Tag Archives: villa

Skeers Family Fun

After returning from Barcelona, I had to scramble to clean my studio in time. My friend John would be there in just a few hours to photograph me in the intern apartment. He photographs people in their bedrooms (not creepy) for a series he’s working on. You can check out his work here and my photo below. Isn’t it awesome?! I will cherish it forever. The UWRC will use it to promote the internship! Thanks, John!

At Home in the Intern Apartment

Only a few days later, my apartment became a home for two. Maggie, my former roommate Chad’s sister, visited Italy for 18 days, mostly spent in Rome with a few weekends away in Pisa, Florence and Cinque Terre. More on that later. On her first evening in Rome, I took Maggie on my impress-people walk and we ended up at Castel Sant’Angelo, a frequent motif in my blog posts. The next day Maggie took a solo-trip to the Colosseum and had a run-in with a guido. She escaped by latching on to a tour guide who fed her false information about ancient Rome. Don’t worry, I cleared things up.

Maggie and Me at Castel Sant' Angelo

By the next day it was already time for our trip to Tuscany, but this is just a teaser. Look for the next post about shenanigans in Pisa and Florence. We came back from the trip loaded down with goods and ready to be home in our Roman beds. On Monday we decided to explore a different neighborhood of Rome, Trastevere. This neighborhood across the river ranks as one of the best Roman rione in my opinion. We wandered down the tiny streets stopping in boutiques and bookstores and ending up in Santa Maria in Trastevere.

Below the Pincio in Piazza del Popolo

Later that week we were yearning for some green and made plans to visit Villa Borghese. We began at the Pincio and wandered through the gardens to the gallery. I played tour guide in the museum and Maggie and I started to wonder why many of those mythological stories are so similar. There’s a whole lotta love, lust, rape, murder and suicide. Since we’re in the mood for mythology, my next post will contain a poem by Rebecca Hoogs, Creative Writing professor. It’s a modern spin on an old classic she presented during summer quarter.

Maggie in the Borghese Gardens

The next day brought us to the Spanish Steps. Finally some sun! Why was June so wintery anyway? We basked in the sun on the steps, got a little sweaty and then it was time to head home.

That night we invited our neighbors out to my favorite bar, Birreria Trilussa. You remember the giraffa, no? Me either. After we had finished TWO of those, we descended to the river where booths selling trinkets and grub are set up on the banks all summer for Estate Romana.

Giraffa!

I woke up a little fuzzy, but ready for our trip to Cinque Terre, one of the most beautiful spots in the world. So beautiful it warrants its own post. Check back later!

The day we came back from the Cinque, I spent running around arranging things for the faculty welcome dinner in the penthouse that night. Maggie cut bread and I scrounged up enough plates and glasses for all 16 attendees. Lucky us, the faculty dinner was the same day as Saints Peter and Paul holiday. That night we ran from dinner to Ponte Principe Amedeo di Savoia, which is pretty far, to catch the fireworks set off from Castel Sant’Angelo. We ran directly after eating so many courses that I thought I might puke; I managed to hold it in.

The next day Maggie and I tried to escape the heat with a trip to the beach. Not sure if it really worked. We spent the majority of our time on hot, sweaty public transportation, but we did make it to Lido di Ostia. We laid out on the black sand of the free beach and waded up to our knees in filthy water. It was then that I thought to myself, “Gee, I really need to see a nice Italian beach before I leave.” More on that later.

After we cooled off seaside, we heated back up in Ostia Antica, an ancient Roman port city. We climbed over ruins and through the grass rediscovering the empire of past days. It was a nice excursion, but it was over too soon. The site closed before we made it to the Casa di Diana. We did have fun in the amphitheater and temples though.

Fun in Ostia

The next day brought a walking tour of Rome. We made a checklist of all the things Maggie had left to see so that she wouldn’t miss anything. Our walking tour took us through the Ghetto, up to the Campidoglio, down beside the Forum and heading back towards home along Trajan’s forum. Check, check, check and check. The end of Skeers Family Fun came soon after. Maggie spent her last day buying goodies for the fam.

Us in Piazza Navona

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Filed under Italy, Ostia, Rome

If I never go to Naples again, I will die happy.

At Play in Pompeii

So sorry that this post is so late! I have been a busy girl.

