Sunday, October 16, 2011

Run 4 Food

October 16, 2011

Today I had the opportunity to participate in the Run For Food, which is sponsored by the United Nations Agencies for Food and Agriculture. As part of the day, I was able to meet with the US Ambassador to the UNAFA, Ertharin Cousin. She is a fellow Chicagoan and has close ties with President Obama. She had people over to her house following the race for an American themed BBQ that was delicious. Being able to eat brats, hamburgers and actual potato chips was a great change of pace from pasta and pizza. We were able to take pictures with Miguel Diaz who is US Ambassador to the Vatican. Carl Lewis was also at the race to hand out trophies so overall, it was a day of important people and delicious food on a beautiful fall day in Rome.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


October 5, 2011

This past weekend was spent in Naples, which is in southern Italy. The city is exceptionally dirty and is known for pick-pockets but I had a good time nonetheless and made it back to Rome with my wallet. Naples is best known for its pizza which is definitely as good as advertised. I hated to admit it was better than Chicago, but everyone owes it himself to go to Naples for some pizza at some point. The next day we woke up bright and early to take a ferry to the island of Capri. It is definitely one of the most beautiful places on the planet and swimming in the ocean on October 1 was a treat for this Chicagoan. Staying at a hostel we met people from all over the world, mostly Germany, France, Australia, and the UK. I even had a long chat with a local Neapolitan who was wearing a White Sox jersey and loved American sports. Again, I gave in and had a Big Mac right before we took a train back home.
Celebrating my 22nd birthday in Rome was definitely a treat. Some old friends and a lot of new friends went out of their way to make it a special day for me with cards, cakes and candy and it is definitely a birthday I will never forget. Rome still has shorts and flip flops weather so all is good in Italia.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Papal Audience

September 28, 2011

Woke up bright and early this morning to trek down to the Vatican to join a huge crowd for an audience with Pope Benedict. It was awesome to be that close to such an important figure and to be in the midst of people from all around the world coming to celebrate their faith. He spoke for a few minutes in 7 different languages and offered a blessing for all of us. He drove around before hand in his sporty Mercedes Pope mobile and waved to the crowds. Definitely one of the highlights so far.

This weekend it's off to Naples where hopefully I will visit Pompeii and the famous Mt. Vesuvius. Also trying to spend some time on Capri and do one last beach day before fall weather comes to Italy. Southern Italy is supposed to be very different so I am excited to see how it compares to Rome and Florence.

Monday, September 19, 2011


September 19, 2011

 Woke up around 4:45 Saturday morning to catch a 4 hour train ride to the city of Florence. Despite the lack of sleep, I went out and explored the city all day. The highlight was definitely the Duomo, a beautifully decorated cathedral that is the centerpiece of the city. I was lucky enough to attend Mass there on Sunday and the inside of the dome is incredible with the detailed artwork it has. With less than 36 hours in the city, it was difficult to see everything there is to see, such as the statue of David and the famous sites of Michelangelo but it was interesting to walk through bustling markets and over the river at night time to see the city lit up and to enjoy the night life with both locals and fellow Americans. The food for the most part was delicious but I did break down and make my first trip to McDonald's since being in Italy. All in all, it was a very enjoyable trip and  I would go back in a heart beat. The long rides on uncomfortable trains was the only downside, but it was well worth it.  

Monday, September 12, 2011


September 12, 2011

Took the show on the road this past weekend to the region of Umbria. Visited the cities of Todi, Spoleto and Perugia. Definitely some of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen as Umbria is a very hilly region and most of the towns are elevated and overlook green valleys with hills in the distance. Todi is a great little town with a lot of history and there are many shops that line the streets and old churches; definitely a place I would love to live. We took a day trip to the town of Gubbio that has a lot of medieval history and I enjoyed my first dish of authentic gelato and needless to say, it was unbelievable. Stayed in a very nice hotel in Spoleto where we had two nights to explore and enjoy the local culture. Met a lot of locals around my age who had nothing but good things to say about the US and wanted to know all about our culture. We toured an olive oil factory near Foligno and enjoyed a wine tasting in Perugia before heading back to Rome. Each meal on the trip was a 3 course meal and I don't think I have ever eaten so well or so much. From lasagna to chocolate cake to roast chicken and pork, everything here is absolutely delicious. Attended a very moving ceremony in remembrance of 9/11 to end the weekend and now it's on to more adventure!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Lazy Day at the Beach

September 4, 2011

Spent the majority of the day lounging around a nearby beach and swimming in the Mediterranean. Awesome way to relax and I had my first experience with authentic Italian pizza. It was molto bene and now I just need to get some real gelato before coming home. All the stereotypes about European beaches and the people there are true as it is very laid back and quite different from back home. Yesterday was a great day as I explored the old Roman Forum where so much of the historic events we learn about took place. Then it was on to the Colosseum which is magnificent. Very cool to see where thousands of people use to come daily to be entertained by gladiators and plays. Traveling to another region in Italy next weekend to do some sight seeing and other fun stuff.

Friday, September 2, 2011

First post from Rome

September 2, 2011

After an initial scare, I was able to revive the blog and continue posting. The flight to Rome was rather long and uncomfortable so I did not get to sleep very much. However, reaching Rome brought about a sense of excitement and after a bus ride to campus, I was ready to dig in. The drive took us through some scenic countryside and eventually through city streets to the outskirts of town in a hilly neighborhood called Monte Mario. The first few days on campus have been full of orientation meetings and paperwork but I have found time for fun as well. Last night was an hour long walk to the Vatican where I walked around St. Peter's Square with some friends. Quite an amazing experience to be in the presence of so much history and to be in the same spot where millions have been before. After that, I walked across the Tiber River and settled in at a famous plaza that was teeming with activity. I ended the night with my first fist-pumping trip to a discoteca but got lost on the walk home and had to take a taxi (Italian drivers are nuts!). Tomorrow we will be checking out the Colosseum and the Roman Forum which will definitely be a highlight of the trip. So far, I am loving the experience but school is on the horizon. Hopefully the semester goes smoothly.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Arrivederci, Chicago. Ciao Roma!

August 28, 2011

It's finally under 48 hours until I begin an exciting chapter of my life in Rome, Italy. Very excited at this point but also a bit nervous about such a big transition. Hopefully the traveling goes smoothly and we get to Italy in one piece. Mixed emotions as I am eager to see what lies in store in the coming months but it's always difficult to leave the love and support of great family and friends. It should be an amazing experience and I am thankful to have the opportunity.