Sunday, December 9, 2012

Facciamo Shopping - Last Weekend in Rome

--Friday, December 7th--

Today was the first day of our last weekend here in Rome. One of the directors of our program is somewhat of a fashionista. Since we had been bugging her all semester about where to find good shopping, she decided to take us on a shopping trip. She was our own personal shopper. And she has wonderful taste. There was supposed to be a group of about 5 or 6 of us, but no body else showed up so it was just Anna (the director), Abbie, Lindsey, and I. We shopped all around central Rome, Via del Corso, and lots of other little streets around there. We stopped halfway through at one of Anna's favorite cafes for hot chocolate. It was by far one of the cutest little cafes I've seen since I've been in Rome. It was sort of a mix of American and European shabby chic. So precious. And the hot chocolate was good too!

stopping by the Spanish Steps to see the Christmas tree

sitting with Santa

hot chocolate at Cafe Ginger

hot chocolate in Cafe Ginger

Cafe Ginger


one of the many trees we saw on our shopping trip with Anna

We took a break in the late afternoon since it was raining and spent some time back at the apartment. Then tonight, we went to get dinner in the Jewish Ghetto.

--Saturday, December 8th--

This morning I got to sleep in, which was a first in a while. I spent the morning chilling, getting a cappuccino, and getting some work done. Today was the day of the Immaculate Conception. It's one of the biggest holidays in Rome: businesses are closed, shops close early, and everyone starts decorating for the holidays. It's the day that officially marks the start of the Christmas season in Italy. One of the big events of the day is the Pope's blessing at Piazza del Spagna. I stood in that packed piazza for over an hour and admittedly didn't even see the Pope. But I heard him speak! It was in Italian, but I understood it! Well, most of it. The idea of the ceremony is that the Pope comes to Piazza del Spanga where there's a statue of the Virgin Mary raised up on a pillar. On the day of the Immaculate Conception and to start the Christmas season in Rome, he goes to the Piazza, gives a speech, give his blessing, and then they put a Christmas wreath on the outstreched hands of the statue of Mary. Really rather a cool tradition. Even though I couldn't see the Pope, I'm glad I went and at least got to hear him! Not to mention, while we were all waiting around for him to get to the Piazza, there was one guy who had a bullhorn and was shouting cheers in Italian. My personal favorites were "VIVA IL PAPA!" to which the crowd responded "VIVA!!" And the other one was sort of a song..."BENEDETTO! *ch ch ch ch* BENEDETTO! *ch ch ch ch*." It really added to the color of the situation, not to mention making standing squished between strangers in 40 degree weather for 20 minutes slightly entertaining. Once I figured out what the cheers were saying I jumped in with everybody else and sang along! 

if you look closely you can see the man with the loudspeaker 

the crowd in Piazza di Spagna, listening to the Pope

After the ceremony, I walked Via del Corso and then met Lindsey and Abbie near Piazza Venezia. Then we walked back up (the very crowded) Via del Corso, to go to Gusto, a restaurant that Anna had shown us on our shopping trip on Friday. Something the Italians are very well known for are their aperativos. An aperativo is where is where you pay a fixed low price to eat basically an appetizer buffet. Ideally, it's supposed to "prep" you for dinner and your night on the town, but because we're cheap college students, we made it our dinner. Gusto itself is a downright adorable little restaurant, tucked to the side of Via del Corso, away from the main hustle and bustle of the street. However, it certainly had a hustle and bustle of its own because it was packed. We had to wait about 15 minutes for a table, which might not seem that big of a deal to those of you in the States, but this was the first time, the first time, we've had to wait for a table here in Italy. Now that's saying something. The food was wonderful. Like I said, aperativo is a buffett of apetizers, so we just had these little plates and ate a bunch of different small dishes and finger foods that were all delicious! 

the tree in Piazza Venezia, the center of Rome

lights on Via del Corso

the lights and giant snowglobe in the shopping mall on Via del Corso


--Sunday, December 9th--

If you remember, my first weekend in Rome I went to the Porta Portense Sunday market. It's one of the biggest markets in Rome and it has miles of great deals, but the market starts at 7 am and only goes until about 12 or 1 pm, so on the weekends we have been in Rome, it's a little difficult to motivate ourselves to get out and about in time to make it to the market. But seeing as it's our last weekend in Rome, we figured we'd go full circle and make it to the market one last time. So we dragged ourselves out of our warm beds this morning and ventured forth. Of course we had to stop for a cappuccino, because sadly we're coming to terms that our cappuccinos are numbered and few and we will miss them dearly. We spent about an hour and a half at the market, walking, shopping, and bargaining. Always good hearty Italian fun. After the market, we went back to one of my favorite restaurants, Novacento, for lunch. I'm almost certain that their Rigatoni alla' Amatriciana is my favorite meal I've had my entire time abroad. So. Good. We spent the rest of the day in the apartment, listening to Christmas music, packing, studying, chatting, watching I'll Be Home for Christmas, and making gingerbread candy cane cookies (courtesy of my friend Beth who brought the candy canes and the cookie mix all the way from the states!) We've only got four full days left, but we've got a lot planned and we're going to try and milk those four days for all that they're worth!


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