A few weeks ago I was invited to the Communications day trip down to Pompeii. Damon and I decided to make a weekend of it and stay in Naples until Sunday. We all jumped on a train early Friday morning and arrived at Pompeii while it was still sunny. Unfortunately, Josh got his camera stolen on the Circumvesuviana, which connects Naples to Pompeii. 😦 So, I took plenty of pictures all day! We walked through the forum, the basilica, a few domus and of course, the Villa of the Mysteries. We even stopped at my favorite place in Pompeii, the Temple of Isis. I think this trip to Pompeii was much more pleasant than when I went three years ago. March is the perfect time of year to visit Pompeii. It’s not too hot and not too crowded. We bought tickets that would also get us into Herculaneum, another archeological site nearby, but by the time the whole group got there, they were no longer admitting visitors. Luckily for Damon and I, the tickets were good for three days. That’s exactly how long we would be in the area! So, instead of going inside Herculaneum, we read Pliny the Younger’s account of the eruption of Vesuvius while overlooking the ruins. How nerdy. I loved it. This is where Damon and I said goodbye to everyone else. We stayed at Herculaneum for a bit, sitting on a bench under a tree while it poured rain all around us.

Damon and I at the Temple of Isis in Pompeii

That night we checked into our lovely little hotel room in Naples and went out to dinner at the nearest restaurant, where we would become regulars for the next three nights. The next day I found out that I was allergic to our lovely little hotel room. I was covered in hives and itchy, itchy, itchy. After showering and eating a little breakfast, I started feeling better, so we went out into the city. Damon and I got our leather boots shined on the streets of Naples and were feeling pretty good about it.

Our next stop was Pizzeria da Michele, a restaurant recommended by, well, everyone. We were so confused at first because there was a huge crowd of people just standing around outside the front door. I went in and tried to ask for a table, but the guy at the cash register just ignored me. As it turns out, you have to go inside, get a number from the waiter and then wait outside until your number is called. And wait is exactly what we did. We waited so long that I was beginning to think we should just eat elsewhere. Damon and I suspected, however, that it would be worth the wait as we assessed the huge crowd outside, which consisted mainly of Italians. “It must be good,” we thought. In fact, it was the best pizza I’ve ever had. Yes, it probably had something to do with me feeling starved, but I think it has more to do with the perfect combination of chaos and simplicity. You only have two options for pizza: with cheese or without. I could wax poetic about this pizza forever, but I’ll just let these photos do the talking:Yum. After our bellies were full, we took a little walk down sketchy lane to the National Archeological Museum of Naples. I had a little research to do there and it’s probably the only thing worth seeing in Naples. Second only to Pizzeria da Michele, that is. Damon and I were bummed that the “secret room” was closed, but it was nice to see the sculptures and frescoes taken from Pompeii. People that visit the ruins and not this museum only get half the story. On the walk home from the museum we saw an attempted purse snatching in a street full of trash. Yay Naples. After that scary episode, we decided to go to our favorite restaurant 30 seconds walk from our room. Where I ate dinner covered in hives.

Damon and the Farnese Hercules in the National Archeological Museum

The next morning, surprise, surprise, the hives were back. But I powered through it and we hopped on the Circumvesuviana. This time we made it early enough to be admitted to Herculanuem. I have been dying to go to this site since Professor Laird told us about it three years ago. It is preserved differently than Pompeii because of its vicinity to Vesuvius. Pompeii was first hit with pyroclastic materials falling from the sky. So, roofs and second stories were all destroyed. In contrast, Herculaneum met its fate from lava flow, so the lava filled buildings from the bottom up. In many cases, the roofs, second and even third stories are still intact in Herculaneum. It was so amazing to see!

Frescoes at Herculaneum

Back in the day, Herculaneum was a port town right on the beach. They even had a boat and fishing supplies on display. I took some pictures for dad. Damon and I spent most of the day goofing around at the ruins. Here we are at a thermopolium, which is like an ancient fast food restaurant. Damon, my customer, is ordering some gravel with a side of gravel.

Customer and Employee at a Thermopolium

Here we are being amazed at how short Ancient Romans were:

After our long day at Herculauem, we got lunch/dinner, realized we missed the Villa dei Papiri, ran back, saw it was closed, I got a migraine and Damon had to lead a blind leper back to the train station. 😦 So, now you know why I don’t need to go back to Naples. It hates me. Evidence: Stolen Camera, Closed Archeological Site, Pouring Rain, Rash, Closed Secret Room, Trash, Purse-Snatching, Rash, Rash, Closed Villa, Migraine. I get it, Naples. I get it.

