Check out my last article about our big day in Venice!
In the late afternoon Italian sun, we arrived at our monastery-turned-luxe-hotel somewhere in the suburbs of Rome. With some time to kill, Dounia and I walked to a nearby park that reminded me of NYC’s Central Park. After walking through an unquestionably picturesque field of flowers, across a local creek, and to a small pond filled with turtles, we decided to head back for the walking tour.
We took a bus into the city center, where Nikos began the traditional introductory walking tour. He pointed out major sites and gave tips on how to get around. He led us through narrow alleys filled with restaurant tables and souvenir tables. We visited the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, and even the Piazza Navona! They all seemed jammed packed with sweaty tourists just like me, desperate for a picture. After splitting up for dinner, we made our own ways back to the hotel for yet another early morning.
We woke up bright and early for a continental breakfast, one of my favorite parts of my days abroad (no joke, I have paragraphs upon paragraphs dedicated to the breakfast quality of each place we stayed). After breakfast, we followed Nikos to a traditional market square where we met an Australian woman and another tour group. We had all signed up for a pasta-making excursion. We were led through a winding apartment building. After so, so, so many stairs, we emerged onto a covered rooftop terrace with an undeniably great view of Rome’s skyline and a few chefs.
A Lesson in Italian Cuisine
After a lesson in the many distinct variations of olive oil (one that leaves me an olive oil prude to this day), we sipped on some white wine and began working on our pasta. We mixed the egg and flour together to create our pasta dough. With a dash of olive oil, we began kneading. I had used too little flour initially and wound up getting dough all over my hands – a trend that continues to this day in all my bread-making endeavors. Nobody heard my cries for flour until a chef spotted me and teased me.
After rolling them into balls, we wrapped them in saran wrap and allowed them to cool. We watched the chefs make traditional marinara sauce in the meantime. Once we received our dough once more, we flattened it out and put them through the pasta maker to make fettuccine. After boiling everyone’s pasta, voila! Lunch was served!
Newsflash: Italy Is Just As Hot As Florida
After lunch, we made our way to the Roman Colosseum. We had to hurry, because we planned to meet the rest of our group there. The pasta excursion had taken longer than expected. We finally arrived out of breath and dripping with sweat. One of the most unexpected things about Europe was that its heat index matched Florida’s. I had always assumed the entirety of Europe was this pristine 70°F garden.
After meeting the group, we waited in one of the Colosseum’s many tunnels, which funneled a very welcome breeze. We met up with a tour guide, who began to talk about the undeniably rich history of this infamous arena. He explained that the reason why the Rome Colosseum was pock-marked was because over the centuries, people had come to steal the valuable metals that were encased in the stone. He also explained that the Colosseum was made of travertine that had been stacked onto itself, held together only by gravity. This explained why the bottom of the Colosseum looked like a maze of ruins: they had been a series of tunnels underneath the floor of the arena to get from side to side.
After noticing a few sun burns (i.e., me), our guide let us put some sunscreen on before we headed to the Rome Forum, which I’ll talk about in my next post!