So, I went to Rome, Italy.
...and it was beyond amazing. I have been trying to figure out a way to put this experience into words and that has been a very difficult task for me. Since I am a visual story teller, that Is exactly what I did...I captured my entire trip.
I considered this to be my "first international trip" although my family and I drove to Canada when I was around 11 or 12 and also I took a cruise with my church to Mexico when I was 17. Those trips didn't feel, as if I were really exploring (but I shouldn't disregard them the way I have been).
Getting off of the plane in Turkey was beautiful. I remember what the sky looked like. The sun was just beginning to set and I saw that familiar cotton candy mural that comes about during those hours. That's when the time difference set in for me. It was morning in Los Angeles, but night over here.
During my layover I sat at a café in the airport and was on a hunt for the almighty Wi-Fi. Airport wi-fi sucks by the way. Like, every airport I have ever been in. Thank God for Sprint and their "semi decent" international plan where I can still have low speed data. I was able to text my family and close friends to let them know all was well, then I was off to my official destination. Roma.
Once I arrived in Rome I was immediately captured by the way the houses were set up. The long windows, and balcony's almost reminded me of New Orleans.
The first 4 days in Rome, I was alone. Which is usually VERY ok with me. I love being to myself, there is something beautiful about solitude and the fact that you are free to move around as you please. I have been this way since I was a child. Knowing that I would be meeting up with a few of my friends in a few days, I wanted to take full advantage of getting to know my surroundings. What better way to do that than to, walk.
I woke up the first morning in Rome and went on a search for COFFEE. It wasn't hard to find at all, but what was difficult for me was ordering the coffee. I wasn't sure what to say to order my usual in Italian, which is just a latte. I soon figured that I would be ordering hella cappuccinos throughout my stay in Italy. I had coffee at this super cute Cafe called Gelida Voglia (Rome, Italy). The customer service at this place was just amazing. I am a sucker for great service and the fact that I only ordered one coffee, and sat there for a few hours to read, and was waited on as if I had spent a grip of money really made my heart smile. Since they are not driven by being "tipped" they go above and beyond. Although they usually aren't expecting a tip, I think it is appreciated when you insist on leaving one anyway.
I tried to take full advantage of my alone time before things got hectic, so every quiet moment I could I find I was pulling out something to read. My boyfriend made a great point the other night when he explained to me that reading while you have free time gives you the ability to give what you are reading your undivided attention. Not only are you less distracted with the business of your everyday life, you also have time to think about what it is you just read.
I didn't even bring my camera out with me on the first day because I just wanted to be. Be present, and existing in this new place. It was so peaceful. Seeing what I usually see through my lens, with my actual eyes and giving that my full and complete attention. That first day was beautiful.
I knew that I wanted to be a tourist and visit the amazing Vatican City.
For those who don't know, Vatican City, is a city-state surrounded by Rome, Italy, it is the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church. It's home to the Pope and has tons of iconic art and architecture. The museums in Vatican city house ancient Roman sculptures such as the famed “Laocoön and His Sons” as well as Renaissance frescoes (a technique of mural painting) in the Raphael Rooms and the Sistine Chapel, famous for Michelangelo’s ceiling (which is what I was most excited to see).
My anxiety kicked in almost INSTANTLY when my Uber driver pulled up to the outside of the city and I noticed the horrendous/scary line that wrapped around for what looked like miles. My boyfriend and his best friend warned me the night before that I should get there early, and told me how crowed it would be but I don't think I understood the magnitude of how many people come to visit this place each year. It didn't make it any better that I was visiting during the Summer. BUT, as soon as I stepped foot out of my Uber, there was a guy (working for a tour group) who sold me immediately when he told me that I would be able to skip the line and be apart of an English speaking group of people with an English speaking tour guide. I was like "sign me UP, thank you!!!" For about €55 I was able to have access to the city and all of it's glory. Let me tell you now. It was worth it, unless you're not interested in any history of the city or you already know much about the city and the churches/museums.
I honestly would have been lost without a guide, she was so informative. She was actually impressed of the few facts that I knew of the city and some of the hidden spots throughout it (I read hella blogs before going). My favorite moment of Vatican was walking through the museums and finally reaching the Sistine Chapel. Where I saw with my own eye's the beautiful work of Michelangelo's work. There was art done by other artist from the 15th century in the chapel but I (along with the majority of people around me) was more interested in seeing the large fresco "The Last Judgement" on the sanctuary wall. That moment for me was so inspirational. I wish that I could gather all of my thoughts to even begin to explain how it felt to see the work of such vigorous labor. Although photos inside of the chapel are "forbidden" I decided to rebel against all rules and take a photo of this amazing work of art.
The Last Judgement
I would recommend anyone going to visit this city to take your time. Don't feel rushed and just embrace all of the beautiful art that there is to offer. Living in Los Angeles I am surrounded by so much contemporary art that I forget about all of the modern art that is out there.
I spent my entire day there.
Four days had gone by of me enjoying Rome alone, then my friends all arrived in Rome to join. The whole reason I was in Italy to begin with was to celebrate my good friend Geneva's birthday. Geneva is one of those spontaneous individuals who just believes in me and my crazy ideas. She's been such an inspiration to me in so many ways and I was honored that she invited me on this trip with her and her other close friends. The moment they arrived (5 of us in total) we headed straight to the Coliseum.
Geneva's Private Birthday Dinner
Being in Rome for 4 days alone already, I had tried so much of the local food/wine there. Literally all I was eating was pasta + pizza + bread. No complaints, but it was so refreshing to have a private chef create us a meal that was beyond amazing and that was NOT tourist food. We enjoyed a delicious 5 course meal that was crafted from local ingredients and...you could tell how fresh everything was compared to all the restaurants I had been eating at prior to this.
The chef, was beyond amazing. Very informative and I would suggest if you have time while in Rome to book him for a private dinner. I mean, it was just so beautiful. You can book him here.
Rome is a place that I will for sure be visiting again (I actually will be back for 1 day in like 2 weeks). I know now that I probably will not visit during the summer time, I would love to visit this city when there are less tourist and the weather is more breezy.