FRI. JULY 3: Day 25
I reenacted The Lizze McGuire Movie this weekend, except I didn’t get swept off my feet by a gorgeous Italian pop star named Paolo. Ok, I guess the only similarity between me and Liz is the fact that I threw a coin into the Trevi Fountain.
You guessed it! I went to Rome. Italy’s capital. A sprawling, cosmopolitan city with nearly 3,000 years of globally influential art, architecture, and culture on display.
Accademia Italiana organized this group trip to the buzzing hotspot where the old collides with the new. After a three-and-a-half hour bus ride, we arrived at our hotel and quickly made our way out the door to explore.
Rome was no cooler than Florence in terms of the temperature. Italy’s heat is verging on the edge of unbearable at this point. I’ve decided there are only two options: 1. shower five times a day or 2. accept the fact that I am a sweaty, disgusting mess and get over it.
The first day, we went to the Vatican and walked through it’s beautiful museums and the Sistine Chapel. I’ve been to Rome before, but Michelangelo’s work still left me standing, head up, eyes wide, and mouth agape. The figures seemed so lifelike, appearing as if they were three dimensional, which simultaneously freaked me out and amazed me.
(No photos are allowed in Cappella Sistina; all photos posted are of the Vatican museums. I also apologize for the quality/lack of photos, as I only had my small point-and-shoot camera that died on me.)
Every city has a personality. Rome is very different from Florence, with it’s frantic pace, the messiness, the energy, and the juxtaposition of the uber old and ultra modern. Due to it’s large population and size, you can find many different people, cultures, and groups. It’s an Italian melting pot.
I prefer Florence. I might be biased because I’ve spent the majority of my time in Florence and have grown very attached to it, but the wide open streets and more modern feel of Rome were an interesting change of pace. However, I missed how walkable Florence was when we had to cram over 40 girls into a public bus to get around the city.
SAT. JULY 4: Day 26
The next day, we went to the Colosseum, the Pantheon, the Roman Forum, and the Trevi Fountain. Feeling nostalgic, I dug up a picture of myself throwing in a coin four years ago and I thought, “Wow, it worked! I’m back in Rome.”
I tossed a coin into the under-construction Fontana di Trevi and wished to be back again. Hopefully the magic works a second time.
The places we visited attract so many tourists because no matter how many times you see them, they are still awe-inspiring. They are a physical manifestation of time passing and just how long people have been innovating and creating. I find it very humbling to see these structures still standing.
We spent the entire day in direct, unavoidable sunlight, which produced intense tan lines on my skin, but also gave me an excuse to fill up my water bottle at every fountain we passed and…. dump it right on my head. The cold water was refreshing, but it dried up so fast! I had to get gelato!
I found an adorable gelateria shaped like a Volkswagen van! I tried licorice for the first time, and I have to say, it was surprisingly delicious!
We made it back from Rome just in time to celebrate the Fourth of July in Florence. I don’t think any wish at the Trevi Fountain could have made this night any better!
First, I decked out in red, white, and blue and went to an American-Irish pub with all the girls on my trip. I’m a girl whose mood is very influenced by environment and I was not really feeling it.
Sarah, Molly, and I left and went to a gastropub across from our apartment called Reverse, which is a pretty, new dive bar in Florence with a modern style and a friendly (and also gorgeous) staff. This cafe has such a cool environment and I want to shake the hands of the interior designer.
We shared an delicious cocktail called Apple Downtown, which was electric green and tasted like exactly like a green apple jolly rancher. There was a special going on, so due to buying a drink, I got a free shot. I told the bartender to surprise me and she gave me an Italian liquor called sambuca. It tastes like anise and is the Italian equivalent of Greek Ouzo. I love black licorice so I liked it!
We left around 1:30 and happily strolled through the streets of Florence, laughs and giggles spilling from our insides, in search of the secret bakery.
Yes, you read that correctly. The secret bakery. When it’s 2:00 AM in Florence, it is just the last stop you need to catapult your night from great to epic.
Every night, as Florentines turn out their lights, the secret bakeries turn theirs on. Bakers furiously mix and pour throughout the night in order to stock the cafes of the city with tantalizing treats by dawn. However, with a map and one euro, you’ll be able to snag a piping-hot pastry before it leaves the kitchen.
Due to the fact that these bakeries are strictly providers, they are not allowed to sell pastries directly to the public. This is why the facilities remain unmarked. Technically the late-night underhanded distribution is illegal but the police like their bombolone and cornetti so they may be standing in line with you too…
Let the wafting scent of warm pastries guide you to the unmarked door in the tucked-away alley. Just knock on the door and wait for the baker to pop his head out. Be ready with your order, as they like to make quick work. The baker will return shortly with a small bag of your pastries. Hand him one euro and immediately delve into the gooey, warm, treats and fall in love with Italy even more.
I suppose I got lucky tonight because I was given two nutella-filled croissants (cornetti) straight from the oven for a single euro.
There are a few secret bakeries scattered around Florence, but I only went to the extent of finding one near Piazza Santa Croce. If you see Angie’s Pub or are on Via delle Brache, you’re not on the exact street, but you’re very close. Look for a frosted glass door resembling a garage. You’ll smell it before you see it. Just keep hushed voices, knock on the door, be patient, and be prepared for delicacy.
Address: Via Canto del Rivolto
Funny story: along the way, met some Italian teens smoking in an alleyway. We were a bit frustrated becase we couldn’t find the bakery, so, assuming they have local-knowledge, I asked them if they knew where the secret bakery was.
They all looked at me like I had three heads and said, “You mean the secret bakery inside your head?” I was persistent. “No, no it exists! I was just there a few days ago!” They truly thought I was the mad hatter. “We have lived here our whole lives and have no idea what that is. Maybe it’s a myth.”
Then, we found the bakery the next street over and after receiving our desserts, ran back to them and said, “I told you we’re not crazy!!!!” Basically, they flipped out and begged us to show them where it’s located.
I am in heaven and I never want to leave. Italy, you are ridiculously charming.