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Sunday, February 5, 2012

Italy, Six Months After: Part II

Amalfi Coast and Rome

Our last day of the trip was spent travelling through the small coastal towns of Amalfi and Ravello. I had the juiciest plum I’ve ever had from a fruit stand outside of Positano, at the Belvedere lookout point. With a sign advertising Viagra for stands of chili peppers and a man hawking 1 euro postcards, it was a little touristy, but oh damn son, that was the finest plum I’ve ever eaten. The small town of Amalfi was on the sea and had a famous church. I stopped for a chocolate pastry and wandered into dress shops with Emily. I bought two simple, lovely blue and white sundresses and made myself stop before I bought the entire contents of the shop. We took a boat out along the Amalfi coast where the captain pointed out more rich people’s houses, whom I had never heard of. I jumped off the ship and treaded water in the most gorgeous ocean, while others from our ship cliff jumped. Best Sunday morning of my life.

The last stop on our journey was Ravello, which is known for its cameo jewelry. I bought a mediocre calzone, watched a wedding procession, and bought a few souvenirs, while conveniently leaving my wallet at the shop. Luckily, I had just enough time to miss the group photo while I ran like hell back to the shop before the bus could leave. I’ve never sputtered so many “grazies!” Hopefully  they realized my gratitude.

Journeying back to Rome was fairly uneventful, but I signed up for a walking tour of Rome the next day, it being my last day in Europe before heading home. I had a drink with the tour guide, Ben, and some of the other people from our group. Ben informed us that Aussie girls were easy compared to Americans, because many Aussies travel around the world and have fun, while Americans tend to travel for school and are therefore more serious…yeah, I don’t know. He was more than a little odd.


After feasting on a delicious 6 euro Italian brunch at the Plus Roma, including ham, soft delicious rolls, hard-boiled eggs, and yogurt, Emily and I took the bus and subway to the Colosseum. We found a lot of tour guides hawking a 30-euro tour of the Colosseum, which I thought was pretty expensive, but in the end we caved.  After a brief talk outside with the tour guide waving around a history book, we went inside and eventually made our way up to the second floor of the Colosseum. It was colossal, circular with rows of worn stone benches and arches and a grand stadium feel. In the center was the arena, which looked like an ancient maze, but we were told it was much more intricate, as the lions, tigers, hippos, and other animals lived down there for the gory competitions. The guide told us the horrors that had happened between the gladiators, the slaves, and the animals, the smells in the heat, the cheering of the crowd, the ripped-apart bodies, the animal carcasses being fed to the live ones at the end of the day. Unbelievable.

After buying a folded pizza sandwich at a restaurant  that we weren’t allowed to sit inside in, for some reason, I bid my friends farewell and went to find the Rome walking tour guide. Out of another group of Aussies, I was the only one from the states, which the tour guide seemed pretty excited by. Being from Iowa, he asked me about the Packers and expressed disappointment about Wisconsin's new governor. We walked around the city, passing monuments, including the Basilica and the temples. Frankly, I don’t remember much because it was incredibly hot and tiring, but luckily Rome has free drinking fountains with delicious, cold water. Pompeii had them too. 

After a gelato stop, I picked up a few souvenirs around the Colosseum, found little else to do, and traveled back to the hostel to pack and say goodbye to Emily, Caroline, Brooke, and the other girls I had met. Luckily, I have most of them on Facebook. I only knew them for three days, but they made my trip so worthwhile. :)

It’s been five months since I studied abroad. I’ve covered my bedroom door in photos so I don’t forget. Sitting down to write this was surprisingly easy once I concentrated-all the details have flooded back during these few hours of writing. Thanks for coming back to read this.

I also want to thank McIntyre Library for letting me bring Rosie along for the trip. She made a worthwhile travel companion, and no one could resist her charms.

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