Just Roamin’

Spring Break is right around the corner (hello, 5 cities in 8 days), so most of the students in my study abroad program decided to keep our traveling pretty minimal this past week and weekend. Instead, we had a great week exploring, eating, hiking, and running our way through Rome and nearby cities. Who says you need an airplane and a hostel for an adventure?

1. A.S. Roma vs. Sampdoria

Since soccer is so big in Europe, I knew I had to see a game during my semester here. On Monday night, our program took us to an A.S. Roma game at Stadium Olimpico. I have been to sporting events in the United States, but nothing like this game. The fans were singing throughout the entire game; their passion and energy filled the stadium, even though the rainy Monday night kept the seats from filling up. Unfortunately, Roma ended up losing 2 to 0, but the game was a blast. Plus, now I have a cool picture wearing my Roma soccer scarf, so I am a happy camper 🙂

Roma | The Pace

2. Fridgidarium and Piazza del Popolo

On Thursday, my friends and I ventured back to our favorite gelato place in all of Rome…Fridgidarium. It stands out from the rest of the amazing gelato shops by topping off your cone with a hard chocolate shell, and adding a cookie to your cone if you order the “Fridgidarium” flavor (basically, cake batter). All of this for only 2 euro…if this is a sin, I am happy to say, I am a repeat offender.

After spending some time in paradise (aka eating gelato), we walked over to Piazza del Popolo. This is one of my favorite piazzas in Rome because unlike other piazzas with shops and restaurants surrounding it, Piazza del Popolo, which literally means the People’s Square, is just full of people. It’s the perfect place to sit and enjoy the gorgeous, sunny weather with great friends, which is exactly what we did for over an hour. It was a day beautifully spent.

Italy | The Pace

3. Friends and Food

On Friday, our entire program had a midterm exam for our core course, so my roommates and I decided to host a potluck after the exam to celebrate. We had almost 30 people over to our apartment and everyone brought something to share. The food was amazing—mac and cheese, mashed potatoes, pasta, bruschetta, veggies, fruit, beer bread, and more. It was a wonderful mix of our comfort foods from home and our Italian favorites. Fridays are monumentally better when friends and food are involved.

Italy | The Pace

4. Orvieto

Although we decided not to travel anywhere far this weekend, we couldn’t help ourselves from going on a day trip on Saturday. Orvieto, only an hour train ride away, was the perfect destination. We ate a wonderful lunch at Gallo d’Oro (probably one of my favorite meals I have had here so far) and explored the small city of Orvieto. The city is on a hill, so after taking the tram up to the city and then back down to the train station, we decided to hike up the hill ourselves. The climb was amazing, and we stopped along the way to look at the view and take advantage of some awesome photo ops.

Orvieto | The Pace Orvieto | The Pace Orvieto | The Pace Orvieto | The Pace

5. RomaFun 5k

Sunday brought all of the runners (and rain) in Rome out bright and early for a race. Even the rain couldn’t bring down the spirit of the hundreds of runners at the starting line and throughout the race…because how can you be bummed when the route takes you past the Colosseum?

10403460_10205430476553352_5748881482918964123_n

I love how unique each week in this city is…I never know quite what to expect. Although, there is always a pretty good chance that pasta and gelato will be involved 😉

Baci, baci (kisses, kisses),

Tatum

Exploring Italy

The goal of most study abroad students is to travel to as many places as they can and squeeze in as much as possible into this one very special semester. For many of us, this semester is something we have been saving for for years. Studying abroad is such a unique time in our lives and we feel the need to take advantage of every second. This attitude leads most of the students on my program to travel outside of Rome every weekend. Lately, my weekends have been filled with trains and planes to different cities and countries, but this weekend, I focused on Italy.

There are so many things in my own backyard that I keep telling myself I have to do before this semester is over. I used this weekend to do several of those things (and catch up on some much needed sleep!).

This weekend, I had my first cappuccino in Italy…I know, I’m crazy for waiting this long. Usually, I just can’t bring myself to spend the extra money on a cappuccino when I can easily make a quick espresso in my apartment, but this weekend, I went for it at an adorable caffe called Er Baretto. It was amazing (and beautiful!)

