Pope Francis & the Vatican!!!!

March 4, 2017

On Sunday, I booked a later flight to leave Rome so that I could stay and see the Pope. On Sundays when he is in town, he does this blessing called the Angelus, where he speaks for about 15 minutes from a very distant window above St. Peter's Square. I know for "Audiences" with the Pope people start lining up very early in the morning to get a good spot, and I had heard the Angelus wouldn't be that bad because he is so far away you can see him wherever you stand. I still got there pretty early and I just want to a mass in St. Peter's Basilica then hung out outside in St. Peter's Square. Being there as early as I was I was able to pick the closest possible place to stand where I could still see him and he was still so far away. I honestly think Pope Francis is incredible though, he is so holy and honestly just the most adorable man and he is doing good things for the Catholic church. So no matter how far away I was, or how long I waited (like 2 hours just before other people showed up to wait) it was completely worth it to see him in person and hear him speak. Technically I didn't understand much of what he said because he spoke in Italian and Latin but I kind of got the sentiment. 

Zoomed in as far as my camera could zoom. 
This is a screen shot zoomed in of my zoomed in camera shot.

Pompeii (& Naples)

March 3, 2017

Originally we had planned to spend half of our fourth (and last full day) in the ruins of Ostia Antica near the city, and the rest of the day in Rome but while we were in Rome we changed our plans and booked a guided trip to Pompeii and Naples. This was a little more expensive but completely worth it. We had to get up early and meet our tour guide in the Piazza del Popolo. From there we were split into small groups and we took a bus to the ancient ruins of Pompeii. Along the way our tour guides gave us useful information about the tour and tips for our stay in rome as well as fun facts about the places we were passing through. We had a local guide in Pompeii and it was really interesting to see and learn about. I was amazed at how well-preserved some of the buildings were, especially some of the pain that is 2000 years old and still visible on the walls! Most of the streets were still intact which made it so easy to picture normal people just living normal lives in the city back then. It was a fairly cloudy day but the rain held off enough that we still were able to catch a glimpse of Mt. Vesuvius. After our tour of the city we went to a little pizza place where you could watch your pizza being made. Pizza was included in the price of the tour which was really nice. After lunch we headed to Naples and unfortunately with such a quick trip we weren't able to really explore but we all went to the National Archeological Museum of Pompeii. There were a ton of cool pieces that were found in Pompeii and there was also an exhibit on ancient Egypt which was interesting too. After that we headed back to the city and arrived with just the right amount of time to grab some dinner before going back to the Air B&B to pack. 

Theatre of Pompeii (especially cool to see after learning about it in class last semester). 

The stepping stones in the middle of the street were because the streets flooded when it rained. 

Incredible how well preserved this house was. 

The details still visible are just incredible. 
This was a dining room that they built on top of even older ruins. 

Shoutout to the Romans for the ovens that give us Pizza as we know it today. 

This was actually a gym and bath. 

A perfectly preserved person. 
The ancient Romans had very advanced systems of water. 
All of the floors inside houses used to be covered in these tile mosaics. 

You can see Mt. Vesuvius in the background. 

Pizza was born in Naples, and this was definitely one of the best pizzas I've ever tasted. 
The Chef was super friendly when we went back to take pictures and watch him cook. 

Some interesting stuff from the museum in Naples.

This was just so small and detailed.

I needed to post just one more picture of Italian food!

Rome Part 2:The Ancient Ruins (& more exploring!)

March 2, 2017

On our third day in Rome we went on a guided tour of the Colosseum and the ancient Roman ruins. This was another tour we booked with "City Tours" and we all really enjoyed it! Personally I liked the Vatican tour a little better but I still loved learning about the ancient Romans and their traditions and the history of everything we were seeing. We toured the Colosseum, Palatine Hill, and the Roman Forum. The Colosseum was cool but my favorite was probably the Roman Forum because it was an area where people gathered and theres the remains of a lot of buildings so its super easy to imagine people actually working and spending time there in Ancient Rome. After our tour we went to the Altare della Patria which is this giant white building that kinda sticks out and it is the World War I memorial. It houses the tomb of the Unknown Soldier and has great views from the top. We didn't pay to go all the way to the top because we had limited time and we had already had great views of the city from St. Peter's Basilica. Even if you don't go all the way to the top you can walk to a really tall lookout area and see a ton. Afterwords we went to a Latin Mass in St. Peter's Basilica which was incredible. After mass we all went to get Gelato then took our time walking to dinner. We went to dinner at this super cute place called Trattoria der Pallaro. One of the guys in our group's parents had been a few years before and it is a little restaurant where you pay a flat rate of $25 per person and you get a five course meal of whatever the chef was cooking that night. The chef was this adorable little old Italian woman and she was so sweet! It was definitely the coolest meal I've had since being in Europe! 

The Colosseum from the outside.

They made these arches for people when they had successful battles. 

There are random piles of ruins all over. 
Part of the palace on Palatine Hill.

They recently restored all this tile. 

Altare della Patria

St. Peter's Basilica at night. 

With the chef at Trattoria der Pallaro
First Course
Second Course
Third Course (Pasta)
Fourth Course (Meat)  
Fifth Course (Dessert!)