8/26/2012

Little Miracles


Have you ever just wanted to scream (or have screamed), “Why does life have to be so hard?!”

I know I have – and although I’ve faced some ups and downs, heartaches and tragedies – my life is pretty plush. I’m not starving, for one. I have a home with my family, where I sleep in a big comfy bed every night that I am absolutely obsessed with. And not to mention all of the other blessings in life of which I undeservingly possess. Overall,  I know that compared to a million billion other people living in this world, my life is set – I’ve got it made – and I better be grateful and never complain. But alas…there are still those days where I want to complain. And be mad. Scream at the top of my lungs for having been screwed over or treated unfairly, or having too much too do, too much to cry about, think about, etc. etc. blah blah blah.

It’s normal, I know. To get upset. We all have our own story, right? Our own path in life, and when something goes askew, that leaves you thinking weeks, months, years about, wondering why that every happened in the first place…it is our right to be upset. Sometimes those feelings of anguish last much longer than we ever thought possible. Some things cause that much pain – and pain is never to be underestimated. Even when we try to hide it, internalize it, we’ll still always feel that sting in our hearts every time we are reminded of what we lost, what could have been, and what never was.

Not to be depressing, I swear this post has a point. And that point is: what can we do or how can we be reminded of how much we are loved and that our days are not all for not, but rather guided by the skilled hand of God. You could say, we are looking for the “little miracles.” For me, my miracles are often found in the wonderful days where I get to spend time with my nieces and nephews. Recent events have reminded me even more of just how special they are to me, to our family, to the world, that I cherish the time spent with them. There is something so beautiful about watching a child grow up, learn new things, go to school, sing songs, make friends, have revelations (even if only about the most efficient way to set up building blocks or the perfect excuse for not having to share a toy) and become their own individual person, from the moment they are born. When they are my age and we are all gathered together for a family reunion, I get to show them pictures of when they were little and say “Ya, I knew you then.” And plus – my main goal is to be the best aunt ever who spoils them and plays with them and gives them whatever they want, teaches them cool tricks, new words, and silly songs. Oh, and give them chocolate and ice-cream. I have learned that those two things might as well be gold in a child’s eyes (as well as mine).

Other little miracles are often found in the music we listen to. On a down day, try to find inspirational music that can bring your mindset towards more forward thinking. Or you could look through an old photo book and laugh at the old crazy memories you had growing up (and laugh at the clothes you wore) or with your high school friends. Some days, we have to make those miracles for ourselves. I have a picture of St. Francis’ Basilica in Assisi as the background of the laptop. Why you ask? It reminds me of good times, happy times, when all was right with the world as I was in the most beautiful place in the world. Even when I’m upset, just looking at that picture, knowing that it will be there when I open up my desktop brings a smile to my face. Incorporating your own feel good moments into the day will help to bring a silver lining (even if only a small one, I feel you) to your day.

And hey, if all else fails…there’s always coffee! Sweet, sweet caffeinated nectar which always helps to brighten a mood…or at least put a buzz on it.

11/14/2011

Florenzia

To begin this posting, I first want to apologizing for being so late on all of my posts! ahhh! I am really going to try to make more time for the blog…who cares about homework, right? Don’t worry, just kidding…haha! (But not about the trying harder to keep the blog updated part.)

Anywho, Florence was great! I wasn’t really sure what to expect from Florence this weekend. I had never heard much about the city before coming to Europe, unlike Venice, Paris, and Rome. I knew about Michelangelo’s David, and the one of a kind leather that was sold in the city, but besides that, Florence was a big question mark in my mind. The night before we left, we all had a lot of homework to get done so we were up late, and there wasn’t much time to contemplate our upcoming trip. Right before I went to bed I told my roommate that I had no idea what to expect this weekend, and she agreed. However, in the midst of uncertainty, we both rivaled in the unknown. We were free to experience Florence the way we wanted to, and make it all our own.

