Sunday, March 27, 2011

024 - Weekend with the Family

Lets dive right into this post shall we?

As I mention in my last post, my family had arrived in Italia, last weekend and they got back into Roma on thursday evening. So after class I went down to meet them at the apartment that they rented for the long weekend near Villa Borghese. It was a bit tricky to get to, so I took a bus to Via del Corso and walked up the Spanish Steps...questionable idea, it was a much longer walk than expected, but I survived and saw cool stuff on the way. As I was walking I kept getting annoyed at the all the tourists who kept getting in the way, which made me realize "Wow, I'm actually...Roman now".  Anywho, I showed them around near the Trevi Fountain and Spanish steps. Then took them to my favorite restaurant in Rome "L'Archetto" it's a they have quite literally dozens of sauces for spaghetti. Plus it's cheap for Rome, not like I had to pay (they treated) but still, it's easy on the wallet.

Friday, my parents and grandparents came up to Monte Mario to see the JFRC. They obviously loved the campus as much as I do. We even had lunch with Director Iodice, he is a great guy and I can't thank him enough for all he has done to help myself and my family over the past few weeks. Mensa was actually very good for lunch, which was's usually so-so. Hence, my parents now think I eat well here, little do they know. After all that, we headed downtown on the bus...grandpa really enjoyed that. He was cracking jokes the whole time. I then took them down Via del Corso and to Piazza Navona. But more importantly I introduced them to Giolitti gelato, which is delicious (as all gelato is). But I really like their pastries more than gelato. I was more so excited that I was able to find Giolitti by myself without a map, because the other times I went I was with others and wasn't really paying attention. This weekend really showed just how well I know Rome, even though I don't think I know it that well. As for dinner, we ate at a place near the apartment, they had real good pizza and I also got suppli (which was subpar...c'mon italy)

Saturday my family did their own thing because I had a preplanned day trip to Tivoli for a cooking instructional. It was probably my favorite day trip I have done thus far. First off we didn't have to wake up ridiculously early, and secondly because we got to make pasta and eat it, in addition to other awesome food. Well on the way to Tivoli we stopped at Villa Adriana (Emperor Hadrian's villa). Basically an awesome and HUGE complex of ancient ruins. This dude hated Rome (even though he ruled it) and so he built a huge getaway. It was very well preserved, I even saw a lizard. They make you pay for maps so naturally we kind of got lost when we were inside, kind of freaked out for a bit because that is how every horror movie ever starts. But we found our way out and on to Tivoli. The restaurant was automatically cool right off the bat because it was inside ancient caves. The chefs taught us how to make bow tie, fettucini, and gnocchi. I have to say I am pretty awesome at making pasta, it's also cool because it only takes a few ingredients and then most of the pastas can take any kind of sauce to make TONS of dishes. After a 4 course meal and delicious dessert, we had time to walk around Tivoli. Most of us decided to go to Villa d'este; not sure exactly who built it or when but it has a crap load of fountains and fresco paintings. So whoever built it had a lot of money and free time on their hands, because those gardens were huge.

Finally, Sunday (today). Met my parents after lunch downtown. We had tickets for a tour of the crypts and catacombs. I would have to say the catacombs were my favorite, they go over 100 feet underground and the halls go every which way, without a guide one would surely get lost. Unfortunately they do not allow pictures in the catacombs (or any of the sights we saw today) I definitely did NOT take ANY pictures AT ALL. (sarcasm is pretty thick here). Anywho after the catacombs we saw the San Clemente Church; which is a 12th century church built on top of a 4th century church built on top of a 2nd century church on top of a 1st century church. Yea, exactly. It was pretty epic going down through all the levels. There was even a spring running underneath the bottom level, which clued the ancient people in on the fact that there was multiple levels they forgot about. After that it was on to the "Church of Bones" and old Capuchin monk place (whatever you call those)...basically each crypt is made of a lot of bones, over 4000 monks are displayed. It was kind of creepy but also kind of cool. Another great italian dinner with the family followed...though I had a steak. There was still wine and such involved so it was still very italian.

