Not Your Average Tour of Rome

I didn’t mean to leave you hangin’ for so long!

There were a lot of things to catch up on coming back from our mid-semester break last week, so blogging fell to the bottom of my to-do list every day. But I can’t leave Rome out of the story! (see here for Zurich, Padua, and Assisi)

We arrived on Thursday night, and this was my unnecessarily expensive (though admittedly tasty and satisfying) train station dinner

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On Friday morning, we were awaken in our Airbnb by our alarm clocks…and Top 40 playing on the radio. Our flatmates for the weekend were up at 5:45 am with us and already blasting music. Is that normal in Italy? Please inform me.

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quite an extravagant light fixture in our Airbnb

After munching on some breakfast biscuits and getting dressed, Megan, Ceara and I walked approximately 20 minutes to St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City before the sun even peeped over the horizon.

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We were meeting my uncle, who also happens to be a priest in Rome, for Mass in the papal crypts of St. Peter’s Basilica. !!!!!! He kindly invited my friends and I since I told him that I’d be in Rome, and guys…It was an incredible experience. First of all, it was like Catholic Hogwarts with all the priests in their vestments saying Mass at all the different altars, with the little altar boys following with the chalices.

Secondly, the basilica is the most spectacular building I’ve ever seen.

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The original “Pietà” by Michelangelo!

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We descended into the papal crypts for Mass at the Our Lady of Guadalupe chapel at 7:15am.

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At the beginning of Mass, my uncle said, “St. Peter’s tomb is right next to us on the other side of this wall.”

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I’M SORRY, WHO!? PETER, THE ROCK OF THE CHURCH?

Unreal.

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I’m so awkward, help.

After Mass, Fruncle Alex took us to the hip cafe where all the priests and seminarians hang out for coffee and wifi, so naturally we saw seven men with Roman collars inside upon entering. Fruncle Alex and his friend, Brother Luis, treated us to scrumptious cornetti (a variety of croissants) for breakfast.

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I learned quickly to love the cornetti-for-breakfast lifestyle of Italy ♥︎

We are so blessed and seriously lucky to have had such a cool opportunity before 8am. Thank you so dearly, Fruncle (Fr. + Uncle) Alex!

After saying goodbye to him and Brother Luis, Megan, Ceara and I took the Metro into the heart of Rome. First stop was the iconic Trevi Fountain!

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All I can think of is Lizzie McGuire, to be honest. ALSO, Madre made this cute collage of me at the Trevi in 2003 vs. now. I guess this means the legend of the fountain works! I’ll have to go back to Rome again then…bummer 😉

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I had a better sense of fashion back then.

After we did our touristy thing there, we met up with my friend Denis from Boston University, who is a seminarian studying in Rome! If you think that 25% of my friends are males who are priests/studying to be priests, you’re not entirely wrong.

Denis was also extremely kind in taking us three helpless American lassies on a full day’s tour of Rome, which undoubtedly saved us a lot of headache, hours of getting lost, and tourist traps. More so, it was such a treat to catch up with Denis and hang out with him!

We met him at his college a little past 11 and then walked toward the Spanish Steps, stopping by a cafe for some paninis for lunch.

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I got this uber cheesy sundried tomato and arugula panini. Our plan was to eat on the Spanish Steps, but two bites into my panini, a lady kicked us off the steps saying, “No food on the steps. OUT.”

*Walk of shame*

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That didn’t put a damper on our lunch al fresco in the beautiful city of Rome on such a fine day though.

Then we meandered our way through the city, popping into some basilicas occasionally. Denis was such a wealth of information about all things Rome, which made the day 10x more interesting than we could have ever expected.

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only in Rome will you find a priest goods store

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Denis took us to his favorite gelato place, Frigidarium, and I realized the hype. Not only is it high quality gelato, but it is DIRT CHEAP. €2 for a decently-sized small cup with two flavors. We went there on Friday AND Saturday.

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For round one, I got a black cherry flavor + pistachio. The pistachio was some of the best I’ve ever tasted.

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We kept walking and passed through some of the big landmarks like the Pantheon…

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…St. Peter’s again (but with more time for all of Denis’ fun facts about it!)…

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Swiss guards (who legit have to be Swiss) guarding the area where the Pope resides

…St. Angelo’s Castle…

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…the Roman Forum…

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…and this thing.

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Classic Colosseum pics.

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Plus, like, five more churches, which were all awesome.

While all the historical, quintessentially Roman landmarks were super cool, one of the highlights was actually Denis’ seminary, which he showed us at the end. The building itself was beautiful, and not gonna lie, their movie room was pretty sick. Their courtyard even has orange trees!

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The BEST part was going all the way to the top of the seminary for the most stunning view of all of Rome.

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Check. this. out.

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We were blessed all weekend with warm weather and blue skies. I cry.

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I mean, can we get sisters a convent as amazing as this??

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And so the sun set on the most perfect day in Rome.

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But that just means it’s time for food. Denis chose his favorite restaurant called Ristorante Abruzzi, which did not disappoint. He told us he wanted us to experience a “real Italian dinner”, so we went all out with a bottle of red, antipasti, primi piatti, dessert, and digestivi (after dinner drinks). I even [kind of] liked the red wine, despite saying I hate it a couple weeks ago.

For my antipasto, I got the salad with a bunch of yummy stuff on it (read: artichokes).

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For my main, I ordered the tonnarelli di cacio e pepe, which is basically thicker spaghetti in a cheese and pepper sauce. I had wanted to try a cacio e pepe pasta dish somewhere for as long as I could remember, so that night was the night.

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Mmmm. Honestly, I liked everyone else’s pasta dishes more than mine, but the cacio e pepe was still great.

I went with a new and interesting dessert to me called “Montebianco”, which our waiter explained was a vanilla cake with hazelnut paste. I would now describe it as a cream pie/cake with icing and hazelnut paste on it. It was weird but tasty!

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Speaking of our waiter, his name was Carlo, and he was hilarious. He kept teasing Megan and Ceara in a grandfatherly way. He also made our after dinner drinks on the house! I had never had digestivi, as they’re called, but I tried the green sambuca and limoncello that night.

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no, we didn’t drink all of this

The limoncello was kinda nice, but I took too big a swig of the sambuca, which made my face feel like it was burning. It also tasted pretty gross. Never again.

Ahhhhh. This dinner was the perfect end to an exceptional day. Not your average tour of Rome, I’d say. I want to thank Denis from the bottom of my heart for taking a day out of his busy life to tour us around the city and share his knowledge with us. We had such a blast!

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hence all the pasta and dessert

“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” – Colossians 3:17

Part two of Rome still to come! (I know, I know, there’s so much, but…THERE’S SO MUCH.)

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