After leaving Greece I was excited to taste the food of the Italians. We arrived at the airport and waited for 90 minutes for our bags. The luggage belt is so full of bags that they can’t place any new ones down, proving to be another inefficient airport. When we finally got our stuff, we make our way to get our first Italian meal: airport pizza. We pick up a car and end up getting stuck in traffic for three hours. When we finally get out, we get completely fooled by the navigation system, and almost get sent down a road that becomes one meter wide. If it weren’t for a nice Italian man warning us, we’d still be there. We arrived at nine pm. Luckily, the landlady knew a restaurant that was open, and we went out for a great meal. Our time in the village we were living in was extremely relaxing. You could see mount Vesuvius from our balcony. We completed multiple hikes down and up from Sorrento, the city below us.
One day we made an epic journey through the Amalfi coast, and up to Vesuvius, the volcano that destroyed Pompeii. We hiked the volcano to see stunning views of Naples, and a massive crater. It was very windy, so we ducked into one of the souvenir shops for hot chocolate. It was a day I’ll never forget. Another day, we visited the ruins of Pompeii. The city was so big, you would have to make at least five full day trips to see everything. That day was sweltering hot, but still very enjoyable. We even went inside the amphitheater that Pink Floyd had a concert in in 1972, and again in 2016.
Turns out, there was a go cart track near us, so we did that. I had a crash, and my car got stuck. It was very fun though. We also ended up in Naples for shopping and pizza, because it was invented there. We saw the place where Julia Roberts ate pizza in that Eat, Prey, Love movie. I haven’t seen it. We decided to eat across the street and avoid the lineup. The pizza was delicious, and I got a nice pair of new shoes for my upcoming ten kilometre race.
The next day, we went down to a beautiful beach. We had heard that there was a swimming hole with ruins around it, which was the reason for our visit. When we managed to find it, we realized it was extremely busy and hard to find a spot. We decided we would just swim for a few minutes and then move spots. We then came to a new section of beach for lunch. We ate leftover pasta and fresh buttered bread, and I read my book. Then we decided to move a third time and went to a really beautiful section overlooking the bay. Though the rocks were sharp, I mostly layer down my towel and continued to read my book. When we got home, we watched Grease. It was a beautiful day, and a good memory.
Rome was the place in Italy I wanted to go most. I am fairly familiar with their mythology and history, but mostly it was so high on my bucket list because of the colosseum. I’d seen it in movies, pictures, documentaries, and I couldn’t leave Italy without seeing it. Our apartment in Rome was small, but very cozy. There was a chalkboard where you could write where you were from. People had drawn South American flags, Swiss flags, and more. Our first day in Rome, we made our way to the legendary coosseum, it’s stone walls standing out among old crumbling apartment buildings. We had gotten up early, so the line was relatively small. The choice was made to take and audio-visual guided tour. We first walked around the middle deck, in between where the middle-class and lower class would have sat. From there you could see the whole arena floor. Or where it would have been, of course. They had removed it long ago to reveal the intricate maze of tunnels where animals and slaves where kept. This way, using trap doors they could make a lion, a zebra, or even a rhinoceros appear “out of thin air”.
We made our way past the two thousand year old gift shop (Just kidding) and over to the lower level. We passed by where the gladiators would sit and practice before their imminent death. When we walked out of the gladiators’ gate, you could almost see the crowd that once filled every stone seat, now reduced to nothing. You could nearly hear the deafening roar of strange rabid beasts, willing to tear your throat out at any moment. You could just about feel the breath of the other gladiators down your back. The gladiators, who you would either die at the hands of, or end them by your own blade. The coliseum was oft filled with water, to provide for real ship battles. After it’s opening thousands of years ago, the emperor sacrificed over five thousand gladiators, and six thousand wild animals in just one-hundred-twenty days. The coliseum was a difficult place to leave, and I promised myself I would return when I was older,
We also visited the Roman forum, which was next to the Palatine hill. The area was full of old, crumbled buildings. There were three massive archways in the distance, larger than I could ever describe, and multiple statues of gods and heroes. It was quite an amazing sight, and one I won’t forget. On the morrow, we visited the renowned Trevi Fountain. This massive structure consists of many statues, with high current streams of cold water rushing by at their ankles. The fountain is built into a large building of marble. Though the area was jammed with tourists, we still managed to snatch up a great spot, and we got awesome photos. We also traveled to the massive white building near the center of town. This building is called The Altar Of The Father Land. Though it is beautifully built, the locals despise its presence, calling it the typewriter (it definitely looks like one) and the “wedding cake”. The reason for all this hate is because it was built in the place of important roman ruins, removing them from their place forever. The view from the roof was stunning, and revealed all of Rome. It was amazing even if it was raining.