Grandma and Grandpa leave early tomorrow morning, and then the parents leave on tuesday. It was great to see them, a good way to spilt up the semester and make it a little easier to be away from home for so long. Only 6 weeks left!!! Crap its going by fast!! London in two weeks!!! I want make the best of the time I have left...but I will be happy to go home. It's quite a catch 22.

Sorry if this post seemed rushed and a little business like, I try to make them witty, etc. But I am quite tired....I wanted to post while the topics were fresh in my head. So I'll end it here before I say something you all can hold against me later haha.

Ciao ciao.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

023 - Two post in one day?!?!

Well this will be a shorter-ish I updated not too long ago (sunday I believe).

Monday, I had my first "on-site" class for Art of the Roman world. Granted it did require me waking up slightly earlier than normal to get my butt downtown, a few of us got coffee and cornetti on the way. Our class met at the Vittorio Emanuele II monument; and for those who don't know, the Romans generally hate this building. It is VERY white, and looks like a wedding cake (or typewriter, depending on who you ask). Our professor has to be the most knowledgeable person about ancient Roman art, so it was a pretty awesome lecture. We were taken all around the outside of the Roman Forum and near the Colosseum. So really, I couldn't have asked for a better Monday, no case of the Monday's for this guy. AND my evening class was cancelled, so it was a REALLY good monday.

As for Tuesday, the weather became really nice. We are talking 65 and sunny, maybe a few clouds. So most of us spend the better part of the afternoon out in the courtyard basking in the sun, and maybe doing a little homework.

Wednesday (today), was more of the same. Nice weather, not a lot of homework. And just a generally good day. PLUS it was calcio night!! After the past two weeks being rained out, and one week break because of vacation, we FINALLY got back out on the field nearly a month later. Team Green was back in action, taking on winless Pink. I decided to try a new tactic, instead of wearing out team shirts, I donned my "Buffon" goalie jersey I had purchased a few weeks back. Evidently it worked, as Pink only managed 3 or 4 shots in the first half. The scoring came quite easy for us, 5-0 at the half. However Pink came out with new life in the second half. After two "lucky" goals...they had narrowed the gap. But my squad got it back together and scored a few more times before the time was up. Pink's keeper (SLA Will) managed a last second half field (the field is small) goal. In my defense, the time keeper had just yelled 30 seconds left and I was standing a good 15 feet in front of the goal, in NO position to make a save. Oh well, gotta let them have those goals, make them feel good. In the end, we walked away with an 8-4 win, improving to 3-1 with three weeks to go before playoffs. We have a date with undefeated Lime in 2 weeks. I am half hoping they stay undefeated for when we play them, I love playing spoiler. Other good news, no severe bruises. Did get a little rug burn on my knees from the turf, but eh, that's expected from a goalie. I gotta say I love that they have calcio here. First off it's a huge sport in Italy and secondly I love sports so as I've been saying, its something to look forward to in the middle of each week.

Well I hope you enjoyed reading this post as much as I enjoyed writing it. I gotta say I could be a sports writer or something, as you can see I enjoy giving much detail about calcio. And even though you may not have any idea of what I am talking about, I'm still going to write about's fun, gives me an outlet for stress and whatnot.

Anywho, get to see my parents and other family tomorrow!! Spending a nice long weekend with them in Rome, and also I will be heading to Tivoli on saturday for a cooking instructional. It's gunna be a good weekend, I know it.

022 - Nothin' but pics.

So I know I've been uploading pictures to facebook. But I haven't uploaded any to here like I said I would. So here's a few highlights, my favorites.

Outside of Giolitti (very delicious gelateria/bakery)

So very French. 

Zodiac Overlook on Monte Mario

Herculaneum ruins: A food shop

Lunch near Salerno,  at a fancy pants hotel

On a Roman Bus...I miss the CTA

Obviously Paris

Rome/Vatican from the top of St. Peter's

A view of the JFRC

St. Peter's Square, still had the Christmas stuff up until Febuary

Colosseum at night.

