Thursday, July 28, 2011

Thank God for Rick Steves.

Ok so last week was a crazy week as always.  It is never a boring night in Viterbo because let's face it, we go out every night.  Shu has been our go-to place and making friends with the bar tenders is always a bonus.  Unfortunately we have been introduced to cross-bows which sure taste amazing!  All week I was excited about Rome so it was hard for me to focus on school but somehow I managed.  I think I am finally understanding how hard it is to learn a new language.  It is an entirely different way of learning than I am used to and I hate the fact that I can't break apart and translate the entire sentence word for word but I am getting used to looking at it as a whole instead of each individual word.  Of course having Antonio come over and help me for 3 hours a day helped a lot too.

Last week we were also introduced to the best meal I've had since being in Italy.  La Trattoria is a restaurant that only has a few things on their menu each day.  It is a family owned restaurant and is a very small hometown type thing.  They are, however, famous for their pear pasta.  I can't even begin to explain how good this stuff is.  I'm going to attempt to make it when I get back to the US but I know it won't be anything similar to how they do it.  Maybe I will just have Tina come back with me to help.  Tina is the daughter of the woman who owns the restaurant and she is our surrogate Italian grandmother.  She is so sweet and gets excited whenever we come in (we have been in three times since our first, an going again tonight).  The first night we went in, it was just me, Kate, and Alma.  We ordered vino della casa (house wine) and she brought that out with some bruschetta.  After that we got our main dish and we couldn't even believe how good it was.  There really are no words.  After we were finished with that a table of men who were in there bought us some dessert with dessert wine and that was amazing as well.  I don't think I have ever been so full and happy in my entire life.  Just thinking about it makes me want to go right now ( but i have to wait another two hours until Kate gets back)

Another amazing food experience was Thursday night when Antonio invited Kate, Alma, and I over to his apartment to cook us dinner.  He made pasta with pomodoro e tonno (tomato and tuna) and it was awesome!  We all sat around playing cards, laughing, and talking until we decided to go out.  All the boys were so great and they really know how to treat the dinner guests.  They served us our plates, made sure our drinks were always full, cleared the table, and refused to let us do the dishes.  (I think we should bring them all back with us).  That night we went out again and had a great time.  A bunch of USAC-ers were out at Shu and of course we showed Italy how we do it back in America!

On Friday we rose bright and early to go to the beach and the tarot garden.  Laying on the beach was amazing and I just wanted to stay all day.  We were only there for a couple hours so it was just a little tease, but this weekend I get to go back and it will be wonderful.  After the beach we went to the trot garden which was unlike anything I have ever seen before.  It is a garden full of concrete statues with mosaic tiles decorating them.  It is a little creepy at first, but once I got used to it, I realized the beauty of it.  You can read more about the history and see pictures of it here :

After returning from the tarot garden we had about 30 min to run home, shower, change, and get back to go to another little town and watch some members of our group perform at a wine tasting event.  They all did great and the wine tasting was so cool!  I was really tired so by the end of the night I was a little grouchy and just wanted to get home because I knew it would be an early morning the next day.

Saturday Kate and I got up and got ready to head to Rome with Emily, Cathryn, Nicolette, Rachel, and Josh.  I slept about the whole way there, and of course Kate took a great picture of me (what are roommates for right?)  When we got to Rome, Kate and I went to check into our hotel and just walked around before we had reservations to the Vatican.  Once we got to St. Peter's square we were in awe of everything.  It was amazing just to be standing there knowing how much history and how many important people had been there.  We went through the Vatican museum which was HUGE and had soo much stuff.  It was great, but there were way too many people and it was very crowded.  At the end of it, however, was the Sistine chapel and looking up at the ceiling was amazing.  It was almost as if the pictures were coming out of the ceiling.  I was a little surprised at how small it was, but the detail of all the artwork made up for it.  After the Sistine chapel we made our way over to St. Peter's Basilica and I was speechless.  It was by far the most beautiful thing I had ever seen in my entire life.  I can't even begin to put in to words how majestic and amazing this place was.  I was almost in tears just because I couldn't imagine ever being lucky enough to stand there.  At this point my camera was broken and Kate's was dead so we didn't get pictures, but I will steal Emily's because I know she got some really good ones.  At 5:00 we were able to go to mass at the main altar which was one of the best experiences I've had here.  It is still amazing to me that people get to go to mass there every Sunday.  It was so surreal and I would recommend going any time you visit Italy.

After mass we went to eat at a little pizzeria where I had veal for the first time in Italy.  It was better than I expected it to be and I was really pleasantly surprised.  When we were done eating, Kate and I went back to our hostel to relax for a little while before going out.  At around 10:00 we started walking around Rome just to walk.  We didn't really have a destination, which was great because we totally got lost, but it was so worth it.  I fell in love with Rome that night.  We ended up at campo di fiore, which is a market by day and a "hangout" by night.  We got some wine at a little bar and sat down for a while just to relax and people watch.  After our wine, we started walking some more and ended up by the Trevi fountain.  I is so beautiful at night.  It is said if you throw one coin in you are assured a return trip to Rome, two coins leads to new romance, and three will ensure a marriage or divorce.  Of course I threw ONE in!  We got gelato and sat and watch the fountain for a while and decided to make our way back to the hostel.

On sunday morning we got up and headed to the Collosseum, Forum, and Palatine hill.  Out of all of those, I liked the collosseum the best.  It was amazing to walk through everything and see how big all the structures were and to imagine how they were able to build such amazing things with simple machinery. After spending most of the day walking we were all exhausted so we went to hang out at the main train station before going to eat.  We decided to eat at Hard Rock cafe and it was great because I really felt like I was back in America for a little while.  I had an awesome hamburger and it cured my homesickness for the time being.  It was nice to get that little taste of home while being half way around the world for so long.  When we were finished eating we met up with the rest of our group and went to an Opera..

The Opera itself was interesting, and I really enjoyed it, but I was so tired that all I wanted to do was shower and sleep.  It was a great experience and I'm really glad I went, but after that opera and then one we went to last night (Wednesday) I think I am all opera'ed out for a while.  It is cool to see because it's such a big part of the culture, but it's hard to stay focused when I have no idea whats going on.

We finally made it back to Viterbo around 2am and I showered and hit the bed for some much needed sleep.

This week has been pretty uneventful.  I had another test on Tuesday, which I think went pretty well, but hopefully I find out soon.  The weather here has been's been pretty rainy the past couple days, but that also means that it hasn't been too hot which is nice.  We are going to the beach this weekend and it's supposed to be sunny at 80s which will be PERFECT.  I feel sorry for all my Kansas people that are enduring 115 degree weather :(

While I love Italy, I am getting to the point where I am ready to come home.  I miss Straiter, normal showers, a big bed, and all my family.  I will definitely be sad when I have to leave the people that I spend every day with, but having Kate in Manhattan will sure help.  We are planning a trip to Vegas over Christmas break to see all our Vegas girls as well, so I'm definitely looking forward to that too!

Well I am off to eat some amazing pear pasta and go shopping with Kate!  I will update you again next week!

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