I am very sad to say that this will be my last post on my study abroad blog. Over the past 4 months I have learned so much, about the world and myself. I’ve been so blessed to have this experience and live my dreams. I am happy that I decided to blog about my journey, and have followers like you supporting me throughout all my adventures…so thank you!
There are many people that I could not have done all of this without, and I just want to give them all a quick shout-out.
- Thanks to my Nana and Papa for always supporting me…even though I know you worried every single day about me! Thanks for being my #1 blog followers too!!
- Thanks to my brother, who always managed to tease me on Skype and make me feel like I was back home.
- Thanks to my best friends, who kept me laughing 3,000 miles away and always cheered me up when I was homesick.
- Thanks to Mark, who bravely watched me venture across the world, to live in Spain for 4 months, with a smile on his face. That’s not an easy task for a boyfriend to do, and I am so grateful for his non-stop support in every new adventure I take on!
- Thanks to my past teachers and professors (some of whom follow my blog), for helping to shape me into the person I am today. I would have never been interested in international relations, Spanish or traveling if it weren’t for some of my favorite teachers/professors who inspired me! (You know who you are.)
Finally…there are two very important people I owe it all to.
Mom & Dad. You guys never cease to amaze me. I am inspired and motivated by you every single day of my life. I could have never accomplished all that I managed over the years without your love and support. I wasn’t afraid to adventure out into this world because of you both, so thank you.
This ones for you...
THANK YOU MOM & DAD FOR GIVING ME THE WORLD. XOXO
Now that I’ve had time to readjust and organize my pictures, I’ve decided to share with you some silly ones I’ve taken in some really cool places! For those of you who are not familiar with the term “selfie”, it’s basically a picture you take of yourself! Now that we have things clarified, I hope you enjoy my edition of “Selfies All Over the World”!
Trevi Fountain Selfie
Vatican Museum Selfie
Top of St. Peter’s Basilica Selfie
Tower Bridge Selfie
Big Ben Selfie.
London Eye Selfie
Eiffel Tower Selfie #1
The Louvre Selfie
Venus de Milo Selfie
Mona Lisa Selfie
Arc de Triomphe Selfie
Eiffel Tower Selfie #2
Sunset at the “End of the World” Selfie
Torre de Oro Selfie
Plaza de España Selfie
So I wanted to share some of the things I have learned through my own travels, with you! Since Rome was my first big trip, I will begin there! At the end of each of these “travel tip” posts, I will rate each trip on various things!! (Based on my opinions and personal experience!)
So here are some tips for when you’re in ROMA…
- You can buy bus/metro tickets at metro stations or at green newspaper stands located throughout the city
- It costs 1.50 Euro for one Metro/Bus ride
- I recommend investing in a Day pass or a 3-Day pass (depending on the amount of time you are staying in Rome) because it saves you a lot of money! A day pass is 6 Euro and gives you unlimited access to bus/metro for the day! A 3-day ticket is 16.50 Euro and gives you the same unlimited access for three days!
- I preferred the bus system over the metro. The busses seemed to get you to better locations and you were able to see more of the city that way!
- Also, if you are flying Ryan Air and landing at Chiampiano, I recommend taking the Terravision bus into the city. It costs 4 Euros one way and takes you right to Termini Station. From there, you can easily catch a bus or walk to wherever you are staying! (You can also purchase a Terravision bus ticket for you’re return to the airport as well, for 4 Euros). I recommend booking online to get the times you want to arrive and return…just make sure you are able to print your tickets before you leave! http://www.terravision.eu/rome_ciampino/ciampino_price_timetable.html
- The Colosseum & Roman Forum. It costs 12 Euros for one time entrance to the Colosseum and the Roman Forum. The pass lasts two days, so we were able to see the Colosseum one day and the Roman Forum another. Unfortunately, if you are not a member of the European Union, there are no discounts for students! However, going inside the Colosseum and exploring the Roman Forum are something you must do when visiting the eternal city!