Me, in front of the Gates of Paradise in Firenze

Sunday, March 20, 2011

021 - Benvenuti parenti

Welcome to my mother, 2 aunts, uncle and grandma and grandpa. They arrived this morning to begin their Italian vacation, and of course to see me.

Since my dad was already here, we headed over to the airport bright and early to greet the travelers. There was not a whole lot of time for chit chat as they had to head to the other airport in Rome for their flight to the Amalfi coast to visit my grandpa's birthplace. They'll be back in Rome on Thursday for a handful of days, so I will be doing stuff with them at that time. I'm planning on showing them the good restaurants of Rome, mainly to get a free meal but you know...a guy's gotta eat.

To recap the last few days. Thursday was my "triumphant" return to class...I only had one class, so it was quite the easy day. Then it was the weekend, so really I got an extended Spring Break. Thursday night I went over to the hotel where my dad was, and since it was St. Patty's day we had pre-dinner drinks at the bar and ate dinner at the attached restaurant. It was quite good...spaghetti carbonara and some antipasti.

Friday we headed back to campus, did some laundry (since he had only packed for a few days but ended up having to stay). Had lunch with Vice President Emilio Iodice and a few others. I can't say enough good things about the staff here, they went above and beyond the call of duty and I thank them for that. That afternoon then, my dad and I headed down to the Vatican City (after waiting 40 minutes for the darn bus, I miss the CTA). I showed him the ins and outs of the VC, unfortunately the Pope was busy at the time and could not come to meet us. So we walked along the river for a ways. It was starting to get to be dinner time, so we headed back to campus. There is a very good restaurant not too far from the JFRC and we decided to eat there. Of COURSE I had suppli as my antipasti...(Quite note on suppli: If you don't know, they are fried balls with rice and good stuff on the inside, about the size of a clementine). Mi piace molti suppli! Annd for my main dish I got a pizza with shredded radishes and gorgonzola cheese (YUM).

Saturday, was a day trip to Anzio for a little tour of a few WWII cemeteries. We saw a German and US Cemetery. The US one was a lot bigger, even though it has fewer soldiers buried there. It was a cool site, the weather was great but it's still something to think about; a lot of good men gave their lives to make the world a better place...and what have we done with the opportunities they've given us? Afterwards we  ate a very good 5 course lunch. It was so much food, but it was so good...capped off with Tiramisu for dessert. The last stop of the day was a museum home to the largest collection of WWII era artifacts (Both war items and toys and such from that time period). All in all a really cool day, I learned a lot that I did not know about the fighting in Italy.

I realize that it wasn't the most exciting weekend ever, but then I keep remembering that I'm still IN Italy, so even a boring weekend here is still pretty great.

This coming week will be good, I can feel it...hoping for NO RAIN on wednesday so we can get back out on that calcio field. But I'm really looking forward to spending time with my family this weekend. I am certain I will have exciting things to report on about that.

Only 7 weeks left here! Ahh crap...gotta stop counting down the days. I have a feeling it is going to go fast...I'm not sure how I feel about that.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

020 - Why does the rain always ruin calcio?

Ciao regazzi!

I've been granted my freedom, finally. But more importantly, I've got a clean bill of health (well for the most part.) No infection, I'm not going to be starting a pandemic anytime soon which is great. It has been a real though past two weeks. But I made it, it was quite a test but I think I did alright. I want to thank everyone who had me in their thoughts, couldn't have done it without all of you. My family was a great help too. I know you may all be asking what exactly happened; well it was all such a blur and took a lot out of me so I would rather not get into it now. I think it is best for me to used this experience to become an even more patient person and move on.

Alora, on to bigger and better things.

Intramural calcio was cancelled once again, just like it was before spring break. I wasn't planning on playing, need to get my strength back. But I was looking forward to cheering my team on. Oh well, next week I'll be back out there. It's a lot of fun and its a good way to build bonds with the people here, and everyone likes to be competitive.

Well my dad is still here, and he decided it would not be worth it to fly back just to turn around and fly back on saturday with my mother, grandma and grandpa and aunts and uncle. This brings me to my next point. My family is coming to visit! They get here sunday AM and I'm going to head to the airport and meet them before they fly off to Bari to visit where my grandpa was born. They'll be back in Rome on thursday and I will be able to see them more extensively and show them around, and of course get a few free meals out of it. I am so so excited to see them, for one I don't get to see my mom's side very often and it will be a nice break, not that I don't love my friends here, I do, but I've always held my family dear to me.

