The first thing you need to know about our trip to Italy is that Josh and I were babies when we went. Case in point:
Secondly, a lot of places in Rome we planned on visiting did not (do not) allow you to take any bags inside. So, we borrowed a pocket sized digital camera from Josh's sister (2006 era as well, please keep in mind) to take with us most places. Which is to say, these pictures are not all that great. Even still, it's kind of hard to take a bad picture of Italy, so that helps.
I was in my third year of the design program at KSU, which is the year all the cool kids (and by cool, I mean rich) got to spend an entire semester living abroad in Florence, Italy while the rest of us paupers kept the lights running in the old ID building in Kent, Ohio. It was a little depressing. And so, as a consolation prize Josh and I managed to pull together a trip to Italy over spring break. It wasn't three months but it was a week and it was with Josh and it was completely amazing.
And since it wasn't school-related we got to control everything we did and everywhere we went - so we split our time there between Rome, Florence and Venice. And also there was no homework, so that was a bonus.
Looking back on all these old pictures helped to bring back some of the details I'd forgotten all about until now. Like our first horrifying cab ride to the hotel because everyone drives like an insane person over there. And our hilarious cab driver who teasingly called Josh a little "bandito" for haggling over the ridiculously inflated price he tried to charge for the ride. And how Josh befriended the front desk man, Carlo, at our hotel in Rome and on our first night there (jet lagged and starving) he recommended a little neighborhood pizza place that was open late. We spent our first night in Italy conversing over two gigantic pizzas draped in slabs of salty proscuitto and it felt like total heaven.
Rome, itself, the every day city where the locals do their actual living and working was not initially the idyllic beauty I'd imagined it might me. It was crowded with people and traffic and I remember a lot of graffiti and stray trash being thrown about. And I also remember being so surprised when we exited the metro and came up to street level and were suddenly face to face with the colosseum as cars went whizzing by, honking and swerving. Somehow I'd expected it to be more sacred, more set apart from the city, but it's not. It's right there in the middle of it all.
But whatever Rome lacks in ambiance it more than makes up for in the almost gratuitous number of historical and architectural sites. You walk through the Roman Forum and you literally just trip over hunks of 7th century columns. Do you even realize how old that is??? We are talking B.C. here folks. That is just mind blowing to me.
I think this is the first documented instance of Josh doing big arms!
We also visited Vatican City while we were in Rome and without even knowing it showed up while the Pope was outside giving a speech in the middle of St. Peter's Square. I'm not sure how many people accidentally see the Pope in person, but you can add two more to the list. It was so surreal. Between that and seeing the Swiss Guard, it was definitely one of those "pinch me" moments.
One of the most amazing things we experienced while we were in Italy was a tour of the underground necropolis buried beneath St. Peter's Basilica. We'd heard about this tour, which they call the Scavi Tour, while doing research for the trip. To get on this tour you actually have to write to the excavation department of the Vatican and make a formal request. The tour, if you're lucky enough to get to go, is just a small group, maybe 15 people and one guide. You're not allowed to take in any cameras or bags and they even have a really strict dress code, skirts below the knee and arms fully covered before you're allowed to enter. Once you do though, it's unlike anything you've ever seen. Of course I don't have any pictures but they take you down through the ancient catacombs of the old church and eventually to the place where they say St. Peter himself is actually buried.
we saw the Trevi Fountain
and the Spanish Steps
and the Pantheon, of course
We did not, however, see the Sistine chapel. We were only in Rome for a few days and it was only open for visitors at certain times and on certain days. When it came down to it we had to make a choice, stay in the city and use our one chance at seeing that famous ceiling or hop on a bus and go see one of the places I had been dreaming of visiting since I first laid eyes on it in an art history book years before. To me, the choice was clear and I hoped beyond hope I would not regret my decision.
We were headed to Tivoli.