To get to city, we took a fast train from Rome Termini. Rome Termini is similar to New York’s Grand Central Station…except perhaps bigger. But don’t hold me on that, because I’ve only been to the Grand Central Station once in my lifetime, and I go to Rome Termini everyday. This was my first time being on an actual fast train, because I discovered before hand that the fast train I took home from Assisi was only the medium speed fast train. The train we took this weekend was the fastest train, traveling something like 200 kilometers per hour. When you ride the train, there is an unwritten rule among the passengers to be absolutely quiet. This is because the tickets are so expensive, people want to enjoy a relaxing, peaceful train ride. It was so different from the train we are normally on, the one that takes us to and from Rome termini from our town, Castel Gondolfo. Our town train is always packed, noisy, and cramped. When you sit across from someone, your knees will most likely be touching due to the tight seating. However, on the fast train, we had our own space, with cute little tables in front of us, free wifi, and not to mention an amazing view of the Italian country side zooming past us out the window. It was nice. Different for us, but very nice.

When we first arrived in Florence we went straight to our hotel, which was right near the Duomo (which I’ll talk about in a little bit) and other surrounding attractions. The employees were so kind, and our rooms were fantastic, the weekend was filled with unexpected luxuries, it was so odd! I was so grateful, but it almost felt like too much to be first pampered on the train, and then in the hotel…..almost.  

After getting settled we went to the Accademia Gallery, which houses and preserves between 200 to 500 paintings, plaster cast collections by Lorenzo Bartolini and Luigi Pampaloni. And of course, Michelangelo’s “David.” There was even a sweet Bartolini exhibition going on that featured his most famous works. Wow, I was stunned by his sculptures. I still can’t comprehend how a person can transform a brick of stone, or a slab of marble, into a sculpture so life like and real. It was amazing, and I felt honored to be in the presence of such amazing art. The “David,” probably one of the most famous pieces of art in the world, was breathtaking. For some reason, I didn’t think that the David was very large before I saw it in real life. I always pictured it to be averaged size, but boy was I wrong. The David is HUGE!  And so cool! It is the first thing you see when walking into the main gallery of the Accademia. I think I spent close to a half hour (which I could have spent longer) just admiring the sculpture, walking around it, examining it, and really trying to study the art itself. I had previously studied the “David” in school, so I knew why Michelangelo made his feet, arms, and hands a little less proportionate to the rest of his body. The reasoning being that the real life David in the bible, was only a young boy, becoming a man, but he hadn’t yet completely grown into his post puberty body. Michelangelo wanted him to be represented in a realistic way, so he made him look like a young teenage boy, a little gawky. It was so interesting to see the sculpture in person, and to recall what I had learned in school, and then look for those things when I was in the gallery. Seeing the “David” was definitely a highlight of the trip!

We also visited the Uffizi Gallery, which houses more famous paintings and sculptures, from so many different artists, that I can not personally name them (or probably even recall, lol) all of them. It kind of reminded me of the Luvre, because it was so big, with so much to see and admire, that it could not be completely visited all in one day, and we had to try to see it in two and a half hours. My favorite room was that dedicated to Leonardo Da Vinci, however, all of the art work was so diverse and beautiful. I definitely learned a great deal about art, artists, and history during the tour of this gallery.

The rest of the weekend consisted of shopping in the Leather Market (I soon became addicted, which was very strange for me because people know that I am not a big shopper) but I really enjoyed it. I think it was because there were so many options, the items were unique, and you could barter (although I only succeeded a few times) with the people selling the goods. I think I went to the leather market every single day of the weekend, at least once. It was just too fun. I also went to what people call the “west side market” of Florence, because it reminds them of the West Side Market in Cleveland. It was so cool to go in! The people were so nice, the prices were cheap, and the food was amazing!!! I swear I just ate all weekend, non stop.

