Wow, another week is gone just like that. These weeks are FLYING by and I am having the time of my life. I keep thinking that it can’t get any better than it is but it does!!! This week was so much fun. We did so many things from attending the Papal Audience, going to the Opera, discovering more foodie finds and climbing the Duomo in Florence over the weekend.
Monday, May 28th 2018: Chinese Restaurant
Today was a pretty relaxed day spent in class and at JFRC. The highlight of today was our dinner at believe it or not a Chinese restaurant, yes I said a Chinese restaurant. One can only eat so much pasta. This place was actually recommended to us by someone at our campus so we decided to try it out. We got edamame, gyoza, orange chicken, fried rice, and so many yummy desserts. The menu was super cheap so we just ordered family style and shared everything. The orange chicken was a bit of a surprise. It definitely was different than what we are used to. As opposed to the fried chicken with the thick orange sauce we got grilled chicken with a very sweet, almost dessert-like orange sauce. Don’t get me wrong, still so yummy, just very different. For dessert we had a bit of a sampler and got fried ice cream, fried nutella, and two different flavors of mochi. SO YUM.
Tuesday, May 29th 2018: Aperitivo & Opera
Today started off with our theology class (my new favorite class I’ve ever taken) heading into town to explore more beautiful churches and religious sites. We visited San Pietro in Montorio, Santa Maria in Trastevere, and St. Cecilia’s in Trastevere. The architecture of these beautiful sites never ceases to amaze me. We do so much walking on these “on-site” days so we even stopped for some cookies in a local bakery that were such a nice treat.
We headed back to campus for lunch and to relax a little bit before heading out later that night. Tonight we had an opportunity to go to an aperitivo and opera so you bet your bottom dollar I took advantage of it. I wasn’t quite sure what either would consist of but it was the best night. So for those who are unaware (because I was), an aperitivo is this pretty fantastic the Italians have over here where you go buy a drink and then you get unlimited appetizers!!! UM can I say GENIUS?! The one we went to, Freni e Frizioni, was mediterranean food and boy was I impressed. I went up for three or four small plates and all I had to do was buy a drink. Wow.
Next up was the Opera. Now this was a little different than I was expecting. I had never been to an Opera before but I was guessing we would be in a big theater with a lot of people. Wrong. It was actually quite a small venue with probably only 30 seats or so in an actual archaeological dig site!!!
After the opera we were on the hunt for gelato and we found possibly our new favorite place. Old Bridge by the Vatican has my heart! Get the cookies black (cookies & cream) and the cherry. OBSESSED. Oh and get the whip cream on top. It’s home made and the bomb.com.
Wednesday, May 30th 2018: Papal Audience
Oh wow oh wow what a day. A completely amazing, jaw dropping, completely surreal day. We left bright and early around 7am for the Papal Audience at 10am at THE Vatican. We got in line around 7:45 and probably were in by 8:15. FYI they will take your HydroFlask if you bring it so just don’t. I got it back but they took it from me because apparently I could have thrown it at Pope Francis LOL. Then the moment actually came. I seriously got goosebumps. Pope Francis rode around in his little Pope mobile before beginning the prayers. They started off by welcoming every single group that was there in every language, including Loyola John Felice Rome Center which was so so so cool. He went around waving and kissing babies. The Swiss Guards would just pull children out of the crowd and hand them to Pope Francis. Like what. If you are ever lucky enough to experience this like I did I would highly recommend not worrying so much about rushing to the front. Pretty much as long as you get close to a barricade he will go right past you and you will have the perfect view of Papa himself. And if you have a kid, get them kissed!!!
After that wonderful morning we decided to stop for a little girls brunch at this super yummy place, Ginger. We went for a more Americanized breakfast of açai bowls and a pancake sampler. No regrets whatsoever. It was so refreshing and I want to go back for sure. We even got salads and sandwiches to go for dinner later on. Great decision.
