Hannah Blog 3
There are some things that you grow out of, but then there are some things you don't. For me, one of these things is my love and devotion to ice cream, more specifically, gelato. I can still remember the very first time I experienced that heavenly taste of airy but yet creamy, sweet but not overwhelmingly sugary, morsel of Italian dessert. It truly was love at first bite. Okay that sounded kind of creepy, but you know what I mean… Anyways, I was fortunate enough to experience eating gelato regularly on my adventures in Buenos Aires due to the heavy Italian influx and immigration, but I still longed to try eating gelato at the origin of its existence- Italia. Thus, I made it a priority and goal to eat gelato as much as I could while I was in Rome.
However, when I woke up on day three, I realized that I had yet to eat any gelato. I was shocked that I had let myself go this long without having some. I felt like I really let myself down. Thus, I made it an absolute priority that I was going to eat gelato today. After all, it was Valentine's Day and it was only appropriate that I participate in an activity that I loved (eating food) with somebody close my heart, (one of my best friends-Luqman), in a city that is known for romance and love (Rome). I informed Luqman that we would be eating gelato today, come hell or highwater. (BTW does anyone know what highwater is? I say this saying a lot, but I really don't know what highwater means. Am I even saying/spelling it right?)
We left our hotel and started off on a walking tour of some of Rome's famous monuments. We again visited the Pantheon and this time we came during open hours so we were able to walk inside. The Pantheon was originally built during Hadrian's time as a dedication to the classical gods. It was later changed in 608 AD to a Christian Church. Besides the beautiful art inside, the Pantheon has an amazing architectural form. It is actually considered by many to be Rome's architectural crowning glory. This is because the Pantheon is the largest unreinforced concrete dome ever built and it is a perfect semi sphere. This means that the diameter is exactly equal to the height. On the outside, the Pantheon looks quite intimidating due to large number of the huge stone columns. Close to the Pantheon is another Egyptian Obelisk. I know I've mentioned obelisks quite a bit, but like piazzas, there are a lot (not as quite as many as piazzas) of obelisks in Rome. There are 13 of them and they are scattered through the city.
I was somewhat hungry so we sat down at a local café and I enjoyed a caprese salad (buffalo mozzerella cheese, tomatoes, basil leaves, and olive oil) and a cup of hot chamomile tea. The hot tea was especially good since it is quite chilly here in Rome. We left the café and walked towards the Trevi Fountain.
The Trevi Fountain is Rome's largest and probably most famous fountains. It was designed in 1732 by Nicola Salvi and it is a depiction of Neptune's chariot being led by Tritons riding one wild and one docile sea horses. The source of the water from the fountain comes from of the oldest Roman aqueducts. We arrived at the fountain to a sea (ha ha, get it sea… fountain…water…) of people. After gazing at the opulence of the fountain, we made our way down so we could take pictures by the fountain. During our visit, we were constantly bombarded by Bangladesh men who kept trying to sell us everything from flowers to flying helicopter toys to bendable duck shaped gadgets. Now I'm no business savvy tycoon, but where in the world do they get the idea to sell this stuff and more importantly, who buys this stuff and why?! Anyways, it was actually one of these men who took our picture by the fountain. Legend says that you're supposed to toss a coin over your head into the fountain for good luck and love as well as your safe return to the eternal city. So I thought to myself "when in Rome…" (haha! Man I'm on a roll with these one liners!) and I closed my eyes, made a wish and tossed the coin over my head in hopes that Prince Charming would find me. However in case he doesn't, if there are any cute, single men who have a good paying job, in good health, and who can cook as well as dance, please let me know…But I digress…
Since we were at the fountain, I decided that this was the time to indulge in some good gelato. We went to a gelateria and ordered some gelato. By the way, gelato doesn't just come in boring flavors like vanilla and chocolate. Gelato comes in many unique and you could even say whimsical (a special wink to a certain someone who uses that word a lot) flavors such as Nutella, Tiramisu, Cherry Poundcake, etc. As we savored and ate our heavenly Italian delights, we both smiled and sighed in gelato happiness.
We continued on and came to, you guessed it, another piazza! This time it was Piazza Colonna, which is a grand square that is home to the official residence of the Italian Prime Minister (Palazzo Chigi) and the Italian Chamber of Deputies (Palazzo di Montecitorio). Accordingly, it was only appropriate that I felt as though I should engage in some conversation about politics with some Italian locals. I found some security guards outside of the Prime Minister's residence and decided to talk to them. I asked them about the difference between the Prime Minister and the President. They informed me that the Prime Minister is more of a symbolic figure kind of like a diplomat, while the President has more official political and national power. I told them that I was amazed at the fact that it was literally possible to stroll up the Prime Minister's house. For those of you who have visited the White House, you know that a huge iron gate, 1230912309123 security guards, 2347823498324 military officials, and an infinite number of undercover secret service men, stand in your way of getting anywhere near more than a football field length's distance to the Commander and Chief's home domicile. I guess the fact that you can get so close to the Prime Minister's residence goes back to the laid back and trusting Roman culture. After all, we didn't even have to fill out immigration or custom cards when we arrived at the airport. I talked to the security guards about Italian politics some more and then I asked about their opinions on current American politics. They told me that they found it interesting that the Democratic race for Presidential nominee was between two minorities. (Not that it matters, but they all thought Barack Obama was going to win... I know, I know, I'm getting off topic, but as my good friend Mela would say. "I'm just sayin…."). I asked them their opinion about a woman becoming President and they all scoffed. I was a bit offended because I felt like they were being somewhat chauvinistic. However, they explained that although they weren't personally against it, they thought that the Italian political system was still too "old boys club" like and conservative and that it would take divine intervention or a huge radical movement for a woman to become President of Italy. I thanked them for a great conversation, said the customary Buena Cera! and met up with Luqman who was taking pictures (surprise surprise). We walked back towards the hotel and decided we needed to find an internet café to post some blogs as well as communicate with some of our family and friends back home. However, we got to the internet café 10 minutes to closing time and thus only had time to send an email letting people know we were safe and alive. We made our way back to the hotel, cutting through Piazza Navona again, and came back to the hotel room to type up our blogs.
As I wrote my blogs, I reflected on everything that had occurred these past few days and I smiled to myself. I realized how amazing this trip has been and how much even more amazing and better it was going to get. After all, as the saying goes, the best is yet to come!