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Italy Part One June 26, 2012

Posted by kavya.mk in Travel Log.
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The awaited five-day break that marks the halfway point of our summer is here!  Let’s just say, it was a very interesting experience…

The plan was to leave Thursday early morning, get to Rome, spend a day and half there before another day and a half in Florence, and return the night before we had school again.  That was thrown, no, CHUCKED, out the window even before we’d gotten on (rather, failed to get on) our first train.  Stuff happened, and we missed our 8 am train to Zurich.  We frantically checked train times and if we could get to Zurich on time to catch our next train to Milan and then to Rome, only to find that the only non-reservation trains could only get us to Milan that night.

So, we decided to spend a night in Milan in a last minute, somewhat sketchy hotel.  It would have been a pretty good room, with a bathroom, sink, and shower all in the same place… if the toilet at least had a door and the shower had a curtain.  But I guess for a last minute place, it was good for us.  We split guys and girls to diffuse the awkwardness of the bathroom situation a little bit to not much avail.

The next morning, we got on a 5 am train to Rome, finally.  We had reservations at the Vatican for 1130 am, and by the time we reached Rome, it was 930.  We assumed we could check into our hostel, which was supposedly fairly close to the train station, drop off our stuff, and catch a taxi over the Vatican, which was a little over a mile away from where we were.  Alas, luck was just not with us.  Our hostel didn’t seem to exist, even to the locals.  We ran around for 30 minutes, until we found a teeny tiny sign with the hostel name on it, and ran inside.  The staff was unorganized and startled to see us, since we HAD missed our first night there.  So after 45 minutes of sorting it all out, we were already behind schedule.

We decided to flag down the taxi near the hostel instead of running back to the station.  But every time Jason used his Chicago skills to hail us one, the driver would look at us really weird and just drive away.  It happened once, twice…. six times… all while we were walking towards the general direction.  (We later found out that the workers in Rome were on strike.  Would have been nice to know!) We gave up on the taxi and just walked all the way there in the heat (which I’d missed a lot!).

Tiny baby Vatican City (also a country!) was beautiful and very well kept.  We were an hour and a half late on our ticket to the Vatican, but we were able to get in just fine, thankfully.  We walked around the area and saw the museum as well as the Sistine Chapel!

But by the time we were done, it had already been over 16 hours since any of us had eaten a solid meal.  We dragged our famished selves over to the best pizza parlor in Rome and stuffed our faces with delicious, authentic Italian pizza!  It came to us in a sort of panini form, which I was very surprised to find.  The staff did not speak much English, so we knew it was going to be good.

We then walked over to the Trevi Fountain and the Pantheon.  The area surrounding the fountain was packed with tourists!  (Probably the most tourists per square foot that I’ve ever seen).  We explored the basilica within the Pantheon and marveled at the dome before getting some authentic gelato and heading back to get some rest.

This was not even halfway through our trip, and I’ve managed to write a fairly lengthy post.  See “Italy Part Two” for the rest of our adventure!

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