The busyness of our morning made for a pretty relaxed afternoon. We napped and just did homework/studying because I guess we still have to do class while we’re here
Oh also we had a little candid photoshoot waiting for the bus lolz but for real thankful to have already made such amazing friends on this trip to share all of these experiences with 😉
Thursday, May 31st 2018: Mexican food, secret bakery & The Princess Diaries 2
It can be a little difficult because our campus is a decent distance from the center of the city and we are always go go go so sometimes it’s just nice to relax. Today we ended up checking out this Mexican place which had gotten really good reviews, Pico’s. It was super yummy and the chips and guac were a must. After dinner we stopped for gelato at our fav Old Bridge (this time I got strawberry and coconut) and then went back and had a chill night and watched the Princess Diaries 2 because DUH it’s so good and also Chris. Pine.
Friday, June 1st 2018: Krista’s Birthday & Heading to Florence
Today was our “make-up” class day since we didn’t have class on Wednesday due to the Papal Audience. So this morning I woke up early to pack for Florence before class. The goal was to pack light and boy I succeeded I was so proud. I fit everything in my backpack and a large tote. We went to class as usual and then it was the weekend!!! I was so excited to see Florence and to spend the weekend with all of my friends. We got to the train and everything was going according to plan, so we thought. We were almost to Florence (probably 15 minutes out) when we received a message asking about our AirBNB. WELL, it turns out we booked the AirBNB for next weekend. YIKES. We had no place to stay. I will admit I am so proud of us. We didn’t freak out. I think it was because we knew we were the only ones who could fix it and we didn’t really have much of a choice other than to fix it. So we ended up canceling our reservation for the next weekend, got a FULL refund thanks to our friend Will calling the company, and booked a new hotel all within about half an hour. It was our first mess-up of the trip but also a huge success on our end. After all of that silliness we decided to stop at the Westin (unfortunately not where we were staying lol) for drinks at the rooftop bar. We all treated ourselves to some mojitos before heading over to the new hotel to check in. After check-in we stopped for some shooping and then made our way to the top of the Piazzale Michelangelo to watch the sunset. This may have been my favorite part of the whole weekend. It was such an incredible feeling being at the top admiring the beauty of Florence with so many other people all at the same time. We needed some pre-dinner gelato after the big hike up (we do a LOT of walking in this country sheesh) so we stopped for the YUMMIEST blood orange gelato. It was so good we went back up for a second scoop. Dinner was a little later tonight we didn’t end up eating until almost 10pm but it was so worth the wait. We went got different pastas and boar’s head, the restaurant’s specialty, and a delish almond cake for dessert. A wonderful first night in Florence.
Saturday, June 2nd 2018: Shopping ALL Day & the Magnum Store
Today was an actual dream. Anyone who knows me knows how much I love to shop. We had a super relaxing day walking around, eating good food, and just shopping. Since we were only here for pretty much two full days we wanted to make the most of our time here. So we woke up around 7am, showered, grabbed a croissant from the breakfast bar and were on our way. We went into many of the higher end stores to look around and mostly window shop. I made a small purchase at Gucci, because after all this is where it was founded!! We had a small lunch at Eataly and stopped at Magnum for some custom ice cream bars. They were SO good and not to mention BEAUTIFUL. Check the pic below to see what I put on mine!!! We went out to dinner that night as a full group of 10 and got the most delicious pasta, steak, and dessert samplers. My favorite was the pumpkin pasta, the balsamic steak, and the whole dessert plate if I’m honest. we paired the dessert with a strawberry dessert wine and it was so worth it. Dinners never disappoint.
Sunday, June 3rd 2018: Exploring the Duomo & Michelangelo’s David
Today was our last day and I didn’t want to leave at ALL. We had done so much but this small and quiet city had stolen my heart. Today we were proper tourists. We woke up super early to stand in line to see Michelangelo’s David. This 17 ft statue was insane and so detailed! You could see the veins in his hands. After a brief look at all of the amazing artwork we made our way to the beautiful Duomo where we had bought passes to explore all of the sites like the Baptistry, the Bell Tower, the Cathedral, and the Dome. We climbed SO many stairs, 463 to be exact. TWICE. Once up the bell tower and then once up the Dome. But the views were worth the struggle and sweat. I was so impressed by the architecture and the detail that went into these structures. I loved every minute. After a full morning of site-seeing we sadly had to return back to Rome for another week of classes. I had so much fun here in Florence. The time is going by too quickly.
This week was SO amazing!!! Get ready for next week in PARIS!!!!!! Ciao!!