Speaking of food, I had the biggest and best meal of my life while in Florence at a restaurant owned by one of our program directors good friends. It consisted of four courses (breads, pastas and rice, meats, and dessert) plus three bottles of complimentary wine. I eagerly forced myself to eat every course, fell asleep that night in a food comatose, and when I woke up the next morning, I still felt full. But it was SO GOOD!!! The next time I am in Florence, I will definitely be going thereJ

On Sunday morning we went to Mass at the Duomo, which is the biggest church in Florence, that has a dome shaped roof (hence “Duomo”) and is the center of the city. If you are ever lost in Florence, look for the Duomo, and you can find your way back. The real name of the Duomo is the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore. In English this means, the Basilica of Saint Mary of the Flower. Everyone calls the Basilica the Duomo though because of its dome shaped roof. We had amazing seats in Mass, we were approximately 10 to 15 feet away from the altar. I am growing to enjoy Mass in Italian more and more. Although at times I get frustrated because I cannot understand the homily, and much of what else is being said, just being in Mass that is said in such a beautiful language, inside a beautiful Basilica, celebrating the beautiful Eucharist, is an experience of a life time everytime. I hope to never take it for granted.

We got back to Campus around 7:15pm on Sunday night, had a nice family dinner, and then ended the weekend exhausted in our beds. It was such an enjoyable time, and I fell in love with Florence. When I see you all in person in approximately one month, I will have even more amazing things to say about it. I miss you all and hope you are well! All of my love!

Ciao Bella! 

11/07/2011

"America is my country... and Paris is my hometown." -Gertrude Stein

Ahhhhh! Paris! So many beautiful things to say, so many amazing experiences to describe, I don't know where to begin. I guess the beginning is as good a place as any. However, before I begin, I would just like to say how unbelievably thankful and blessed I am for having the opportunity to travel to Paris. To experience a city that never in my life thought I would see. I've always had a dream to travel to Europe, and every day that I am here this entire trip becomes more surreal every minute, and I can't believe that this is all happening. But anywho...back to PARIS!

Seven of us began our trip on Friday afternoon by heading to the airport and catching an evening plane ride to the city of love. The plane ride went so fast because we were all so excited to get there. We were all completely awake and ready to experience all that Paris had to offer. I remember looking out the window every five minutes, just so I could be the first one to see the Eiffel Tower. After getting off the plane we ran into a very nice couple who somehow automatically knew we were Americans. They helped us find the bus stop for the bus that would take us into the city, explained to us how the bus tickets worked, and helped us figure out France's subway system which is much more confusing than Rome's. I was so thankful that we found them, or actually they found us, because without them we would have never made it to our hostel that night! The entire time they were with us, I just kept thinking how lucky we were. And how blessed we were that once again, God was watching over us, keeping us safe, and being by our sides the entire time.

When we arrived at our hostel, St. Christopher's Hostel, we were all a little surprised at the living conditions. Let's just say, in so many words....it was kind of gross. None of us had ever stayed in a hostel before, so we didn't know what to expect, which I think was why we were so uncomfortable at first. However, for two nights, on the cheap, and only twenty minutes away from the city, it was a fine place to say, and we were lucky to have found it. One cool thing about the hostel was the location. It was located in the downtown city, which was away from all the main touristy attractions, so we were able to see authentic, genuine, French food shops, stores, and bakeries. At the very least, my first stay at a hostel was definitely an experience.


On Saturday we woke up very early, rushed to get dressed, and then caught the subway to Paris!!! We had one full day to see and experience Paris for all that it was worth. We wanted to soak up everything we could, see both the famous and unique sights, and absorb the French atmosphere into our veins. We got advice to head to the Eiffel Tower early in the morning so we wouldn't be waiting in line all day. That was the best advice of the day, because overall we waited in line for less than one hour once the Tower opened up and line started moving. We decided to go all the way up to the top, I mean, how couldn't I?? It was a once in a lifetime opportunity and I was going to take advantage of it. And plus, we got a discount on our ticket for being students! Booya! At the top of the Eiffel Tower, the view was completely amazing! Seeing all of Paris from the top of France's national landmark, was something I will never forget. I felt so French, so happy, and excited to be where I was. It was amazing!! This might sound gross, but I can't leave it out, it is completely necessary to put on the blog. So...because our hostel's bathroom was incredibly gross, I couldn't force myself to use the restrooms there. By the time I got to the top I had to use the restroom so bad, so I did. Haha! Now I can say, that yes, I have peed at the top of the Eiffel Tower! Sorry, too much?? In my defense, when you are in Europe, and it is free to use a public restroom, you take advantage of it.

