseas flight. I couldn’t have been happier to be with my family again, but let’s just say it was a relief to get them off to bed early so they’d be able to enjoy Rome a little better on Monday.

MONDAY. Because my family came to visit the city that doubles as the capital of Catholicism during Holy Week we strategized our tourist-ing to avoid the crowds as best we could. We planned our trip to the Vatican early in the week in hopes of avoiding the masses that would be around that weekend and we actually pulled it off quite well. Thanks to an early start that morning the line for St. Peter’s Basilica was the shortest I’d ever seen it, this left us enough time to see the cathedral and climb the dome. To avoid even more tourist lines we booked tickets for the Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel online and were able to walk right in and take our time seeing everything we wanted to. Though the Vatican City is the smallest country in the world it certainly houses some of the most incredible art and architecture I’ve ever seen.

TUESDAY. To make sure they saw all of the Roman essentials, Tuesday became Palatine Hill/Roman Forum/Colosseum/Trevi Fountain Day and it actually worked out pretty well. With guidebook in hand we tackled Palatine Hill first and since that’s usually everyone’s last stop we were just about the only people there. The Roman Forum was a little more crowded, but definitely still enjoyable. I had to come back to campus for class that afternoon, but my family managed to tour the Colosseum, eat gelato, find the Trevi Fountain, and successfully take Roman buses back to the hotel before I came to meet them that evening. Pretty impressive for a bunch of tourists.

WEDNESDAY. We slowed down our fast-paced week a bit on Wednesday with a picnic in Villa Borghese, preceded by a wander through the park of course. I had to set them loose again that afternoon while I went to class and they checked out the Spanish Steps. That evening my family came to the JFRC’s calcio games to be Forza Giallo’s biggest fans–they managed to cheer us on to our 1st victory of the season!

THURSDAY. Thursday evening we did a little exploring in some of my favorite Roman neighborhoods. After getting off the bus at Piazza Cavour we made our way across the Tiber to the Pantheon–I’d seen this at night before, but we were able to go inside and the architecture of the dome blew me away. Just down the street from there is Piazza Navona, which was buzzing with a really fun atmosphere at that time in the evening. We made our way over to Campo de’ Fiori (after stopping for some gelato) then wandered the streets before dinner. We ate at the infamous “Pear Pasta” restaurant, a perfect way to end our night out on the town.

FRIDAY. We spent our last day in the city visiting a few other Roman classics. We saw the Baths of Diocletian, which is now actually a basilica designed by Michelangelo that stands where these Roman baths would have been. Then made our way outside of the old city walls to tour the Catacombs of Priscilla. Catacombs were high on my list of things to see before I leave Rome and I’m glad we all got to see them together–pretty creepy, but very interesting.

I am beyond thrilled I had the opportunity to show my family around the city I’ve been calling home for the last few months. I’ve definitely missed them, but before they know it I’ll be home with them in The States again!