- St. Peter’s Basilica. Whether Catholic or not, Vatican City is a sight to be seen. The architecture is incredible and the Basilica is beautiful. Even if the line to enter St. Peter’s seems to stretch on forever…trust me and wait in it! It goes by a lot quicker than you think! Security at the Vatican has it down to a science, and the line moves fast! We were hesitant to wait, but it was certainly worth it! It costs 5 Euros to walk to the top of St. Peter’s and 7 Euros to take the elevator. Depending on how ambitious you are determines which route you take. However, if you are crunched for time, or do not like waiting-you might want to walk! There is only one elevator, so the wait takes a long time! Also, I believe walking the 500 steps is definitely an experience! You feel very accomplished when you get to the top! (But please note, that the elevator does not take you directly to the top. You still have to climb some narrow stairs- if you are claustrophobic it might not be the best idea for you to go!) However, the view is incredible!! It was one of my favorite things in Rome and definitely worth the trek!
- The Trevi Fountain. Visiting this fountain is free if you are just checking it out, however, a wish will cost you some change! It is crucial that you face away from the fountain, with the water towards your back, and toss the coin over your shoulder as you make a wish. I am not sure the story behind it, but I know that people come from all over the world to make wishes in the Trevi Fountain! They say if you toss a coin in, you will return to Rome again one day! (I hope that’s true). The good news about spending money on some wishes, is that the coins are collected out of the Fountain and the money is donated to the Red Cross!! Such a great cause to make a wish for! A tip for visiting the Trevi Fountain is to go earlier in the morning to avoid the crowds! (That will allow you to make your wish in peace and snap a few good pictures!)
- Vatican City. Although I discussed St. Peter’s Basilica already, which is located in Vatican City, I wanted to note something else! If you are in Rome on a Wednesday, you should definitely go to Vatican City in the morning! The Pope does a general audience with the people at 10:00 am on Wednesdays if he is in the City (in nice weather, it is held outside in the square, if not, inside the Basilica). I recommend arriving early for a good spot! He drives around in the Pope mobile before addressing the audience, so you might have the chance to see him up close and wave hello!! It’s a very awesome experience!
- Vatican Museum. Now, if you are not a museum person, this probably isn’t for you. You might be better off exploring the streets of Rome, shopping or visiting more ruins! However, I enjoy museums a great deal and recommend this one! We originally were going to the museum to see the Sistine Chapel, painted by Michelangelo. However, we ended up spending 2 hours seeing all the other statues, art and ruins they had in the museum! It is certainly a huge collection and is worth setting some time aside to see. The full entrance to the museum is 16 Euro, but for a student is 8 Euro, so bring your ID!
- Gelato. That is my #1 recommendation for you. Although you can find gelato in almost all of Europe, the Italians are the masters! They have so many different flavors, that change with the seasons! I only got gelato once while in Italy, and it might be one of my few regrets!! Try a new flavor each day if you can! (Trust me, it’s that good!)
- Pizza. Of course you have to try a pizza when in Italy!!! In all honesty, I ate an entire pizza in one sitting while visiting Rome! However, to my credit, the crust of the pizza is a lot thinner than what we are used to in the States.
- Wine. DUHHH.
- Panini. Had a Panini for lunch and it was delicioso! Perfect mid-afternoon meal!
- Cannoli. Sad to say, I did not get my hands on a cannoli while visiting Rome but I wish I did!! Let me know how it is if you try one!
- Chocolate. Now this may seem strange but grab a bar of Italian made chocolate at a grocery store or little market before you leave! I have been trying chocolate in each country I visit, and the Italians know how to do chocolate! Very rich!!