Well luckily I didn't miss too much school wise, and I plan to use this weekend to catch up. I am planning on showing Dad around the Vatican on Friday and then on Saturday he is going to be tagging along on a day trip to see some WWII sites near Rome. It will be great, some father son really what they say is true, every cloud has a silver lining. Out of pain, can come happiness.

I will do my best to make up for the blogging I missed, well, I have to do some more interesting stuff first. Which I will. I've still got plenty of time left here in Rome, and I plan to make the best of it. Though my money is running low, there are still low cost ways to have fun.

Well thanks again for reading, I heart all my fans! haha. As always stay classy and ci vediamo dopo!

Monday, March 07, 2011

019 - Well this is ONE way to spend a spring break.

Hello all.

You are probably wondering why you haven’t heard from me in a while. Then again maybe you aren’t, as I said I would be going to Greece. Well I had planned to write a fair well post last Wednesday night, boy did that plan change.

I will spare some of the details otherwise this could become a very long post, and it’s a bit personal and hard to talk about. But I did want to update all my followers on what has been going on, so they need not worry but rather just keep me in their thoughts and prayers.

Now that I may have freaked you out a little I will explain myself.  Wednesday afternoon I started to feel real iffy. I can’t recall if I’ve mentioned before but I have been diagnosed for almost 3 years with ulcerative colitis, a form of IBD. I was having some symptoms of what those in the medical biz like to call a ‘flare’, meaning when the disease rears its ugly head. As the evening went on I was taking a turn towards the worse. I sought some help from Christina one of the student life assistants. And in the process of calling the local clinic to get me an appointment I fainted for the first time in my life. An ambulance was called and I was taken to the hospital. I was told I’d have to stay the night just to be monitored. My parents were called, just so they wouldn’t worry. I’d probably be back the next day. I was wrong.

I was feeling a lot better the next day and into Friday, and after some tests they said if my next blood test was good I’d be sent back to the Rome Center. That was until the results of my chest x-ray came back. Apparently I showed inflammation in my lungs of some kind. Now a quick note about IBD, it can cause inflammation not only in the digestive tract but literally anywhere it seems. Plus the meds I am on are also known to cause weird side effects. Funny thing is that my sister was just in the hospital for a similar inflammation in the lungs situation and it turned out to be nothing of concern. So I am very positive that is the case for me.

So today is Monday, this morning my Dad arrived. This has helped my mood greatly, plus he has been very business like and trying to do what he can to help my cause. They still need to run two more tests, a CT scan and something where they go down and check out the lungs (yikes). The problem is, this is an Italian public hospital. They do everything one at a time, and very slowly. For instance they took blood this morning with the full results coming in Wednesday, just in time for my scheduled CT scan. In talking with the various doctors, it sounds like if we get these tests done, the results will be very quick and I can get out of here soon. They are telling me at the earliest that will be Wednesday. So I’m really praying, but I’m also confident that it’s nothing but a side effect of my meds or scar tissue or something. Because I should also mention I have no other symptoms; no cough, chest pain, congestion. I’m other wise a healthy kid, so that is what is most frustrating.

I am nearly going insane here, if I did not now have access to the internet and movies and if my dad was not here, I would be a lot worse. I should also note that Mike Beazley and Cindy Bomben, two JFRC staff have been incredibly helpful in so many ways; translation, bringing me stuff from my dorm, etc. I cannot thank them enough, I could never possibly fully repay them for all their time an effort. I’m really trying to remain positive in light of this really crappy situation. I’d appreciate all the readers to keep myself and my family in their thoughts and prayers; it’s been a tough situation so far.

So this is a very roundabout way of saying I was not able to go to Greece as planned, but there are really more important things in life. And we are not always in control of what happens. C’est la vie….wait that’s French, and I’m in Italy, so maybe I am going crazy.