Sunday, April 7, 2013

Easter in Rome

Lauren Miller
blog 3/31/13
Easter in Rome

Happy Easter! Today we woke up early after spending our second night in Salerno. The five other girls and I were all downstairs waiting and once it became 6:05, we started to worry that we had missed the leaving time or there was a change in time. We first called the boys room and they were still sleeping but said they would be down in five minutes. We asked the front desk man what time it was and he informed us that it was in fact 6 am but there was a time change last night so in technicalities, it was still on 5 am. We now understood! Hayley called Rich and Lily's room and asked them if they were coming and also found that they were unaware of the change as well. The rest of us had iPhones that had changed automatically! We waited in the lobby, using as much wireless Internet as we could before we spent the day out and about in Rome! We eventually got on the road at about 6:45. We had a 2 hour 56 minutes drive back to the Rome airport. I rode in the 8-passenger van that Matt was driving along with Ashley, Katie, Carolyn, Hayley, and Chryssie. I sat in the front seat helping Matt navigate the Gps. The ride mostly consisted of a lot of laughing, singing, games that we had made up to pass time.

Mid-drive, we stopped at a rest area called the AutoGrill. There were many of these located along the highway very similar to America; there was a couple restaurants, restrooms, and a gift shop located in them. We ate a quick breakfast because it was still only 8 am, and then headed back to the car to finish our drive. It rained for the majority of the drive.

We arrived at the airport at about 10 am and returned the van. We then walked over to the bus stops and paid 4 euro to take the bus to the train station called "Termini." The weather was now gloomy but it had stopped raining! we walked through the train station which smelled of delicious pastries and had shopping centers lining the walkways. Our hotel, Stargate, was only a five minute walk from the station. There was hardly any people walking on the streets! We then checked into our hotel, all 6 of us girls were sharing one room which consisted of three bunk beds, a small bathroom, and a closet area. The rooms were located on the 4th floor.

After quickly changing into a lighter jacket, we left hurriedly to get to the Vatican to try and catch some of the Pope's Easter mass. It started at noon and it was 12:10 when we left the hotel. We walked back to the train station and took the stairs to the metro. We bought a ticket for 1,50 euro and took the A Line towards Bastille. We rode the metro for 6 stops and when we exited the station, we noticed there were police officers blocking the entrances to go down to the metros. As we turned the corner, we disappointedly noticed that everyone was walking towards us; the mass had just ended 5 minutes earlier! We took a step onto a ledge that overlooked the crowd. There were thousands of people; some dressed to the hilt in their Easter attire, some were wearing only jeans and a T-shirt, and flags of multiple different countries were being held up. Trying to push through the crowd going the opposite way of everyone else was quite the task! One by one, we followed Katie leading the way. When we finally arrived to the front of the Vatican, it was actually in our favor. Although we missed Pope Francis' mass, we were able to get as close as possible to the church. Everyone had cleared out, therefore, walking up to the folding chairs that were placed right in front of where the Pope stands was very easy! I was able to get some very good pictures. The Easter flowers were very bright spring colors: pink, yellow, purple, and blue. While taking a picture with Hayley, the guards came up and started to push everyone out of the area because they were cleaning everything up. I quickly snapped a couple more pictures and then walked away, grabbing Hayley's hand so we did not get separated in the crowd. We met back up with everyone and made a group decision to start walking toward the Trevi Fountain while stopping to get something to eat on the way.

As leaving, we crossed the street and walked by the Castle Sant' Angelo. The line to get was wrapped around the side of the castle so we continued to walk. The street vendors were everywhere today... I was in heaven! Purses, sunglasses, and scarves to name a few examples to be named. Unfortunately, I had no room in my backpack so I had to resist from bartering!

We walked over the Ponte Sant' Angelo bridge and Katie again led us; she loves figuring out where we were going so we always give her the map and say, "take us there!" We arrived at Piazza Navano, one of the most popular plazas in Rome. Once again, the streets were packed and we all made sure to hold on tight to our satchels in fear of pick pocketers. in the center, next to the multiple fountains that were in the plaza, there were impersonators and vendors selling Rome souvenirs and paintings. The sides of the plaza were filled with restaurants where workers would come chasing you yelling deals, trying to get you to come eat. Most people that we passed were eating gelato, as the weather had warmed up very quickly and the sun was shining.

Right before we stopped at a restaurant, we went into the Pantheon. We learned about the Pantheon in Ioanna's class; it was built to look like the Parthenon in Athens but during the Roman times. After that, we stopped at a pizza and pasta restaurant called Dakota Pizzeria. I ordered a spicy penne pasta that was very delicious. The restaurant was crowded and the waiters frantically ran around from table to table.

After leaving the restaurant, we again ran into street vendors where we admired the purses and bargained with the men for fun. We walked for about 5 minutes and then finally arrived at the Trevi Fountain - one of my favorite places in Rome! It was so crowded we had trouble getting down the steps but finally made our way down for a photo. We all threw in a coin and made a wish. Afterwards, we walked over to a gelateria and I had a chocolate and vanilla cone! I can never get enough gelato!

Once leaving the Trevi, we followed Katie's  lead toward the Colosseum. On the way, we were able to see the Forum. Matt, our graduate assistant, was a Roman Archeology major so he filled us in on minor details of the history. When we arrived at the Colosseum, we took our pictures and and then continued to walk because it was getting late and felt as if it were going to begin raining again. We walked by the state building and then got on the U175 bus toward the Termini. After we got off, Matt walked back to the hotel while the girls walked back down the streets to a corner that was filled with white tents. In the tents, there were clothes, sunglasses, candy, purses, and many other items for sale. We all bartered on small things that we wanted to take home as souvenirs. Because we were meeting for dinner at 7, we headed back to the hotel to clean ourselves up a little but after such a long day.

We headed to dinner by taking the metro again to the same stop as earlier. Instead of turning towards the Vatican, we turned the opposite way towards the Spanish Steps. we found a restaurant down next to the steps and I had lasagna and a salad for dinner. We all talked about what we had seen in the day and wished that we could have had more time in such a beautiful city. After dinner, we walked for about 10 minutes and arrived at the Trevi Fountain again.  It is most beautiful to see at night! We took more pictures and then went down a side road that was filled with souvenir shops. It took us about a half hour to walk back to the hotel but it was such a nice night that we couldn't resist! After being up for so long, I was so happy to finally be able to crawl into bed when that time finally came about! Another early morning tomorrow as we head to Poland!

Although this was my second time in Rome, I found so many more things that I came to love about the city.  To say that I spent Easter in Rome is definitely one of my most beloved memories and I know many people envy my classmates and I for getting this opportunity! 

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