After a few hours, many pictures, and a sad farewell, we descended the Eiffel Tower and went onto our next excursion. We decided to follow the Canal all the way through the city, which lead us to Champs Elysees, Palace de Concorde, The Louvre, and Notre Dame:) Palace de Concorde was so beautiful in the fall! It was a sweet park that had fountains and benches to sit, and beautiful landscaping. We went into the Louvre as well, which was in a word: amazing. I can't believe that I was able to see the Mona Lisa, plus numerous other fantastic paintings and sculptures that I will never forget. I really did feel like Mona's eyes were following me! It was crazy. We spent about three hours inside the museum, and by the time we left we were completely exhausted! Never in my life has a museum made me so tired! That is the power of the Louvre.

Next came dinner! Yay! At that point we were starving, so we treated ourselves to a cute sit down restaurant, where I ordered Croque Monsieur (pieces of toast stacked up with ham and cheese in between each piece) and a DELICIOUS crepe!!!! The crepe was filled with nutella (Europe's favorite way to eat chocolate) with a perfectley round ball of vanilla ice cream on top. Yum!! I'll probably be thinking about that crepe for a long time to come...

After dinner we continued walking the canal and ran into Notre Dame Cathedral. Flashbacks of watching the Hunchback of Notre Dame as a kid kept racing through my mind, and I immediately looked for the gargoyles on the top of the church. Inside, it was absolutely beautiful. I loved the simplicity of the walls, the smell of incense, the beautiful marble altar, the large chandeliers, and the simple artwork. Notre Dame was very different from any of the church's here in Rome. I felt at peace in Notre Dame. It could have been because it reminded me of the church I grew up in, St. Peter's, but I think it was also because my eyes and brain weren't racing to see every single thing inside the church. In Rome, everything is so elaborate, you don't want to miss anything. In Notre Dame, I was able to enjoy the Cathedral solely because it was a place of worship, a place of peace, and not for its artwork and decorations.

We ended the night standing in front of the Eiffel Tower, as it was all lite up, flashing and sparking at the top of every hour. I'll never forget that sight. I honestly don't think I ever will. I was so enveloped by its beauty, I couldn't tear my eyes away.

To be honest, I consider our one full day in Paris one of the best days of my life. I still can't believe I went to Paris!!! By the end of the day I felt like I belonged there. It wasn't home, nothing besides being with my family ever will be, but it was comforting, relaxing, and beautiful. It was Paris.

P.S. The internet connection is slow now, so I can't post pictures right now, but I will get them up tomorrow:)!

11/02/2011

Old Appian Way, Sheep!, and an odd Cript...

Tuesday was a very eventful day here in Roma. We took the subway down to the country side of Rome, where all of the famous actors and politicians live, and then we rented bikes so we could ride along the Old Appian Way. The Old Appian Way is the first and oldest road ever constructed to take a traveler into Rome. Thousands of years ago, it was possibly one of the most well known and important roads in the world. It was so important to the Roman people that the wealthy chose to be buried there so travelers could admire their grave. Today, the Old Appian way is used as a place to take holiday walks (November 1st, All Saints Day, is a national holiday here in Rome), picnics, and bike rides. The terrain is very bumpy because the road is still constructed out of its original cobble stone, which at this point looks like big gray rocks placed throughout the dirt. The fact that those stones were there thousands of years ago guiding travelers into Rome, and that they are still here today, is an amazing sight to see. We biked all the way down to a big tower on top of a hill where soldiers would watch people come through the city boundaries. I climbed to the top and the view was amazing! Trees and rolling hills everywhere! Right when we were all about to come down from the hill, we heard sheep. Yes, Sheep! A huge heard of sheep, at least sixty to seventy, along with their Shepard and sheep dogs crossed the Old Appian Way. It was so cool to see! I immediately thought of my nephews who love sheep and animals. It was so interesting to watch, I loved it.


