March Madness: Part 3

I know it may seem a little ridiculous that I’m still writing about March at the end of April, but I told you March had a lot going on! April has been full of schoolwork (yeah, that does exist here), but now that I have a little break I can finish telling you about last month.

At Maynooth, we get a week off for Easter (Ole Miss should really follow suit). My friend Miriam and I decided to spend Easter week in the most appropriate place: Italy!

Day one of traveling was not very exciting, except for a great experience with Swiss Air (free quiche and chocolate, hello!) and a surprise view of the Alps!IMG_1271

We only had time for dinner before heading to bed, so we hit the ground running the next morning.

We booked tickets for the Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel, so we went there first thing on day two. After going through security at the Vatican, I noticed a huge crowd of people sitting down. I quickly realized what was happening and yelled to Miriam, “The Pope is right there!” We later found out he was giving a speech about the Brussels attacks. I couldn’t believe we saw him without planning it. What a great surprise!

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He’s there, I promise!
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Got a selfie with the Pope, no big deal.

After listening to the Pope for a little while, we ate lunch and then headed to the museum. The Vatican Museum has a massive amount of stuff in it, including paintings, sculptures, and artifacts. Unfortunately, we couldn’t take pictures inside the Sistine Chapel, but you can take my word for it that it’s beautiful.

Nearby the Vatican Museum is Castel Sant’Angelo, and this was our next stop. It offers great views of the city and when you walk through it, you feel like you’ve stepped back in time.

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We finished our day with dinner (my first gnocchi experience – I give it an A+) and gelato. This was actually one of the better meals I had during the week. Despite my expectations, not all Italian food was as great as I thought it would be. If you want me to tell you more about this, feel free to ask. For the sake of keeping you interested, though, I’ll only tell you about the wonderful food I had!

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Left Ireland, still found potatoes.

Day three was a long one. We woke up and headed out for an early lunch before taking the train to Florence. Now, I ate a lot of pizza during this week, and I’m about to show you the best of the best (and the only pizza worth telling you about). Miriam and I split ours, and this is what I expected when I came to Italy! It was pizza from Pinsere, and it only cost about 4 euros.

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After arriving in Florence, we met up with Miriam’s friend Martha, who has been studying abroad there since August. She gave us a walking tour of the city that night, including a climb (and I mean a climb) up to a place that has the best view of the city. On top of this hill is a church from around 900 A.D. We went in to look at the church and saw that there was a Mass taking place. We were able to witness part of an Italian Mass during Easter week! After we accidentally saw the Pope and accidentally walked in on Mass, I started calling us “accidental Catholics.”

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We then walked across the most historic bridge in Florence and ate dinner. We ate at a place where you get a cocktail and access to the buffet for 10 euros – pretty good deal!

Since we only had one full day in Florence, we packed a lot in on day four! We started out by going to Boboli Gardens, which offers up more great views of the city.

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Next, we ate lunch at a great panino place (I learned that it’s “panino,” not “panini”). All it had was focaccia bread, mozzarella, and salami, but it was so delicious. Miriam and I still talk about this sandwich! Everything tasted so fresh.

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The least exciting part of our day was waiting in line for two hours to see Michelangelo’s David, but it was worth it! When you see it in person, it will shock you how large and detailed it is.

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Our last stop before dinner was at a Roman ruins site, where they have uncovered a Roman amphitheater. It’s amazing to stand in a place with so much history – can’t get that at home! We ate dinner with Martha and her roommates at a place favored by locals. Their menu changes weekly depending on what ingredients they get, which means everything is fresh.

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Day five was significantly less exciting than day four. We took the train back to Rome, and although it was long, it was really nice to enjoy views of the countryside. Miriam and I were exhausted from our previous day, but we made a stop at the Trevi Fountain before going back to the hostel. I made a wish and had a true Lizzie McGuire moment.

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On day six, I got to see what we’ve all been waiting for! We went to the Colosseum first thing, and it’s as impressive as it looks in pictures.

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Seeing the Colosseum was a dream come true. Right next to the Colosseum is the Roman Forum, which we visited next. I had no idea how massive this would be, and it continued to amaze me as I walked through it.

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Our last stop of the day was the Pantheon, where the first two kings of Italy are buried.

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This concluded our trip to Italy, but our adventure wasn’t quite over! We had a long layover in Frankfurt, Germany, so we were able to walk around the city for a couple of hours. We had to walk in the rain, but it was worth it to see another new place and add another country to our list.

Overall, I’m so grateful that I got to spend Easter week in Italy! I personally preferred a smaller city like Florence over Rome, but I’m happy we got to do both. I’m excited about the idea of going back to Italy one day and seeing other cities and more of the countryside.

Well, the March Madness is over, but I’ll be back soon to tell you about some of my April fun, including a trip to one of my favorite destinations yet. I’ll be spending my last month here traveling around Ireland and doing some last minute exploring. Time is going fast, so I’m trying to pack in as much as possible. Whatever I end up doing, I promise you’ll be the first to know. 🙂

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