So last week I took a very early flight (zzzz) to make my way over to Italy. It is the first time I have visited and I was very excited as it has always been on my bucket list, predominantly because of the food.
My first stop was Tarquinia as I was attending a volcano school. After landing I had to successfully navigate a coach journey, a train journey and a further bus journey all with my only knowledge of Italian being ‘bonjourno’. Although I managed it, all along I couldn’t help thinking that I now knew how Brad Pitt felt in Inglorious Basterds when all he could say was ‘arrivedirchi’ in the most terrible accent ever.
Somehow I made it to my Airbnb and was thankfully greeted by the loveliest, cutest room ever!
Yes, I did unwrap the princess curtains and pretend to sleep like the Queen.
As I was incredibly hungry by this point I went to the Carrefour supermarket and bought a load of food that I really didn’t need, but wanted to try anyway. I also decided to try my first pieces of Italian pizza which were very tasty but I’m still not quite sure what they were topped with.
Eventually I plonked asleep on the bed, absolutely exhausted!
The next morning I went to breakfast and was force fed two slices of toast, some scrambled eggs, a bowl of fruit, a yoghurt, a cappuccino, a glass of juice and three pieces of biscotti by my little Italian lady hostess. It wasn’t till she bought out two slices of chocolate cake that I decided that I needed to stop being polite and just turn the food down.
She mimed to me that she needed my passport and the only words I recognised were ‘police’ and ‘mafia’ so I’m assuming she was proving to the police that I was not part of the Italian mafia…
It was later that day when I couldn’t get out of the front gate to attend the volcano school. I went back into the house to find the little old lady to help me out however, she had disappeared. Me, starting to panic about being late, had managed to set all the dogs off barking with the racket I was making trying to unlock the gate. After 5 minutes I gave up and decided the only way out was to climb the gate.
At this point, half way over this massive gate I realised all the dogs in the neighbourhood were barking at me, I looked like I was breaking and entering and I’d just been asked to prove I wasn’t the mafia. This didn’t look very good so I practically sprinted to the school waiting for my imminent arrest.
Checking the coast was clear and climbing the gate became my daily routine. It wasn’t till the last day when my hostess gave me a lift to the station did I realise that she just pressed a little button next to the gate to open it. What an idiot I was.
Anyway, the volcano school had a nice little set up.
We received free tea, coffee, juice and food the whole time we were there which is not good when you’re not the sort of person who is able to turn down free snacks.
I learnt a lot and met some lovely people from all age ranges and countries and even got to present my work to them all.
Every night I ate dinner with them which either consisted of four dishes (a starter, a pasta dish, meat dish and dessert) or, had a pizza night. We even had Nutella pizza!
I don’t think I have ever eaten so much bread, pizza and pasta in my life however it was all delicious. The free wine went down well too!
The old city of Tarquinia was an absolutely perfect setting to be in.
I felt like I had walked onto the set of Romeo and Juliet!
Cobbles and stone everywhere
Anyone want to move to Tarquinia with me?
On one of the last days we got to visit the Etruscan tombs which is what Tarquinia is world famous for. The Etruscan civilisation was one which existed before the Romans, but is often forgotten about as they just weren’t as cool or violently brutal.
Anyway the tombs were all underground and covered by these little houses
When you went down some stairs you could see all the paintings
They were all empty which I was a bit gutted about as I wanted to see some bones and jewels.
I think if I had a tomb rather than banquets and lions I would decorate it with cats, clouds and a lovely ocean scene.
After the tombs we got to visit the museum which had all the findings from within the tombs.
My favourite item was this little guy with a very impractical hat
There were also lots of pieces of Etruscan pottery which had very raunchy drawings on which I really wish I had taken some pictures of because us Brits were in absolute stitches looking at them.
Following Tarquinia I was heading to Rome to meet my friend. I was very excited to have some company as due to being on my own for so long I had become very accustomed to wearing my free shower cap in the BnB room to provide myself with light entertainment.
I was also looking forward to stop with the intellectual talk and just have normal conversations such as ‘has this high carb diet made you go for more, or less number twos?’, ‘why are all the priests in Italy incredibly attractive?’, ‘how many coffees do you reckon I would have to consume to induce a heart attack?’ and ‘can you see my knickers through my leggings?’.
