Sunday, May 15, 2011

A Domani...

...means tomorrow in Italian.

I used to say it to people I met at the store. Or vendors on the street. Just to let them I'll probably be back. Not like they really cared. 
I still have a few stories to tell you about my trip, that need to be typed and written out and go down in history. So where did I leave off? Oh yes....

I fell asleep for a bit on the train. I wasn't feeling too great after a grueling hike and not being properly nourished, so I munched on a bar of chocolate I picked up in Hungary. It was dark chocolate with hazelnuts. I love how hazelnuts are such a big in Europe! I'm so serious- from Nutella, to gelato, to butter, it is everywhere and oh-so-good. I was also exhausted, the night before we went out, walked long during the night then got up the next morning very early, so my body was not liking me at the moment. 
That next morning I woke up at 12, well actually 11 because the time changed. I checked my email and realized that my cousin will be waiting to pick me up from the train station at 12:15. It was 12:08. It takes 20 minutes to leisurely walk there...Uh-oh. I frantically threw all my stuff in my backpack and one big bag, bid ciao to my new buddies and bolted...nothing I wasn't used to. 

That afternoon I had one of the best meals I have ever had. We went to this house in the country that is also a restaurant. It's family-run, everything is made fresh- they have their own farm as well. This is the kind of place that you stumble upon and realize it is the a diamond that you tripped over. The restaurant was literally a house- you walk in to a dining room atmosphere- walk up some stairs in the house, walk into a couple of other small rooms that look like they should be bedrooms and viola! A table for three, with a sweet, older Italian waiter. What could be better? Prociutto, red wine, two varieties of ravioli's- ones stuffed with potato with mushroom sauce and parmesan cheese on top and ones stuffed with castagne with parmesan cheese. They melted in your mouth. They were so good!

That night ended with an amazing lasagna dinner made by my cousin and family visiting. This was officially my last Sunday in Italy; and tomorrow would be my last Monday in trip was slowly winding down.
But before I continue with my story, I'm going to interrupt you to talk about a place my cousin brought me to see in Pavia. It's the Carthusian Monastery of Pavia.

We drove about 30 minutes to get there. It's a big, beautiful monastery first started being built in August of 1396. It has such beautiful architecture and deep marble beauty on the inside....They used to let people take pictures on the inside, but not so much now....but like I encountered at the end of my tour, monks do sell books and postcards with pictures of the inside, along with homemade honey, wine, and balsamic vinegar I believe, all made by them. It's cool they actually have this really old winery on the property.
Heres a couple pictures of it:

There is sooo much history associated with this place, so if you want more information, here's a link to a

Back to my story. That Monday I unpacked everything, repacked everything, and realized the new weight of my backpack and new suitcase was nearing 50 pounds. Lord help me- I'll be carrying those along with a purse and possibly another handbag through 3 train stations to Rome, through the streets of Rome, and to Fuimicino Airport. UGH.
24 hours later, on Tuesday I said my bittersweet goodbyes to my cousins, knowing, but more hoping it wouldn't be another 20 years till I see them again. And off I was. First to Bologna, then to Rome, getting there mid afternoon.
The guy working at hostel (on the 4th floor of an apartment building in Rome, mind you) was a plumb, friendly, Hungarian-Romanian dude. We chatted, he gave me a map and took me to my room. I shared a room with a group from Spain. Students. All studying to be doctors and/or nurses. They were so friendly! I took off on my own to explore Rome and so did they as I randomly ran into them by the Collesium.
And it was really cool I did run into them- they gave me a free tour bus guide ticket in Rome! Haha. An older lady gave it to them at the train station, and since they were a bigger group and didn't want to buy extra, they had nothing to do with it but to give it away- to me. I was happy. And so I head off to catch the bus, but not after sticking my hand in the "Boca di Verita", just to be safe.  I'm a huge fan of Roman Holiday with Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck and I tried to find all the places in certain scenes of the movie and found most of them! Except the place where she got her haircut, now it's a leather store close to the Trevi Fountain. Oh, speaking of that, it was sooo beautiful at night! You must see it at night if you go! And throw yourself a coin (or 3) in the fountain for a good love life....or so they say ;)

I got lost a couple times, but it was okay, because I was in Rome. All alone in Rome. Not gonna lie...a part of me really enjoyed overtaking this city all by myself, I got a thrill from it, and I was happy.
I think it was one of the happiest days of my life. I don't know why, but just being on top of a double decker bus, the sun shining down on me, and realizing that I am living my dream....was just euphoric. You had to be there.
Rome is a fascinating city. It's big, it's romantic, it's historical....It's so weird to think that thousands of years ago historical figures walked the same streets I walked, looked at the same hills, the same stars, the same sun...Ancient Romans were once there.

I got to the hostel fairly early that night, just as my roommates were going out. They were so sweet! We chatted for a while and they were telling me how cheap school was in Spain! Makes me want to finish my degree there. One guy was from the Canary Islands. We spoke about food, politics, and culture. I also chatted and shared some wine while looking at the stars with another guy from....Berlin? or was it Frankfurt, not sure. He was in Rome by himself. If I didn't wake up so early or stayed another day, just another day, we could have all hung out, but when in Rome...I mean, when you need to get up super early...
 I had to be up at 5:00 to catch my train to my was my last night in Rome.