Arrivederci Roma!

Departing Rome is such sweet sorrow, can't it wait till morrow. 

Not only did I walk away from this weekend seeing a few of the world's ancient wonders but clearly a bit of poetry knowledge as well! I'm excited to get back to Santander after a glorious weekend but we're entering the month of March. That means 30 days have passed since I boarded a US Airways flight to Madrid. Where has the time gone!?

I took a "Me" day on Saturday. My family is probably screaming at their computer right now but only because they care more about my well being than I evidently do. It was completely necessary to explore the less populated areas of Rome as the city is filled with countless hidden gems. It was also necessary to break away to be certain none of my comrades were lurking over my shoulder, waiting to get that close-up, embarrassing snapchat. 

First things first though... fill my backpack with snacks as St. Peter knows I'd be hungry throughout the day. Seven apples, check! Bag of peanuts, check! Barley puffs (healthiest cereal in Rome, don't judge), check! Especially since those dammed fake centurions jacked my 10€ I had set aside for food that day. 

An hour into the exploration, I had stumbled upon the burial grounds of two legendary European poets. Quick shout out to all of my English teachers over the years for gracing me with the knowledge necessary to truly appreciate the Protestant Cemetery. I was dumbfounded I was only one of five people that day reflecting on the lives of John Keats and Percy Shelley, as well as many other beloved humans. Sure the cemetery was off the beaten path and required a few Advil following the hike but it was breathtaking. The solemness and vibrant greens were incredible. Why @RomeTravel is not directing travelers to this spiritual site is beyond me. I suppose that could be my job.

What's next? Oh yeah, the keyhole to Rome. Another one of those "traveler" attractions off the beaten path. I say "traveler" because all the tourists are busy with the Coliseum and Vatican. Yes, that was me on Thursday and Friday, I admit it. 

Anyway, the keyhole to Rome. In my imagination, the closest real life entrance to Narnia. The destination is two giant green doors on the top of Aventine Hill. Nothing spectacular at first glance but bend over, cover one eye and look through the iron keyhole. Or just put your camera lens up to it. Either works, pick your poison. 

Now take a gander at one of Italy's most mysterious optical wonders. The keyhole is perfectly aligned with the Vatican City's steeple, bordered with an aisle of bright green shrubbery. Essentially, the perfect photo to frame and set on your mantle to commemorate a trip to Rome. Just be prepared to spend 20 minutes or so getting the image just right.

Now I have this fascination with soccer stadiums. Doesn't matter which European city it is, I have to see the local club's venue. Unless of course I'm held up in a bar in Bilbao, but that's another story, seriously. Anyway, the Vatican has a Pope, the Coliseum had Romans but the Stadio Olimpico has Francesco Totti and Miroslav Klose. Yes, I sound like a nerd, I know. For me, it was worth the four mile hike up the not so pretty side of the Tiber river. It was worth it just to see the empty venue that will be lit up with maroon and orange tonight for the Roma/Juventus derby. European stadium's are works of art. The majority need a power wash as I have mentioned before but they're enormous and eye catching. Doesn't matter if you're a sports fan or not.

As much as I didn't intend for the day to be sightseeing escapade, it was up to this point. Next on the list, Trevi Fountain. What a breathtaking piece of Roman architecture. I can only imagine how outstanding it looks without scaffolding and with a filled fountain. Regardless, I tossed my euro coin or two into the empty fountain, casting a wish on its way to the ground. Only time will tell if my wish was or will be granted. 

As much as I would've liked my adventure in Rome to have a storybook ending; the tossing of a wish into Trevi Fountain, I wanted to make one last trek up Aventine Hill. It was nearly desolate earlier in the day, no one would be looking out over the bright Roma skyline at nearly 9 pm. Surely enough, I was pretty much right. I shared the magnificent view with a newly married couple on their honeymoon. Don't ask me how I know that, it's just what I assumed. They didn't speak English but I assisted them in setting off a Chinese love balloon. Again, not sure that's exactly what it's referred to, but a red paper balloon in the shape of a heart. A fire is lit underneath and it's released into the atmosphere. Very romantic yet I don't think they planned on sharing the moment with a young American. Regardless, thank you for letting me partake and not yelling "Basta!" at me as if I was a Gypsy. I appreciated the moment as much as the two of you did. 

UPDATE: This post was written yesterday while I was hovering miles above the Mediterranean Sea. I wanted to mention that this day has ignited my interest in planning one hell of a spring break trip. I say ignited because the thought was always in the back of my head. I'll admit that it's a bit nerve wracking the first day in an unknown city. You begin to wonder how the hell you could maneuver you're way through such an immense place by yourself. Well, after a day, the city doesn't seem so big and isn't nearly as frightening. It's all about confidence. Everything in life is.  

With that being said, I can't wait to sit down and see what I can come up with for a 10 day journey across Europe. I've always thought it would be astonishing to experience the northern lights or hike the Swiss Alps. 

Back to life in Santander with roughly 60 days remaining. I hope the rest of the SIS (Semester in Spain) crew has enjoyed the first 30 days as much as I have. Here's to two more unforgettable months!