Our first official day in Rome!
We woke up early to get the most out of our day. I managed to get in a quick workout while Claire was getting ready, which put the morning off to a great start!
The plan for that day was to go visit my university, The John Felice Rome Center, on the opposite side of Rome. we grabbed our transit passes and hustled out the door before 9, making great time! A subway, bus ride and short walk later, we were at the front gate of the jforce. I was beyond excited to be back on campus; it’s such a beautiful and peaceful slice of suburban Rome. Unfortunately, I’m notoriously bad at taking pictures and didn’t take any of the campus when I was a student there and just realized I didn’t take a single picture this time either. woops.
We were buzzed in at the front gate and went to the porter’s desk to check in as visitors. I instantly recognized the porter on duty and waited to see if she would recognize me. Last year, I had extremely short hair, with the back shaved, super short sideburns and barely an inch on top. At the moment, I’m trying to grow it out, so it’s about 5 inches long and all pushed back with a headband, entirely different from how I used to look. When she looked up, she did a little double take and recognized me! It was great to briefly catch up with her while we got our visitor’s passes.
After signing in, we headed downstairs to the library to see my friend from Chicago who studied abroad this semester. When I turned the corner, Sarah looked up, jumped out of her chair and we were hugging within seconds. I had no idea how much I missed my friends and Chicago until we were both hugging and crying. It felt so good to see someone from home! We left Sarah in the library after visiting for a bit and headed downstairs to the second basement which houses the school’s cafe. My RA from last year was sitting with her mum a friend and some of the faculty from the school. At first she didn’t recognize me, but then shouted “oh my god Rachael your hair is so long!” and came over for a big hug! It was so great!
We ended up sitting with her group for about an hour, munching on cornetti and sipping our cappuccini. I’ll admit, I took a cornetto to go, and Claire grabbed another ciambella as well. Italian pastries are my kryptonite! :]
From the JFRC, we headed to the Vatican. I adore Vatican City. It is so beautiful and I love to think of all of the historical and political events that have happened there throughout time. I am always so humbled whenever I stand in St. Peter’s Square and just look at the amazing architecture that surrounds me.
After the Vatican, we headed out on foot along the river, passing Castel Sant’Angelo and walking up to Piazza Cavour. We hopped on a bus, rode it up to Piazza del Poppolo and took a few minutes to just people watch and take in the beautiful square with it’s massive fountain and carvings. Claire even jumped on one of the lion statues :]
We started to walked down Via del Corso, the main shopping street in Rome. We stopped in all of my favorite shops, as well as some new ones that had popped up in the last year (Ascot?) We turned down Via Condotti, the street lined with Gucci, Prada, Burberry and every other label imaginable. It’s such a beautiful street and it leads directly to Piazza di Spagna and the Spanish Steps! We were a little hungry at this point, so we decided to hit up the “fancy” McDonald’s to the side of the Spanish Steps. This particular McDo tries to blend in to it’s surroundings and does a pretty good job. It’s covered in marble and mosaic tiles, and it’s winding corridors and stairs are very Roman:p Typically, I refuse to eat at McDonald’s; but in Europe I always make the exception because the menu is always just a tiny bit different, and when in Rome right? We each ordered a chocolate dipped cone (not very adventurous) and headed to the steps to people watch and eat our cones.