I am so sorry that I haven’t updated in forever. I feel like all I do is apologize :/. So I am going to write, like, three posts. Right now. Last time we spoke, I talked about my trip to Ireland. So now I guess y’all get to hear about the second leg of my solo spring break European journey: Italy.
I’m going to level with you, right here, Cornell blogosphere. When I was a wee child, imagining my studying abroad experience, I placed myself in a beautiful, foreign Mediterranean atmosphere. Italy was my goal. My priorities changed a little bit, obviously, but I was super excited to just be in Rome. So.
I flew into Rome through Paris, which meant that I flew on Air France, which meant I got a super fancy and delicious inflight meal. I’m talking tabouli and custard-y things and some super yummy cookies. I sat in the airport in Paris for a while, surrounded by tourists making their way to EuroDisney (or whatever it’s called now). Yeah America, is basically what I’m saying.
I made it to Rome no problem, and spent two days wandering around the Coliseum and the Pantheon and the ‘three coins in a fountain’ fountain (the fontana di trevi). I went to the Spanish Steps and ate way too much pizza and gelato.
Rome was so different than Edinburgh. Edinburgh is sort of idyllic; it’s green and cloudy and scenic and there’s a big castle in the middle of it. Rome is a huge, bright, bustling metropolis. And the weather! There were palm trees!
I stayed in a hostel by the Coliseum, and there were definitely a lot of other tourists taking advantage of the early season travel deals, but it was crazy being surrounded by a language that wasn’t English (although sometimes it feels like that in Scotland, too). I have a little bit of Italian and a little bit of Spanish, so I could understand what people were saying but had a really hard time recalling vocabulary to respond with myself. In the train station, someone actually mistook me for a real live Italian (and let me tell you, I have never been more flattered in my life) and asked me a question that I understood and knew the answer to, but I couldn’t figure out how to reply. Then I tried to answer in English, and my new friend apologized and went to find a real Roman. It was pretty frustrating.
From Rome, I took a train to Florence. I am sort of enthralled with rail travel; it’s an exotic thing that we don’t have a lot of in the American Midwest. The trip through the Italian countryside was beautiful.
Florence was also gorgeous. Surreptitiously, I unknowingly planned my visit during a national cultural week. So all the museums were free. I saw David. For free. Florence was chock full of tourists. I think heard more English than Italian in the few days that I was there. I found myself wishing that I knew a little bit more about art history, so I could really appreciate what I was seeing. I was amazed at the size and scope of the museums, and in awe of being in what was once the center of the Renaissance. Also I saw Dante’s house. So that was pretty exciting.
Then the stupid volcano in stupid Iceland erupted. Just kidding, kind of. But I did get stuck in Rome for a few days. Which, you know, there are worse places to get stuck, amirite? I used my extra time to tour the Vatican museums and see the Sistine Chapel. I was sort of amazed at the number of people in line at the Vatican; it was definitely one of the most crowded tourist sites that I visited.
There were also nuns everywhere, from all over, which shouldn’t have been surprising, of course, but I really enjoyed seeing women in habits eating gelato and taking tourist-y pictures of themselves.
It was kind of nice to get back to Edinburgh after my trip. I realized that I have come to know this city pretty well. I was so relieved to not be a tourist anymore, and I realized that I’m not a tourist here anymore! I look the right way when I cross the street, I call my sweaters ‘jumpers,’ and I order food to ‘take away.’ I still get lost, though. Medieval streets, man. So maybe I’m still a little green.