So I took off for Rome Termini!
Although the Airbnb in Rome was not as nice as the one in Tarquinia, the view was incredible! We had Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore right outside our window!
I could barely contain my excitement!
In the morning we decided to just wander in a general direction until we found something. After a quick croissant and coffee stop this method seemed extremely effective as we just managed to stumble upon the Colosseum!
It was huuuuuuge!
Being given a tour and learning about it’s history was definitely my favourite part of the trip. My only bit of advice is that, once they tell you the fun fact that the women of the night used to carve male genitalia into the arches to mark their service there, don’t wander round saying ‘I just want to see one of the penises’ because there are children about.
I could have wandered round forever but it was roasting hot and we had to meet out next tour guide ‘Chad from America’.
Chad, possibly the most self-assured person I have ever met, gave us a quick tour of the Palantine Hill and then set us free to explore the Roman Forum. The Roman Forum was incredible!
It was just ruin..
How on earth they managed to unearth all those buildings I have no idea. Should have spent more of my youth watching Time Team I think.
Following this, we managed to just follow the tourist crowd and find all the sights. The Trevi Fountain was beautiful but it was so crowded there was no chance of getting a decent picture, as demonstrated:
It was just surrounded by tourists (me included)
To regain energy we decided to have an ice cream which was quite possibly the best I have ever tasted! Cherry and cream flavour topped with a mini cone. How cute!
Following this, we managed to walk up the Spanish Steps without realising they were the Spanish steps and also came across the Vatican City’s St Peters Church whilst just thinking it was a nice big building.
It is just a nice big building really though isn’t it?
We also found the Pantheon which wasn’t as grand as I thought it would be
It did however, have Jesus as a hobbit inside it
That night we found a little restaurant down one of the side streets and guess what I had? More pizza!!
On the way back, due to our poor navigation earlier in the day we managed to get lost. Of course, of all the people we could ask for directions we managed to ask the creepiest guy possible who proceeded to stroke my hair and freak me out. I swear when I go abroad I become a tourist attraction in myself just the locals to stare at.
Anyway, after escaping and having walked about 15 miles we finally made it back to the hotel, exhausted, and unsurprisingly I managed to sleep very well.
The next day we decided to visit the Vatican City. What can be better than crossing another country off your bucket list?
We decided to go with another tour guide so we could learn a little about the history and visit all the accesible areas. The weird thing is you never seem to really go ‘into’ the Vatican City, you just wander around a chain of buildings.
First up, we visited the museum
The tour guide said something important about the pinecone but I had zoned out by this point.
I liked these cheery guys!
And after walking through a LOT of sculptures and tapestries and paintings, I decided this piece of art was my favourite:
Just look at the sass of that lady, you can almost imagine her saying ‘I don’t need your jewels you cretin, I have wings’. I hope to emulate this women in the future however, without wings.
There were lots of decorative ceilings which us tourists shuffled through slowly
Eventually, after lots of hallways, we entered the Sistine Chapel. I managed to sneak a few subtle pictures however I haven’t uploaded them yet. It was a very nice ceiling but god knows how they painted it (haha a bit of a pun there, I’ve made myself laugh).
Eventually we made it out and were allowed to enter St Peter’s Church.
It was enormous and very decorative. There were many people praying and doing religious things and I got a little bit excited every time I saw a nun. I really wanted them to do a little sing-song so we could clap along however it never happened.
After another long day of walking we made it back and rested. The next day we got up and made our journey for our flight back. I was very upset on the flight back as I had been allocated the aisle seat and the woman on the window seat simply closed the shutter and fell asleep. She really needs to learn that the true value of a window seat is looking at the clouds! Tut tut!
All in all, I had a very enjoyable trip and visited two beautiful cities in Italy! I am incredibly sick of carb-y food and even guilt tripped myself into a 10-mile run when I got home. Every time I wanted to stop I reminded myself of the countless pieces of cake I have consumed. Mmmm.
Anyway I’ll leave you with an absolutely great song which we heard being played whilst walking around and you won’t be able to stop yourself singing along!
And remember, Arrivederche!
Ciao for now xxxx