- Be very careful when crossing the streets in Rome! Unlike many other large European cities, not all crosswalks have a little green/red man directing you when it is safe to cross. Most streets it is a free-for-all, so be cautious! Cars will buzz around you as you attempt to cross the street! By best suggestion is to follow locals as they cross, or cross in large groups! Cars will eventually be forced to stop! Just be aware that Roman drivers can be aggressive and crossing the street is a lot more difficult than you would expect!
- Take Bus 64 to get you to Vatican City! (Use the side entrances to Vatican City rather than the front–you will get in much more quickly, and possibly snag a better spot to see the Pope if it is a Wednesday! Bus 64 takes you right outside Vatican City, and a quick 2 minute walk will bring you to the side entrance!)
Cleanliness: * *
- Rome gets two stars for cleanliness. Although the city is filled with many historical sights to visit, the city itself was dirty and not as impressive as you would think the capital of a country should be.
Safety: * *
- Rome gets two stars for safety. There were police all over the city, carrying large guns, patrolling the streets and stopping many random people. For one day, two helicopters were flying very low and circling the city. Maybe this was simply a rare occurrence, but for the days we were in Rome I did not feel very safe and constantly felt like something was going on that I did not know about.
Transportation: * * * *
- Rome gets four stars for transportation. Mainly I am referring to the bus system, but both the metro and bus were relatively cheap. The day pass is the best investment. The bus system is also very easy to figure out. If you have questions on which bus to take, ask your hostel or hotel and the people should know which one is right for where you want to go!
Food: * * * * *
- Rome gets five stars for food. (Did you expect anything less?? I mean, I am Italian you know!) Everything I ordered and tried was delicious! The Romans pride themselves on being known for their great food, and they do not disappoint! Although some meals can be pricey, it is worth it! (However, you can find cheaper places if you search back roads like we did–food is still amazing, just not at the high cost a restaurant on a main road might charge you!)
Friendliness of People: * * * * *
- Rome gets five stars for friendliness. Romans, or Italians in general, were very, very friendly. It seemed that just the way they talked, with their expressive sounding language and hand motions that they were always excited about everything! They were willing to point you in the right direction or small talk with you in restaurants. I really enjoyed the company of the Italians.
Overall Cost of Visiting the City: * * *
- Rome gets three stars for overall cost. Although transportation and cost of staying in a hostel were relatively cheap, food and entrance to tourist places were not. I think I spent the most money in Rome, not from shopping, but rather from cost of food and tourist attractions. It is doable on a budget however!
Hostel Rating: * * * * *
- Hostel Mosaic (where we stayed in Rome) gets 5 stars. The people at the front desk were always very helpful at directions and answering questions. There was a complimentary breakfast included each morning and the rooms/bathrooms were very clean! I could not have been happier with my stay at Hostel Mosaic, and recommend it to anyone traveling to Rome. It is in a good location and the prices are very reasonable. If I remember correctly we paid 14 Euro a night to stay here, but since Rome has a 2 euro a night tourist-tax, it turned out to be around 16 euros! http://www.hostelmosaic.com/rome/
Days needed to see the City: 4 days
- Although Rome has a lot to offer, you really only need to stay for 4 full days to see all the main sites. We were only there for 3 full days and managed to squeeze everything we wanted to do in, so it is do-able in less! For a more relaxed paced stay, 4-5 days would be perfect!
It is evident that Rome is a very international city, filled with tourists from all over. Of course, that is the case in many country’s capitals! I’ve heard from others that Rome is the least of what Italy has to offer, and if that is the case, then I am very excited to go back one day and visit other cities, such as Florence, Venice, Milan and Tuscany. My trip to Rome however was definitely a holy pilgrimage, in more than just the religious sense. I traveled to the city that I had been learning about in school for years now. My humanities and history classes came alive right before my eyes. For any history nerd like myself, Rome is a must see!
If you have any questions about planning a trip to Rome, feel free to reach out to me! xoxo
Ciao again! I know I’m posting two in a row, but I am attempting to get my Rome posts finished early because I have midterms this week!
