Saturday, 13 July 2019

Italy: Day 5 | Vatican City and the Baths of Caracalla

Welcome to the last post in my Italy series! Click here to read the previous post.

On Thursday morning we visited the Vatican City. We had already booked tickets online, which included skip-the-line access to the Vatican museums and the Sistine Chapel. Skip-the-line access is a must because the lines are hours long otherwise.

When we hopped off the tram, we were immediately accosted by some dude in a hat with a map, so basically Dora the Explorer but male. He immediately told us he wasn't going to sell us anything and he just wanted to show us where to go, so, like, fine. And then he somehow tricked Alex into upgrading our tickets for €79 so that we could go on a guided tour, with skip-the-line access... I kept telling them we already had that but no one listens to me. I could've just thrown €79 down the shitter, it would've been quicker, but hey ho! Moral of the story: just walk away. Don't even enter into a conversation because that's how they trap you. Rome is FULL of people like this - more so, I would say, than London, or Paris, or any other big cities I've visited. Just walk away.
Saturday, 6 July 2019

Italy: Days 3 & 4 | Climbing Mount Vesuvius and Taking an Authentic Pizza Class

Welcome back to my series of posts from Italy! Click here to read the first post.

On Tuesday we got the train to Naples, before getting a coach to a little way up Mount Vesuvius, mainland Europe's only active volcano. Guys, it was terrifying. We had to reverse down the mountain whenever another coach came towards us. BUT ANYWAY.

Climbing Mount Vesuvius is physically the hardest thing I've ever done. It was burning hot with no shade, I only had a little water left, and the climb was much steeper than I had anticipated. Plus, you're not just walking on concrete, you're trudging through ash for a solid 30-40 minutes.

The views were worth it though, even if I did have to keep stopping to die a little bit.

That's the crater! Once we got down, I immediately purchased an ice cream. If you can't have an ice cream after climbing a volcano, when can you?

Back in Rome, we did a couple of little bits we wanted to see, like the Trevi fountain and the Spanish Steps, before heading back to the house.

My god, the pickpockets were in full force here, as expected. Immediately after taking these photographs, we actually got chased away by some random dude who I very nearly told to fuck off. Storytime: in tourist-y places around Rome, you'll get men holding lots and lots of roses to give to 'beautiful girls' aka tourists they know they can trap into giving them money. Lo and behold, one of them came up to me and tried to shove three roses into my bag. Rather convenient, innit, that he wanted to put them very close to my phone and purse rather than, y'know, hand them to me. In the end, he did end up handing them to me because I pushed his hand away from my bag. He was like, you're a beautiful girl, it's a gift, it's a gift! *turns to Alex* Three euro. You want your girlfriend to have flowers, yes? YOU WANT HER TO HAVE ROSES. THREE EURO.

Chill out, bro.

So we told him we had no money. Obviously we did have money, but we're not stupid. I genuinely had to tell him this twelve times. So instead of asking for three euros, he asked for 'just a little something'. Dude, what part of no do you not understand? Then he literally reached around to Alex's back pockets (aka his actual BUM) to try and find his wallet. Da fuq?! All the while, I was trying to put the roses back in his hand but he was refusing to take them. In the end I said, look, I don't want these, I'm going to put these over here and we're going to leave. I walked a short distance and put the roses on a ledge, and we started to walk off ONLY FOR THE DUDE TO RUN AFTER US FOR AN UNCOMFORTABLE AMOUNT OF TIME.

Actually stressful. Oh, I forgot, before he started asking for money he asked if we wanted him to take our photo on Alex's iPhone. I very firmly said no thank you THREE TIMES and he took offence. I'm not going to take your phone! Okay but if you have to tell someone you're not going to steal something, you probably are.

Ugh, right, rant over. Pillock.

Wednesday! Wednesday was very chilled. We had booked an authentic pizza-making class at a restaurant, where we were in a group with six other people. We were given snazzy aprons and chef hats, and we got to make pizza from scratch, the proper way. It was really fun, our guide was funny and my pizza was delicious. I definitely recommend doing something like this, because it covers lunch or dinner, and it gets you out of the sun for a while. You can also do pasta-making classes!

After that, we visited the Torre Argentina Cat Sanctuary. After the excavation of some temple ruins, 150 feral cats took over and began to be fed by the locals. Obviously, with that kind of luxury treatment, they never left - and now it's a cat sanctuary! It's free to enter, but you can make donations, buy small items in the gift shop to support them, or you can even 'distance adopt' a cat to support its upkeep. I got to stroke so many cats! And look at this highly accurate graffiti!

Our next stop was the MAXXI architecture museum, mainly to see Paola Pivi's installation called 'World Record' - a gigantic mattress sandwich (yep, basically) which forces the audience to lie down, crawl about, and be playful. It was very comfy (and the rest of the museum was cool too.)

Check back next Saturday to see our trip to the Vatican City!

Saturday, 29 June 2019

Italy: Days 1 & 2 | Visiting the Colosseum and the Leaning Tower of Pisa

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A couple of weeks ago I visited Italy for the first time! Our trip was from Sunday to Friday, and we stayed in an AirBnB in Rome for the whole week. However, we also had two day trips in which we visited Pisa and Naples.

I've actually never holidayed in a warm country. I went to Paris last summer but that was only for 3 days including travel. This was a whole other ballgame, as I soon found out...