When in Rome …

OK, cheesy blog post title. But I had to do it.

I spent nearly a week in three parts of Italy — Rome, Milan and Venice — and loved them all. Each had its own atmosphere, but good food and great weather was the same throughout, thankfully.

I thought Rome was beautiful. The guided tour we took of the Coliseum and adjacent ancient Roman ruins enhanced our visit, I think. I learned a lot about the history of the area, such as that citizens took metal out of the abandoned Coliseum’s infrastructure during the Middle Ages, and that the Romans constructed new buildings literally on top of old ones. (Now I understand why creating a third subway line was such hard work for the city — archaeologists have to work to uncover what’s underground.)

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The Trevi Fountain was also a favorite, as was the Pantheon.

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We saw sites other than the immediately obvious tourist attractions, too. We took a free walking tour in English, on which we saw a ton of cathedrals, statues and old buildings. (No surprise there.) We also took time to just wander down streets — we went to a market, wandered into some attractions and got a feel for the culture. And, of course, we ate tons of gelato.

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One surprising thing about Rome was the constant presence of hecklers. Every minute, someone was waving a scarf in my face or shouting at me to buy sunglasses — and you could find someone else selling the same thing a block down. Some of them wouldn’t take no for an answer until the third time one said it. I understand that people were doing this to earn a living, but I didn’t expect for so many people to be doing it, and in such a confrontational way. However, that didn’t have too much of an effect on how much I liked it.

Then John, Mariam and I parted ways, and I flew to Milan to visit my friend Caitlyn, who goes to MU. I got there Friday evening, so we grabbed a delicious Italian dinner and explored downtown Milan — an architecture and interior design conference was going on, so there were a lot of cool pop-up shops and such to look at. We spent more time exploring the city Sunday, which included stops at a castle, some beautiful gardens behind an arch, and the famous Duomo cathedral (below).

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We took a day trip Saturday to Venice. It was absolutely beautiful, and I will never again take as many pictures of canals as I did that day. (But really, it was pretty.) We didn’t have a set plan — we spent much of the day wandering down side cobblestone streets and looking at canals and other city features.

IMG_1862We also stopped in a square with, yes, another famous and stunning cathedral. The square also had this really neat clock with the zodiac signs on it, and we paid to go to the top of this building to get a cool aerial view of the city. It was very cold and windy up there, but the trip was worth it for the view.

IMG_1927All in all, I loved Italy. I can see why Shakespeare based so many of his plays there!

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