After getting barely 5 hours of sleep Tuesday night, Kayla and I woke up early and headed to the Vatican! We learned online before leaving that the Pope does a general audience prayer every Wednesday morning at 10:30am in St. Peter’s Basilica Square. However, it warned us to go early because it gets crowded very quickly! Lucky for us, the people at the hostel were very helpful and we were able to take a bus there! The stop we were dropped off at brought us into a side entrance. We went through security and before we knew it we had a really good spot for the prayer service!!
People as far as the eye can see!! We were right along the barrier!!
They had screens up so you could see the Pope if you were further away! So many people!
Pope Francis, or Papa Francisco! This picture was zoomed in of him coming up the aisle on the Pope-mobile because I took a video when he actually went by us! It’s too difficult for me to upload now, but I will put it in the slideshow I am making when I get back home! He was less than 10 feet away from us!!
At this moment, I was filled with a strange mix of emotions again! As a Catholic, the Pope is the head of the church. I have always seen Vatican city on TV and read about the Pope…and there he was right in front of me!
We listened to the Pope read a passage and then speak about it. Then we heard his message summarized in many different languages…French, English, Polish, German, Spanish, Portuguese and even Arabic. It was an amazing experience to take part in something with people from all over the world. At the end, we all said the Our Father in Latin together. Then the Pope bestowed the Apostolic Blessing on the audience, which extends to our loved ones. (This blessing can only be given by the Pope, it is also called the Papal blessing). It was such an amazing experience. I feel so honored to have made the Holy Pilgrimage to Vatican City to hear the Pope speak.
Our second day in Rome, we returned to Vatican City to visit the Vatican Museum where Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel is. We had no idea there was so much to see in the museum and spent over 2 hours there!
We could not take any pictures inside the Sistine Chapel, but it is one of Michelangelo’s most famous piece of work. We stood inside the chapel in silence for about 15 minutes looking UP. It is amazing to think that one man painted the entire ceiling. The longer I looked at it, the more life like the people in the paintings became. After studying Michelangelo in humanities classes at school, it was incredible to see it in person.
We were so impressed with Vatican City, we returned again on our last day in Rome…this time to visit St. Peter’s Basilica. We decided to purchase tickets that got you to the top of the dome. It was 7 Euros to take the elevator, and 5 Euros to take the stairs…and as cheap college students, the stairs it was!!
It is 551 steps total to get to the top. And let me tell you, the stairways just keep getting tinier and tinier the higher you get!! We didn’t really know what we were getting ourselves into when we first started, but it was worth it! After a while, you reach a door that brings you out into the actual church. You look down on the altar and everyone below! There is a very high fence but here’s a picture to show how high up we were!!
And for those people who know I am afraid of heights…I made it!! And took this picture as proof!!
And here’s the view from the bottom! We were up in the dome area where all the windows are!! After that, we followed the line of people out another door and up some more windy spiral stairs!! (We thought they would never end!)
But 551 stairs later, we could feel a cool breeze and see sunshine! And once we made it outside, at the very top of the dome…this is what we saw…
This was my favorite part of my trip to Italy. It was so beautiful.
A seemingly never ending view of Rome…
Even zoomed in, the people look like ants!
And another picture as proof that I was there!! (Not the best, but hey what do you expect after I just climbed 551 stairs?!)
On our way down we stopped outside on the normal roof of the Basilica, and this is a picture of where we just were, up at the very top by the white pillars.
Just hanging out on the roof top!!
I was amazed at how huge the statues on top of the Basilica were, because from below they don’t look so big!
Now you can see how massive they really are, because of the people standing by the statue!
So now let me show you a view from the bottom again… See those statues on top…they are actually massive! (That’s where I was on the roof) And see that tiny part of the dome at the top…I was up there too! Just trying to put it all into perspective how awesome it was!!
And what goes up, must come down…551 steps down! When we came out of the staircase we were inside the Basilica so we decided to walk around for a little!
