Wednesday: I know i've said this before, but Wednesday's are my favorite day of the week simply because I am able to sleep in AND we always set aside this day to explore a new piece of Florence. This week, we took on the Baptistry, Duomo, and Bell Tower. We begin in the Baptistry and saw the tomb of Anti-Pope John XXII who ironically was a rapist and an extremely corrupt pope. The commissioner of the Baptistry agreed to have him buried there as long as he received the finger of John the Baptist, the Patron Saint of Florence. Odd trade off. Next, we decided to climb the 463 steep, dark, frightening steps of the Duomo and another 414 steps to the top of the Bell Tower. Anyone who knows me, knows that i'm not the most stable person in the world, so this task was quite the feat. Thankfully, I made it to the top without a scratch and the view was STUNNING. Our timing was impeccable as we reached the top of the Bell Tower just as the sun was setting on a gorgeous day. The faint sounds of a saxophone in the distance combined with the warmth of the sun on my face and the golden hues from the sunset made for the perfect ending to our day. I was once again reminded how grateful I am to be living in Florence for the semester.
Every weekend has been extremely diverse but equally amazing since arriving in Florence. A quick stop in Rome this weekend was no different. Friday morning was tough because I was expected to be at the meeting spot at 7:20am. Nevertheless, I made it with time to spare. Four long, boring hours later, we finally arrived at Hotel Medici. The Lizzie McGuire Fan Girl inside me was freaking out throughout the entire weekend. Upon arriving in Rome, the shear size of the city was evident; the buildings are more modern, the streets wider, and there are more trees/green space. The original forecast said it was supposed to rain the entire weekend, but we definitely lucked out-- 65 degrees and sunny. Taking advantage of the weather, we sat outside for a quick lunch and then boarded the bus again and headed to Vatican City! The entire weekend I kept thinking about how much my family would love this trip.. fingers crossed I can come back again with them at the end of my program! The tour of The Vatican, Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter's Basilica were absolutely stunning. We weren't allowed to take any pictures inside the Sistine Chapel, but take my word when I say it was breathtaking. The main thing I learned on our tour was that Michelangelo was quiet the comic. He was practically forced to paint the ceiling and one wall inside the Sistine Chapel and to show his distain, he made a self portrait of himself looking like a skeleton. Ha. Unfortunately, Pope Francis was no where to be found (cue the tears). Yet another reason to come back to Rome with the fam!! For dinner we headed to a nearby restaurant provided by CET. The waiters were dressed as the cast of Peter Pan while handing out carnival decorations and blasting American pop music making the whole ordeal a bit overwhelming. However, the food was scrumptious. A platter of meat and cheeses, bruschetta, pizza, and carnival biscuits all made the menu. Malto bene.
The rest of the day was filled with walking around the beautiful city of Rome and successfully finding the rest of the hot spots: Trevi Fountain, Pantheon, and The Spanish Steps. I tossed my coin in the Trevi, ensuring my return to Rome in the future, and felt extremely content. In totally, about 3,000 euros are thrown into the Trevi each day which are then collected and donated to a local charity in Rome. Today was filled with great company, amazing sites, and unforgettable memories. Although it was short a visit, Rome was everything I could have asked for... and more!