Unfortunately, my Italian blood grants me hairy arms, but my Irish blood grants be pale skin. Nice combination huh? This is really not that awful, I do tan…it just takes me a bit of time. Luckily for all of us studying here in the Rome program, the temperature has been in the 60s for the past two weeks, and when you sit in the sun on a bella giornata (beautiful day) it feels so warm on your skin. Tomorrow is going to be 75 degrees!
The first and best way to soak up the sun is on the little balcony that my roommates and I have. This porch has plenty of sunlight in the morning, and is great for getting a tan and drying the laundry that we wash by hand…
The next best way is obviously to go to the beach. Italy is pretty much all beach and coastline when you think about it. Some are obviously better than others. I have yet to go, but I hear the beach closest to Rome (Ostia) is really not that great. I had planned on going there during finals week to study, but now maybe not.
Over the course of the semester, my friends and I have taken weekend excursions to hill towns in the surrounding area. So before I talk about the beach (which we’re hitting up now that it’s warm), here’s a bit of what we did in each.
1- Todi—went the first weekend with the entire Rome program. Medieval hill town with supposedly amazing views, but we couldn’t see anything because it was so foggy.
2- Assissi—My friend Chris and I woke up really early one Sunday morning to go for the day. We caught mass in the morning, then just explored the town. At the end of the day we walked up to the highest tower on the castle on the hill. Hills, towns, fog, clouds, mountains all around us. Easily my favorite place in the world.
3- Castello Gandolfo—place where the Pope spends his summers, located on a lake right outside of Rome. Amazing views but very small and really nothing to do, especially because we went when all the restaurants were closed.
4- Viterbo—Medieval town surrounded by modern town. Known for its Terme di Papi (Pope’s Baths). This area has natural hot springs in which you can swim, but the one we went to was organized like a pool. It was sooo relaxing, and we spent three hours just floating in the equivalent of a gigantic hot tub. Most picturesque place I’ve seen…I want to shoot a movie there.
5- Orvieto—Town sitting high above suburbs, surrounded by two layers of a stone wall. Very nice views, so many churches, really pleasant to walk around.
6- Firenze—We went to Florence for a class trip. Though still fun, it was actually my least favorite place (except for Castello Gandolfo). It was nice because it was small, but it was almost too small. Crazy Italian old men were also yelling in the streets at random times for no reason, which was funny but scary. There’s no way I would have learned Italian there…everyone spoke English.
This brings us to where we went this weekend…THE BEACH.
We took a train ride up to Orbetello, an island connected to the mainland of Toscania by a bridge. First we went to the main port, Monte Argentario. It was absolutely beautiful, and the water was so clear, but there weren’t really any beaches (spiagge). So we got directions and took a bus to what we thought was going to be the main beach. The bus driver just told us we were wrong, and didn’t do anything to point us in the right direction. Fortunately, we asked an Italian couple where we could find a beach, and they told us to get off with them at the end of Porto Ercole. So we did, and they took us down a winding road to the second most beautiful place in the world that I’ve been to. It was a little beach with huge boulders, clear blue water, and patches of sand, grass and pebbles here and there. From this little beach (where someone seemed to have a backyard), we could see L’Isolotto (little island). Chris, Arsean and I spent hours there, laying on the beach, just talking, listening to music, climbing on the rocks. The best part was when we went in the water. It was freezing at first, but once you got used to it, it was almost perfect. I’m hoping to go to a place like this during finals week…we’ll see. Ok, I’ve been sitting at this computer too long…time to head to Villa Borghese for some more sun!