The statue of St. Peter! People line up to touch and kiss the foot of the statue asking for St. Peter’s blessing! The statue is over 800 years old, and the feet of the statue are worn down from so many visitors touching it! Of course Kayla and I touched the feet of the statue…so now I have the Pope and St. Peter’s blessing…what a holy week!
And lastly, wandering around the Basilica, we stumbled upon another of Michelangelo’s famous pieces: The Pieta! I wrote a paper on this statue in humanities my freshmen year! Really awesome to see it in person!
To say the least, Rome was an incredible trip. I somehow managed to get around the city all three days with a cold, saw some pretty historic sites, was blessed by the Pope, observed Michelangelo’s masterpieces…and of course tried gelato, pizza & wine!
What can I say besides Rome was good to me!?
Ciao bellas! xoxo
Ciao!! I am back from my three day trip to Italia and have a lot of exciting things to share! Unfortunetaly I got sick right before we left, but that didn’t stop us from spending three days adventuring around the city each day! We flew from Seville to Rome late Tuesday evening, and after a bus, plane and another bus, we finally made it to Termini Station in downtown Rome! With the help of a map, we were able to find Hostel Mosaic, where we were staying! We had three full days in the eternal city, and flew home late Friday evening! It was an amazing trip!
Rome is many different things. It is a city filled with history & beautiful ruins, grand displays of religion, crazy moped drivers, delicious food and antiquity. I have always wanted to travel to Italy, from a very young age, so heading off to Rome was a dream come true for me! I know many members of my family were excited I had the chance to visit Italy!
We spent our three days in Rome, visiting three big things: Vatican City, the Colosseum/Roman Forum, and the Trevi Fountain. All three things, we visited each day we were there! I will do a separate post on our time spent in Vatican City, but for now let me talk about the other two!!
First, the Trevi Fountain…the best place to make a wish! Surprisingly, it was not what I was expecting. Movies and television make it seem different than it really is! It is beautiful and large, but the fountain is actually tucked away between many buildings. I always imagined this fountain being in an open plaza, but from where I am talking this picture, there is a building right behind me! Seems strange when you wind down some streets and stumble upon it!!
Next: The Roman Forum! It is a large area of Roman ruins right near the Colosseum!
It amazes me that the Romans could build such huge and beautiful buildings so long ago! I really like history and this is every history-lover’s dream to see it all in person!
Even though we were tired, we continued to follow the path up to the higher level of the Forum with more ruins. After walking around for a while, we came across this awesome view of the Colosseum! (Worth the hike!)
It’s amazing what you can find when you just wander!
And speaking of the Colosseum…
Now let me begin by saying, there were a couple times that I was awestruck in Rome. I experienced many different emotions at once, while visiting these beautiful sites, and one time in particular happened at the Colosseum. We first stumbled upon this once massive Roman amphitheater the first day in Rome. I was so excited just to see the Colosseum in person, I took about 30 pictures of the same side! The second day, we came back to check it out at night. Also, very beautiful, but my camera did not do it justice! The last day, I finally went inside! Kayla actually went inside the Colosseum the first day we were there, with her friend who was visiting Rome for the day! Friday morning, I went in to check it out while she waited outside for me. Since we had a lot to do in our last day, we arrived at the Colosseum early, right as it was opening. Since I already had my ticket from visiting the Roman Forum the day before, I skipped the lines and was able to enter very quickly. I went straight to the top, to over look the whole Colosseum. It was magnificent. I had the entire place to myself for about 10 minutes before people slowly started filtering in. It was truly breathtaking. I cannot describe the feeling of being alone in this massive, old structure. I will never forget that moment.
Rome is honestly a mix between a chaotic city and old historic ruins! The drivers are absolutely crazy, the people are loud and the streets are dirty. But sometimes, when you least expect it, you can find some peace in this bustling capital city. And that, is the best part.