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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Virtual Breakfast Date

virtual breakfast date

…I would usually hug you before we sit down, but I’ve been sick these past few days, so we’ll nix that for now.

…I would be eating leftover green banana pancakes via The Healthy Maven that I made yesterday.

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topped with plain Greek yogurt, “My Maine Squeeze” almond butter, and peanut butter + glass o’ almond milk on the side

…I would ask you if you’ve been watching the Olympics. It’s funny; I feel like I become more sedentary as I watch ALL the sports all the time on TV. I’ve been enjoying the gymnastics, tennis, beach volleyball, diving, and swimming the most so far!

…I would take a second to fan over Simone Biles and Oksana Chusovitina, that 41-year-old gymnast from Uzbekistan who is STILL KILLING IT at the Olympics. Literally almost three times older than some of the gymnasts competing.

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I just want to finish everything I do in life with gymnastics arms from now on

…I would tell you that I leave for Ireland to study abroad in less than a month, and I have very few (if any) emotions about it. I tell people that I’m excited, which is half true, because I’m looking forward to the adventures and travel. But I’m also NOT excited, because I know how much I’m going to miss my family at home and friends back in Boston. I’m just gonna go and see what happens, honestly!

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I just need to start thinking about what to pack…and stuff like that.

…I would recommend that you read Kylie’s post about why she hasn’t weighed herself in 2.5 years. Whether you have a history of an eating disorder or not, this is a great read for anyone with body image issues (which is most of us living in an affluent society). Kylie rocks.

…I would tell you that my new veggie obsession is Thai “pun” (wraps, not funny puns). Lettuce + some kind of protein + cucumber + cherry tomatoes + Thai basil + cilantro + mint + spicy peanut sauce. The fresh herbs are ESSENTIAL.

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For this week’s version, Madre grilled up some lemongrass-scallion-black pepper pork patties. For her peanut sauce, she mixes her classic spring roll dipping sauce (similar to this recipe) with peanut butter to taste.

I’ve also had the combo on a big bed of salad greens.

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JUST DO IT.

…I would tell you that I think baking skills are a prerequisite for becoming a physical therapist. All the the treats that the PTs bring in to work are phenomenal. Like these cookies and cream cupcakes for someone’s birthday:

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oreo on the bottom, chocolate cupcake, homemade cookies and cream frosting, mini oreo on top

Other treats this summer have included cake pops, homemade chocolate chip cookies, the moistest (sorry) banana bread ever, and pound cake. #help

…I would perpetuate Asian stereotypes for giggles.

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Italian pasta originated from Asian noodles anyway

…I would tell you that I got to hang out with Daliza twice this weekend! She took me to the movie Cafe Society on Thursday night, which I really enjoyed (check it out in smaller, indie movie theaters!). It stars Steve Carrell, Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, and Blake Lively.

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Then on Saturday I met up with her and our other high school friend Apaula to see our high school chorus teacher at one of his gigs. Fun to catch up with all of them!

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…I would gush over the weather we had last week and hope that it continues into this week.

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…I would tell you that eats at home recently have been on point. It’s been fun eating out these past few several weekends, but I loooooove eating home cooked meals.

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classic overnight oats

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Mom’s comforting meal on Friday night after a long, sick day at work: whole wheat spaghetti with tomato sauce, grilled spicy chicken, and fresh basil

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banana nectarine hot oatmeal with “My Maine Squeeze” almond butter

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classic avocado egg toast with sriracha

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delicious panini a la Madre: whole wheat roll with turkey, swiss, greens, homemade carrot and radish pickles, spicy hummus, and sriracha *drool*

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artichoke hummus that I finally popped open from Stowe, VT with baby carrots

…I would tell you that moves and grooves were low-key this weekend since I was sick. Thursday was yoga, Friday was rest, Saturday was Pilates + one day of the 100s challenge (sort of…I didn’t do all the sit-ups), and Sunday was some walking and random playtime on a playground.

…I would tell you that it’s already been a year since I went to the local Indian festival with Rachel! I went with Ben and Pop yesterday, where we shared some Indian grub and walked around the park.

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 …I would ask you:

Which Olympics sports are you following?

If you studied abroad, how did you feel before going?

What is your favorite way to eat vegetables lately?

Have you seen any good movies recently?

Intimidated

Good evenin’!

Hope you all had an awesome Friday! Mine was pretty productive yet relaxing. I was going to go to the city with some of my best friends, but I ended up being a baby and staying home because I was tired. I’m lame. But as much as I wanted to hang out with them, I think my body appreciated the rest (even if it was only a 45 minute nap).

Lunch

Mom made some fabulous seafood paella in the rice cooker!

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Sriracha added, of course

It was a tasty combo of shrimp and fish balls. As in fish “meat”balls. Not…something else. I’m sure you’re just enticed right about now. They’re good though! Even if it is pretty much the mystery meat of the sea. Ignorance is bliss!

My day consisted of finishing up some summer work, working on college applications, blog reading (duh), and a nice workout!

Moves

20 minutes on the elliptical followed by my favorite leg workout from Julie at Peanut Butter Fingers! This always makes my legs feel like they’re going to fall off, but today it felt slightly easier. I think I can increase the weight for my squats, but I’m facing a small dilemma. See, I use the small barbells from the curl rack to do my squats since I’ve never been brave enough to go to the squat rack (partially because I don’t want to see guys from my school there–walkawaywalkawaywalkaway). However, it’s getting harder for me to clean and press the heavier barbells over my head just for squats, which is why I want to try using the squat rack so I can increase the weight without worrying about getting the weight over my head.

I’m not usually one to care what anyone thinks of me when I go to the gym (ya know, since I look like I’m 12 years old), but when it comes to using machines, I like to know what I’m doing for safety and for the sake of not embarrassing myself. I’m intimidated by the squat machine for the following reasons/uncertainties:

  • The bar is usually set too high for me to un-rack it
  • Is the bar 45 lbs. by itself? Yes, right?
  • “Wait, this IS the squat rack, right?” (<–kidding, I’m not that lost 😉 )
  • I’m afraid of making people wait. I’m not used to this pressure!

Obviously, I will ask one of the professional trainers for help if and when I DO decide to use the squat rack. It will happen one day. ‘Twill.

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Maybe I should get this snazzy bumper sticker

Anyway…

Dinner

Was da bomb.com:

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Ready for this? Chicken, mozzarella, tomato, basil, spinach panini. YAH. Please try this.

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And these humungous, seedless(!!) green grapes. These were two-biters!

Ben has his best buds over and I’m totally that sister that thinks she’s cool enough to hang out with them. I humor myself.

So tell me: How was your Friday? Are you intimidated by any machines in the gym? What’s for dinner?