I See Rome, I See France, It’s Hard to Launder Underpants

Have you ever run out of clean underwear and worn a pair inside-out? Hey, it’s just a question. And no, of course I haven’t done it. In fact, in order to ensure that such a terrible situation would not arise, my dad and I, geniuses that we are, decided to do a load of laundry in the bathtub last night. This in itself wouldn’t be so bad…until you add the fact that it is apparently too humid here for clothes to dry quickly. Meaning, we are currently ironing our clothing in hopes of speed-drying. And as I type this, the iron has just singed a hole in a pair of underwear. Such are the joys of travel.

I’m really not complaining, though, because another joy of travel is seeing…this!

Yes, today we visited the Roman Colosseum – a historical location of bloodlust, mob mentality, and death – and, also, an absolutely magnificent structure epitomizing the warrior culture of Rome.

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We also saw Palatine Hill and the Roman Forum, which are both incredible. While taking a rest at the Forum, I imagined what these areas were like at the peak of the Roman Empire: lavish, over-the-top opulent, and completely awe-inspiring.

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Here, I must make a confession, though – one that goes along with my discussion of traveling styles yesterday. I discovered today that I really, really need a decent amount of sleep (at the very least, 8 hours) in order to take on a city like Rome. Because, today…I fell asleep at the Colosseum. Oh, and also at the Pantheon. For just a little bit! In both places, there were nice benches in a cool area, and I may have nodded off just slightly. I’ve realized that traveling is exciting, enticing, and extremely enjoyable…but also exhausting. And even if I know that I’m the luckiest girl in the world to be here, it’s alright to realize that seeing all the sights might not make me the happiest, and that I can decide on my own, possibly unconventional, traveling style. After all, that’s what this trip is about.

Along with, of course…

More gelato – haven’t broken my streak yet!

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In addition to being delectable, this particular gelato was instrumental in re-energizing me after the exhaustion of touring the first three sites. Luckily, before something embarrassing happened (like deciding to nap on the floor of the Pantheon) I had the good luck to find Cremeria Monteforte, a gelateria well known for cremolati, or sorbets. I decided to try fior di latte, translated “milk cream” by the gelateria, as well as melone, and nocciola (hazelnut).

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The fior di latte was absolutely divine. Imagine the taste of fresh whipped cream – not from a plastic tub or can – but made from whisking heavy whipping cream and just a bit of sugar. The fior di latte epitomized that taste, but in an icier, sorbet-like form. Perfection. The melone turned out to be cantaloupe, and actually had little cantaloupe flecks in the delicious sorbet. Finally, nocciola was an excellent, classical hazelnut.

Later on, after visiting Trevi Fountain,

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(Throwing in the coins – I’m coming back!)

we decided to have dinner at a Chinese restaurant! I know, cue the groans. I’ve heard over and over that, while there are many Chinese restaurants in Italy, none of them are any good. Additionally, I’ve definitely sworn to myself that I would only eat Italian fare in Italy. But…I’ve had this craving recently for Chinese food. I think it’s partly a food craving, but also, an emotional craving.

I’ve eaten Chinese food for almost every single family dinner of my life, so I associate it with home. And, I will admit, I miss home. Even though this trip has been even more amazing than I imagined it would be, I miss, in some ways, the certainty of home – speaking the same language, knowing where the bathrooms are, doing laundry, and of course, family and friends. At the same time, though, I know that not having access to those things liberates me and allows me to see myself, along with figuring out how to make it on my own.

Tonight, though, I wanted that one taste of home, and I got it.

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The food was pretty good, mostly authentic, and just what I needed. Of course, I capped off the evening with dessert – candied bananas!

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This is one of my all-time favorite desserts, and one that I haven’t yet found in the United States. It’s basically a caramelized sugar coating (think candy apples), but slightly thinner, and on bananas. This particular dessert was still hot from the freshly melted sugar, and contained just the right combination of crispy shell to fresh banana.

You know how some people say, “Eat to Live, Don’t Live to Eat?” Well, I personally think that’s greatly undermining the role of food in a person’s life. I’m not saying that it’s good for someone to only look forward to meals, or view food as the sole reason for living. But, food is so much more than physical sustenance. Food brings back memories – good and bad. Food intertwines with culture, sparks passion, creates careers. Food can define life…so, love it, and live it.

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