The water made the shadows darker, creating better pictures, and made for a magical experience. Next we walked to the Spanish steps. To be completely honest, I still don’t know what they are. We walked up to the top, passing a towering Egyptian obelisk. At the top stood a beautiful church. We entered, and it felt like time was on pause. Inside was so much quieter than the crowd of tourists on the exterior. I know you are supposed to be quiet in church but this had to be the most quiet the church I’d ever been in on the whole trip. When we left the church the noise was overwhelming. The best part of that experience was that I realized how much good a little bit of quiet can do for the brain. The later the following the day we met up with Anna and her family (minus Lisa) with a warm embrace before we set off to revisit the Trevi Fountain. It was even more packed the second time. Another great church we did was the pantheon, a massive dome left unchanged since Roman times. I’m not religious, but I didn’t have to be to appreciate it
The next day we queued up for two and a half hours to enter Vatican City. Another great church we did was the pantheon, a massive dome left unchanged since Roman times. We were to meet Anna and her family in St. Peter’s Basillica after we visited the Sistine chapel. The sistine chapel, let me tell you, will not seem worth it. I know that seems awful to say considering it is an ultra rare opportunity. However, the hallway there is boiling hot, and you are packed in with hundreds of other tourists. Know you might be thinking: who cares about the way there? It’s the Sistine Chapel! Painted by Michelangelo himself! Hear me out. You don’t get to choose the direction that you go. You just have to follow the masses which is a fire hazard. I know this sounds whiny but still, it’s impossible to enjoy the beautiful art when you’re sweating profusely. Once you reach the chapel, you are overwhelmed by the amount of people in there with you. It is physically impossible to move an inch without crashing into someone. As you look to the ceiling you realize how long the journey was just to get here, and you feel awful for not being able to appreciate the great art. I hope that generally the chapel isn’t usually like this, and that we just went on a busy day. Otherwise I would recommend preparing for a long day.
It’s a good thing that we decided to go to the saint peters basilica. Because we saw the church we were able to leave the Vatican with lifted spirits. St. Peter’s basilica is as big as it is beautiful with many different sections, statues, paintings, seats and more. Having Gunter with us made it easy to navigate the church and comprehend what we were seeing.
We then took a train to Venice with Anna and her parents. When we got there, we were greeted by a nice man who took us to the place we would all be sharing. It was more than enough space, and we quickly got settled. Venice has no cars because of the narrow streets, which made it easy to walk around and enjoy the air. After walking around, we came to a square where we found a massive tower beside a small yet gorgeous church. We decided that we would do both another day. Venice was great for running. After learning that my mom and I could do a half-marathon and not just a 10 k, we needed more training. Venice gave us the space we needed to do that. Our time in Venice was all about winding down. Obviously we saw the worthwhile sights, but we didn’t go full tourist. We saw many of the famous gondoliers on their gondolas, but it was ridiculously expensive and we decided against it. We took water taxis when we had to get to far away places.
Venice is known for its blown glass so the eight of us went on a hunt to not only find some, but also to see how it was made. After lots of walking, we found a place that was showing a demonstration. It didn’t look complicated, but I could tell that it was difficult. One wrong move and you burn your hand off. We saw some gorgeous glass pieces. Those weren’t hard to find; they were in every shop. We did the church, which was full of gold paint and marble statues. Because we had Gunter with us, we did a lot of churches. This one was definitely the most…. gold. After seeing so many churches, this one was beautiful, but not number one. Though if you are ever lucky enough to find yourself in Venice, I still recommend it. The tower offered stunning views of our area. We took an elevator to the top and stairs to the bottom. We could see everything up there, with no clouds obstructing our view. We also visited an old palace. With the help of an audio tour, we navigated through multiple rooms and learned their history. From statues to jail cells to court rooms, this place is a sight worth seeing. After a sad goodbye at five am, we left Anna and her family to the airport by water taxis. We were to arrive in Spain the next day. New country, new adventures.