Exploring Italy | The Pace

The next item I checked off my Italian bucket list…apertivo. Apertivo is supposed to be the course before dinner. You buy a drink and then are welcome to enjoy an unlimited buffet of various breads, pastas, rice dishes, and more. What apertivo actually is is a really cheap way to stuff your face with the best of Italian food. After only spending 9 euros and making many trips up to the buffet at Tiki Bar, I had enjoyed a delicious strawberry daiquiri, amazing food, and good times with friends. Apertivo is a total win.

Exploring Italy | The Pace

The best part of the weekend was finally accomplishing a big item on my to-do list…a wine tour through Tuscany. We started the tour in Florence and were then taken through the Chianti wine region to the Castello del Trebbio. This castle was built in 1184 by the Pazzi family, the second most important family in Italy at the time. We were taken to the room, known as the Conspiracy Room, where this family planned to assassinate the Medici family. Now, the Castello del Trebbio is owned by the Baj Macario family who actually lives there and produces incredible wine and olive oil. After touring rooms of the castle and the wine cellar, we tasted three types of wine and learned about the importance of sight, smell, and taste in a wine tasting experience.

I am definitely no closer to being a wine snob and still plan to enjoy my 1 Euro bottles of red wine (how can I resist such a steal?!), but now I have had the privilege of enjoying reserve wine made 100% from the native Tuscan grape, Sangiovese, and have knowledge about how to use my senses to tell the age and origin of wine. However, I’m still deciding whether or not to use this knowledge on the 1 Euro wine bottles…in that case, ignorance may be bliss 😉

IMG_7674_2 IMG_7688_2IMG_7693IMG_7689_2IMG_7690_2IMG_7675_2

Thanks for a beautiful weekend, Italy. You never disappoint.

Baci, baci (kisses, kisses),

Tatum

Mind the Gap

I spent the past weekend falling in love with a beautiful city called London…perhaps you have heard of it? 😉 This trip was the first time I travelled outside of Italy after arriving in January, so naturally I was extremely excited. London did not disappoint; it was everything I imagined it would be and more. My friends and I were blessed with gorgeous weather (Londoners told us it was the nicest it has been all year!), which made our visit even more wonderful. The only problem with this city, other than the hit my bank account took from the pound, is that it is way too big to fully explore in a weekend. With this in mind, my friends and I tried to do as much as we could in the limited time we had. We rode the London Eye as the sun set, visited the British Museum, saw the Crown Jewels and other royal paraphernalia in the Tower of London, toured the Harry Potter Studio, strolled through St. James’s Park, saw Buckingham Palace, and of course, had a huge plate of fish and chips.

If you have ever been to London, the phrase, “Mind the Gap” will definitely sound familiar. I heard it what seemed like a million times as I rode the tube around the city and even saw it on t-shirts and shot glasses in souvenir shops. In American English, this phrase means, “Don’t fall into that space between the metro and the platform because you are too busy scrolling through Instagram,” but I think Mind the Gap has a much better ring to it.

In addition to acting as a safety precaution, Mind the Gap started to mean something else to me. After being in Rome for over a month, London reminded me so much of home. I ate Chipotle, walked around with Starbucks in hand, and heard my own language everywhere I went. This was comforting and refreshing, but soon, I felt myself longing for Rome again. Living in Rome is a challenge—I struggle to communicate about simple things, must always be on guard against people trying to take advantage of a “tourist,” and honestly, am still not over having to pay for water in restaurants. But this is a challenge that I love. My time in Rome is much longer than my weekend in London, but it is still limited, and I have been reminded how important it is to appreciate, take in, and embrace as much of the gap between the culture of my home and the culture of Rome as possible. The days are limited, but my ability to be fully mindful of this experience is not.

So for the rest of this trip, in order to stay safe on the metro and get as much out of this semester as possible, I will be sure to “Mind the Gap.” Who knew that recording on the tube had so much wisdom to share?

London | The Pace

View from the London Eye

London | The Pace

On the London Eye

London | The Pace

Diagon Alley at the Harry Potter Studio Tour

London | The Pace

Sipping Butterbeer on Privet Drive at the Harry Potter Studio Tour

London | The Pace

Hogwarts Model at the Harry Potter Studio Tour

London | The Pace

Tower Bridge

London | The Pace

Tower Bridge

London | The Pace

Buckingham Palace

London | The Pace

Had to do it 😉

 Baci, baci (kisses, kisses),

Tatum