After our bike ride a few of us girls went back into the city. On our way back to the subway after some shopping, we came across a church, and decided to go in. The sign said that it was a crypt, which we had been in before and we were eager to see more, however this was not a normal crypt. In fact, it was very strange and bizarre. It was the church of Cappuccini, a monk. There is a mandatory offering of one euro to get in, which we thought was weird, because in Rome it is unusual to charge money when visiting a church. But we paid our Euro anyway and began our tour. We were absolutely shocked at what we saw. Inside there were skeletons and decaying bodies everywhere. They were positioned to be standing up or to be laying down, and there were also fresh graves in each area where they had remains. The skeletons were of monks in Cappuccini's order that had passed away. But the thing is, the skeletons weren't that old, so that means that this was not so much a crypt, but a burial sight for the monks of that order. Perhaps the strangest part about this experience was the art on the walls. At first I thought there were stones on the walls that were in different shapes and decorations. However, at a closer look, it become obvious that they were not stones, but BONES! Bones everywhere! Every single bone in every part of the body was on the wall in some sort of form, like flowers, ivy, and even chandeliers were made out of bones. It was so creepy. At the end of the tour, after we had seen every crypt, I left feeling concerned. The Catholic faith believes that one must bury the dead. So why was this monk order contradicting Catholic doctrine? Later, after talking to my director of the trip, Danillo, he told me that he discourages people from going there because of that very reason. He gave me the impression that tourists go there for the "awe effect" that the crypt offers. However in Rome, it seems to be  more of a taboo spectacle. I'm glad I went in, not even knowing what it was, because to be honest it was an experience. But I don't think I'll have the courage or want to visit again.

On a lighter and less creepy note, tomorrow we are touring the Jewish Ghetto in Rome, and then on Friday night seven of us our leaving for Paris, France. Very exciting! I hope you all are well! Love and miss you!
-Ciao Bella:)

10/31/2011

Venice...

If you've ever had the feeling of wanting to be pinched twenty four seven because you need something to wake you up from an amazing dream, then you can sort of understand what it is like to be in Venice.

We left for our first weekend trip to the city that is loved by all Italians at 7:30am. Most of us, myself included, slept on the plane. The plane in itself was an experience! The airline we flew with, Easy Jet, doesn't assign seats for its passengers, so what seat you get is kind of a free for all. Unless....you have a strategy. Which, of course, we did. However, everyone else also had the same strategy as well. With Easy Jet, after they check your passport and boarding pass, you crowd onto this bus which takes you to your plane. The key is to position yourself as closely to the bus doors as possible, because once the bus stops and the doors open, everyone makes a mad dash to board the plane and sit in their prime seat. I have to say that we all did very well getting the seats that we wanted:) However, the entire process is a little hilarious.

We arrived in Venice around 10:30 after taking a 45 minute bus ride, and a 50 minute ferry ride to our hotel. Venice is separated into little and big islands.Our hotel was on the island of Lido. It was a beautiful place, with a family atmosphere, social fun at night, the Venetian Sea with in ten minutes walking distance, and only fifteen  minutes away from any main attraction by ferry. It was great! In relation to the United States, I would compare Lido to Hilton Head Island. A much more beautiful, exotic, and interesting Hilton Head, of course. But nevertheless, the two islands shared many things in common, like numerous vacationers for starters, bike rentals, water, and relaxation. I guess you could say the islands are soul mates:)

Day one in Venice after arriving we grabbed a pizza, some Fanta, and headed down to the beach. We ate our pizza and then explored the beach! Being on the beach of Venice was absolutely amazing! I just stood there, looked far in the distance, felt the wind on my face, and tried to immerse myself in the moment. The gray water splashed up onto the sand, ferries passed, people laughed, and I stood there, shocked and amazed at what I was seeing, what I was feeling, and where I was. I can't explain the beauty of the beach and the Sea in words....I just can't.

