This past summer, I had the opportunity to study abroad in Florence, Italy. If you have talked to me for more than five minutes since I’ve been back, you have probably noticed how I can’t stop talking about it. Well, now you get to read about it too. Lucky you!
Over the course of my four-week stay, we went to cities outside of Florence on the weekends. I visited Venice, Cinque Terre, Pisa, San Gimignano, Sienna and of course, Rome. A typical weekend trip would look something like this for us: wake up as early as humanly possible (sometimes 5 a.m.), catch a train or bus to wherever we were heading, spend the entire day in that city, then catch the latest bus or train back to Florence and quite literally crawl into bed.
Rome was different, though. It was our last weekend trip before we had to go home and we were soaking it all in. It was just my roommate, Kristin, and I who went so we had the flexibility of leaving when we wanted and choosing how we got there. We also decided to book an Airbnb and stay the night since we hadn’t done that in any other city yet. I was craving a change of pace and don’t get me wrong, we had a great apartment in Florence, but I still don’t think my back has recovered from the brick they called a mattress. Needless to say, I was very excited for a hotel bed.
We woke up early on Saturday to walk to the train station that just happened to be super close to our apartment. We bought the tickets there and opted to pay a little extra in order to get there sooner. Kristin and I were a bit nervous about finding the right train platform and by some small miracle, we got on the right one with no problems.
I could probably write the rest of this article about how much we loved the train, but I’ll spare you. Once we got to Rome, we decided to go straight to the Colosseum. Kristin had booked us tickets ahead of time so we could go inside and walk around. I put the Colosseum in Google maps and we started walking the 20 minutes it took to get there.
Rome was not what I was expecting to say the least. The city definitely has a different vibe than Florence and the other cities we visited. It still clearly held a lot of character, but it was also more adapted for cars and felt like the typical cities I was used to.
We arrived at the Colosseum and were immediately approached by half a dozen locals trying to sell us trinkets and overpriced water but we were pretty much used to that from staying in the center of Florence for three weeks. Looking past that, I can see why it is one of the Seven Wonders of the World. I’m really glad we decided to go inside because it provided a new perspective and was something we had been seeing pictures of all summer.
It is amazing learning about all of these places in class and the history behind them, then being able to go out and see them in person the next day. We walked around the Colosseum for a while and then decided to walk and check into the Airbnb.
Our Airbnb was in a hotel and all of the employees were so nice. We took all the extra safety precautions, then kicked off our shoes and cranked up the AC. Seriously, I’m embarrassed to admit that having air conditioning for the first time in three weeks was one of the highlights of this trip. That and the big, comfy bed.
We took a much needed break to relax and rest our feet before walking the five minutes to the Trevi Fountain. We ate lunch, got gelato and took probably over 500 pictures for Instagram in front of the fountain. Lizzy Maguire would be proud.
Kristin had also booked us tickets to the Vatican Museum to see the Sistine Chapel later in the day. Little did we know it was nowhere near where we were staying or that the Sistine Chapel was even in the museum. We debated for a while whether or not we should go since it was so far and we were exhausted. Ultimately, the “when are we ever going to be here again” argument won. We did decide we would take a taxi, though.
We got to the museum and were presumably very confused because it looked nothing like the chapel we came here to see but what did we know? The answer is nothing; we knew absolutely nothing. Going through security was a breeze and even scanning our tickets wasn’t difficult since we had bought them ahead of time. At this point, we were kind of just following the crowd. Until their wasn’t a crowd anymore and we had to ask a kind-looking security man how to get to the chapel.
In my defense, there was a language barrier but I am pretty sure the lack of common sense is what got us lost. We walked around aimlessly for a while, not even seeing anything that resembled a museum until we realized that we had to walk through most of the museum to get to the chapel. Okay, easy enough.
Kristin and I walked through all of the rooms, taking pictures of what we thought looked cool and having no regard for what was actually considered “important.” Finally, we made it to the chapel. You have to have your shoulders and knees covered (which we knew from the countless other churches we had been in previously) and you couldn’t take any pictures.
No pictures?! We came all this way, specifically for the chapel, and you can’t take any pictures? I would very much like to ask Michelangelo personally how he feels about this rule. But, since I respect history and I wasn’t in the mood to go to Italian prison any time soon, you are just going to have to take my word for it that it was incredible. Earlier that week in class, we learned about how he had painted the chapel by himself for four years. Based on the amount of detail and the size of the ceiling alone, I would say it was nothing short of impressive.
After the chapel, we walked through the rest of the museum and then took a taxi back to our Airbnb. It was early evening by the time we got back so we rested for a couple of hours before heading back to the fountain once it was dark out.
Treating ourselves to some tiramisu on the way, we sat in front of the fountain away from the crowds and for a lack of a better term, just vibed. It was the best.
The next morning, we took the train back to Florence and prepared for our last week. Rome is definitely at the top of my list of favorite cities we visited! To see more highlights from the trip, check out my story highlight on Instagram.