Despite all those negative things, I still had a wonderful weekend with the man I love.

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Filed under Herculaneum, Italy, Naples, Pompeii

Check that one off the list.

On Sunday Damon and I took a train out to Frascati, a hilltop town just outside of Rome. Frascati is known for two things: white wine and its famous Villa Aldobrandini. It’s not a very touristy place in the winter and it’s a refreshing break from life in Rome.

We arrived pretty early in the day and the whole town was dead. Well, that’s not entirely true. Everyone was in church and none of the stores or restaurants were open yet. Damon and I wandered around the empty cobblestone streets and happened upon beautiful piazzas, a colorful tower and a large park.

Tower in Frascati

We just happened to walk into the main square in front of San Pietro Apostolo right as church was letting out. I had completely forgotten that it was the first day of Carnevale and children in costumes starting pouring out the church’s doors with handfuls of confetti, with the occasional kid wielding a can of silly string. Damon and I watched the confetti war for a good 15 minutes.

Confetti War in Piazza San Pietro Apostolo

I had a different mental image of Carnevale than what we actually saw. In Italian class we learned about all the traditional Carnevale characters and I guess I expected to see everyone dressed up as Pantalone or something. Instead it looked like the parents raided the Halloween aisle of a Walmart or something. Our favorite two-some was a little prince and your friendly neighborhood Spiderman.

A serious conversation between Spiderman and the Prince.

After the celebration, we wandered around trying to find a restaurant that was open at the normal American time to eat lunch. It proved slightly difficult, but meant that we scouted out nearly every restaurant Frascati has to offer and ended up at what I believe to be its best. It was a cute, hole-in-the-wall type rustic Italian trattoria with a hand-written menu and a welcome fireplace. Damon and I hung our coats in the glow of the fire and shared the best meal of our lives:

A bottle of the local red wine (even though Frascati is famous for white. Oops!)

A complimentary ginger grappa drink with an olive and a slice of orange

Four different kinds of bread

Porcini mushroom soup

Savory crepes filled with ricotta and spinach

Gnocchi with a pumpkin cream sauce (Well, actually that was Damon’s, but I tried it and it was delicious.)

Grilled vegetables

Pork filet with chestnut sauce

The best tiramisu ever because instead of soaking the sponge cake part in brandy, it had a few chestnuts on top which had been soaked in brandy. I had been craving tiramisu all week and now nothing will ever compare!

I wish I had taken some photos of the meal, but my stomach was more powerful than my brain at the time.

After lunch we had plans to go and visit the famous Villa, but alas, it was closed. I had been there once three years ago with my study abroad program. It was the end of spring and we wandered around the gardens in the sunshine. Villa Aldobrandini looks so different in the dead of winter. The fountains are dry, the labyrinth is overgrown and the gray skies and color of the mansion combine to create a eerie mood. I feel like this villa should be haunted or something. The tall gates locked with a rusty chain didn’t help.

Damon outside of Villa Aldobrandini

Anyway, Frascati was awesome and I hope to go back this summer to escape Rome’s heat and catch the breeze on top of this hill outside the city.

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A Series of Friend-Making Events

This week Leisha met up with Mia in Milan for the Homeless World Cup and left me alone in Rome again. Only this time I chose not to sit on my bum! This is the story of me not sitting on my bum:

Friend-Making Event #1

On Tuesday I met up with a bunch of couchsurfers in Villa Borghese. I guess a few years ago someone decided to replicate Shakespeare’s Globe Theater in the Villa’s gardens and now you can see his comedies and tragedies all summer long as if you were in London. Roberta, who studies Theater, organized the event and there were three Italians and a Russian girl there. I thought, “Hey, it will be a great way for me to practice Italian.” Aside from speaking with the couchsurfers, I was wrong. Shakespearean Italian is not the kind of Italian that I am capable of understanding. Luckily for me, I am very familiar with the play. I read The Taming of the Shrew in high school and, really, who hasn’t seen 10 Things I Hate About You? Also, just to be sure, I read the cliff notes before hopping on the bus to the Villa. So, I was able to follow along for the most part. Afterwards, Roberta gave me a lift home on her motorino. It was my first romantic, night-time Vespa ride. She turned into a bit of a tour guide on the drive, telling me about all the sights. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that I already knew quite a bit about the city. When we said goodbye I almost walked away with her helmet. Oops. I hope to see her again soon!