As the time passed I collected sea shells and we took pictures and did other fun things. After a little bit we left the beach, and caught the ferry to San Marco. Woohoo! When we got off the ferry in San Marco's square, it really hit me that we were in Venice! In San Marco is what everyone pictures when they think of Venice. There are gondola rides, canals everywhere, bridges you walk over, amazing views, shops, and of course the three most famous things of Venice: San Marco's Church (the oldest and most famous church in Venice), the Emperor's Palace,and the clock tower. Much of San Marco's square has Arab influences in the architecture, which provided such an interesting and beautiful twist to much of what we have been seeing in Rome. Danillo took us on a walking tour, where he showed us the best shops, the unique and original Venetian masks to buy ("Stay away from the fakes!" he would tell us.), and the non touristy gondola locations. Everything was fantastic, and once again, I tried to soak it all in.

We did so much on our trip! We rode many ferry rides, which are a good form of transportation but also a great way to see Venice. We had Mass in San Marcos Church on Sunday morning, which was absolutely amazing. I'm still getting used to attending Mass in Italian, and I can't understanding what the priest is saying in the Homily, but thank goodness that the Catholic Church is universal, because even though I cannot understand the actual words being spoken during the Mass, I already know what is being said :) The church was very elaborate and very different, with a gold leafed ceiling.

Now...take a deep breath....on Saturday....we took a gondola ride!!!! Yay!!!!  It was so fun and my favorite part of the trip. Our gondola driver took us around Venice, through the canals, under the bridges. I waved blew kisses to everyone we passed and offered up a million "Ciaos!" The driver showed us where Marco Polo lived and Napoleon. At the end of the ride he helped us out of the boat and I got a picture with him..It was great:)

Well, this is incredibly long, so I will end it here. Best wishes to all those reading...I love and miss you all!
-Ciao Bella!  




10/25/2011

Assisi Pilgrimage

I have never been more amazed in my entire life than when I went to Assisi this past weekend. What do I even say?? There was beauty everywhere, and I felt so blessed to be there. I couldn't believe that for some odd reason God decided to give me, of all people, the chance to see such a holy place, with two other great friends by my side.

We started off the weekend on Thursday afternoon, by catching a train from Rome Termini to Assisi. The ride was about two hours long, but by the time we arrived, I was so proud of us for even getting there! This was Jamie, Angela, and I's first trip in Italy by ourselves....it was also our first free weekend in the country. Every move we made, we analyzed, or scrutinized, because we were so worried about making a mistake and ruining everything! However, we made it to Assisi right on time, because the minute we stepped off the train, we had to run to catch a local bus that would take us up the hills of Assisi to our hotel. At first we thought we missed our bus because a bunch of taxi drivers kept trying to get us in their cars. Needless to say, we weren't feeling this. We freaked out checking the bus schedule, in disbelief that we had missed it. Then...I spotted a nun that was on our train. She seemed to be waiting for the bus as well, so I went up to her and attempted (in the best Italiano that I could muster) whether or not she was waiting for the bus. She said yes, and then I tried to tell her that I think that the last bus had already come. Once she heard this, it didn't take her long to put herself into action, stomp over to the schedule, leading me over with her, and show me that the bus should be coming any second. We got so excited! We didn't miss it! We wouldn't have to pay for a taxi! All of the above! The next thing I knew the bus was pulling around the corner and the three of us (four if you count the nun) were getting on the bus...next stop the hills of Assisi!

Our hotel was beautiful and so so cute. Just like a movie:) We all slept pretty well, had complimentary breakfast at the hotel, and then we set off to explore! Our first stop was San Francesco Cathedral (St. Francis). In a few words: probably the most beautiful thing I have ever seen in my entire life. The elaborate and detailed paintings throughout the church were amazing. There were so many gorgeous works of art everywhere that your eye wanted to look a thousand places at once. The frescoes on the interior walls of the church were mainly of St. Francis' conversion and life after conversion. The upper part of the walls were painted the story of creation. There were little chapels/devotional areas along the walls of different saints and the Virgin Mother Mary. The Virgin Mary had a crown of stars that shown bright (literally, with lights) and actually in almost all churches where there is a statue of the Mother Mary, she is depicted with a crown of stars that glow inside the dimly lit church. We were also lucky enough to see the tomb of St. Francis. I was able to offer a candle up for a devotion at that time, and it was completely beautiful. There were also relics of St. Francis, like his actual cloak, robe, and slippers. So cool!!! Such a wonderful experience...

We were also able to See San Pietro's, San Ruffino (where St. Clare and St. Francis were baptized and visited by Pope John Paul II), San George, San Neouvo, and the Temple di Minerva, and my second favorite of the day: San Chiara (St. Clare).

While all of the church's and cathedrals were amazing, San Chiara's was spectacular. There was something about the church that made me feel so completely comfortable inside. It was so feminine inside and it made me proud to be not only a Christian, but a Woman. The feminine touches were very subtle, but also very lovely. On the outside, the bricks had a pinkish hue, and the marble steps were a salmon/orange color that gave the outside and the inside a very warm feeling. The artwork in the church was not lavish compared to the other churches we had seen that day. It was more modest, very suited to a woman, especially a woman like St. Clare. The arches inside the church weren't as sharp or pointed as in the other churches either. The arches in San Chiara were round and soft...comfortable. In her tomb (yes, I was able to see her tomb!) there was soft music playing and stained glass windows on both sides. Her relics were displayed, even relics of her hair!

When we left San Chiara, I felt so peaceful. I felt as though my place as a woman in this world was purposeful. I could sense God around us...in the peaceful views of Assisi, in the cold breeze that day, in the company I had, and the opportunities around us. I can't speak for anyone else, but I felt very blessed.

Later that night we ate dinner at a small cafe, went to bed, explored a little more, had lunch, and then caught the bus back to the train station. It was time to go home....or back to campus. Leaving was bitter sweet because we hated to leave such a beautiful scene, however we felt so accomplished for completing the trip by ourselves and for seeing everything that we did, we were almost ready to leave.

Well, as my first trip, and my first Pilgrimage, I would say it was a complete success. Sorry this post was so long, I just hated to leave out anything!! I'll keep you update on what is happening this week and our upcoming trip to Venice this weekend! God Bless!
         Ciao Bella!!!
 

10/20/2011

Roman Rain!

Today has definitely been an adventure thus far! We woke up to an intense thunder storm this morning, which supposedly had been going on all last night, but thankfully I slept like a baby and didn't hear any of the storm. After class this morning, we found out that all of the underground subway trains were flooded and backed up with sewer water.....yuck. The underground is already pretty dirty, so seeing it flooded would not have been a pretty sight. Needless to say the subway was closed and we couldn't go on our sight visit to the Basilica of San Clemente. We were all kind of shocked because we are so used to rainy weather never affecting us in Ohio. But at the same time, many were glad that we didn't have to get completely soaked in the rain.

However, a few of us crazy people decided to go out in the rain anyway! Ron Scott, Steve, and I ventured out in the the pouring sheets of Italian rain, and walked up to Castel Gondolfo, the little village near our campus. I have to say, this was one of the best experiences I have ever had in my life! It was so much fun! We took the back way up to the village, mostly by accident, and saw so many amazing streets that were so authentically Italian it was insane. When we arrived in the main square we walked over to a road where we had a fantastic view of Lake Albano. Truly beautiful, really. Before heading back we stopped at a little Cafe and get espresso and a pastry. The espresso was so strong but perfect for warming us up, and the pastry was probably the best thing I have ever had in my life. We felt very Italian in the Cafe.

Someone mistook me for being Italian actually earlier in the day while we were walking up to the village. The woman asked me for directions, and I had to politely tell her that I had no idea how to speak Italiano. I was so proud though that I fit in with the Europeans. Yay!

Well, time to go...I have to go pack for Assisi and Perugia!
Ciao Bella!