Friend Making Event #2

Wednesday night was the first night of a course at the American University of Rome that I hope to audit. The course is on Art Crime (theft, vandalism, forgery, etc.) taught by Noah Charney. Please click on the link to his website. He’s absolutely amazing. He is the first academic art crime expert EVER to exist and he is currently working on two TV shows. One is a documentary series that he will host and the other is a CSI-type show with a character based on him. The show will be about Noah helping the authorities solve crimes against art. He also created a non-profit organization that helps churches protect their works of art… for free. Anyway, enough sausaging about Noah. Just check out his website. Back to the friend-making. So, during the class I sat next to an American girl named Sam. She is an art major from some school I have never heard of and she just arrived in Rome last week. We exchanged emails and may be meeting up in the future! Score! Two friends in less than 24 hours!

Friend-Making Event #3

After the class, I met up with the LSJ students who were having a goodbye party for one of their professors. Professor Walsh is leaving Rome early because his wife was just appointed to Obama’s council for something something. Yeah, you know, because that happens everyday. Anyway, it was a wonderful party and I ended up getting gelato with a few students afterwards. Apparently I made a joke that made me seem more human (less intern?) to the students. SUCCESS! If you can consider this Friend-Making Event #3, then the next one will graciously take the place of event #4.

Friend-Making Thing #4

This one is questionably considered an event. I guess all of Rain’s roommates were participating in other events that did not sound appealing to him. (The LSJ group is ridden with drama. Don’t get me started.) So, we decided to watch one of his favorite movies, Stardust. It is now quite possibly one of my favorites as well. While Rain slept through most of the movie, I was glued, wide-eyed, to the screen. It has a cheesy, but oh-so-good factor that is simply off the charts. Just check out the trailer and see for yourself.

Potential Friend-Making Event #5

Leisha and Mia returned to Rome on Friday. Mia is one of Leisha’s friends from the design program and she is here working for Cornelia. I can’t even begin to describe this woman, so I won’t try. Anyway, I foresee friendship in my and Mia’s collective future. Only time will tell!

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Adding visitors to visitors.

On Saturday Joey and I took the bus out to Tivoli to visit Hadrian’s Villa. Joey had learned about the villa in sixth grade and has been dying to visit ever since. However, after we got there, Joey seemed confused. “Where are all the fountains and gardens?” Turns out he was thinking about Villa d’Este, also in Tivoli. We made the best of it in the heat, touring the ruins, looking at the cute turtles and stopping for a short nap on a bench.

Hadrian's Villa

Hadrian's Villa

On Sunday Leisha, Jenn and I went to Porto Portese, an open air flea market in Trastevere. There are vendors selling beautiful antiques, walmart-quality clothing and a charger for every cell phone ever made. Leisha was pricing Olivetti typewriters, I was pricing accordions and Jenn was just along for the ride. In the end, I left with a present for Joey, two original uncut prints of playing cards from Naples for only one euro each! One print is a card game called Briscola that we are utterly addicted to. It involves vying for points with four new suits, including one trump suit. It is so much fun!

While we were at the market, Joey was picking up his friend Patrick at the train station. Patrick will be staying with us/entertaining Joey all week.

That night I gave Joey a haircut and now he looks like he should be in the air force. Better or worse? You decide.

BEFORE

BEFORE

AFTER

AFTER


Monday night Leisha, Jenn, Joey, Patrick and I went to the festival on the river, Lungo il Tevere. We walked up and down the river looking at all the shops. We had dinner there and followed it up with gelato, of course. Afterwards we went to a famous pub in Trastevere for happy hour and shared a giraffa of Pilsner. A giraffa literally translated means giraffe, but it is a tall thin 4.5 liter container of beer with a faucet at the bottom for pouring drinks. We had a great time playing the celebrity name game Joey made up, although I probably named artists more often that celebrities.

Me, Joey, Leisha and Jenn with our empty girafa.

Me, Joey, Leisha and Jenn with our empty girafa.

Lately we have been absolutely addicted to the TV show LOST. Joey, Patrick and I cope with the day’s heat by huddling together in front of my laptop with an episode. Every once in a while Jenn or Leisha will join in the festivities.

Tomorrow after work Joey, Jenn and I will meet Patrick in Florence for the weekend. Leisha is staying in Rome because her parents will be in town!

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Filed under Italy, Rome, Tivoli