Last Monday in Italian, I found myself sitting next to my fellow American from Utah. Through a series of secret side conversations in English, I discovered that not only had she found "her" Italian family through the same website I used, she had also been living a block away from me for the last three months. WHY WERE WE ONLY MEETING NOW!?!?! WHY, I SAID!!??? Sorry for yelling. I'll be OK. I think. Anyways, while she will be returning to the States this Thursday, there may be a chance for us to reunite in Infernetto this Spring.
After taking the kiddos to school on Friday, the American Au Pairs hopped in the car (yes, she drives here--really makin' me look bad), from the car to the tram, and from the tram to two separate metro lines. Although I'm told Infernetto really is within the Province of Rome, it certainly doesn't seem that way most days. Eventually, however, we arrived in the Vatican (a state entirely independent of Italy!) We had both been holding off on this particular site and were even more thankful to have a traveling buddy for once!
Come on, St. Peter's, don't be shy...
La Galleria Chiaramonti
The next three pictures are of floors--I really love mosaics! There were far too many beautiful things to see in this place. We must have looked like a bunch of bobble heads.
At about this point in the tour, I felt like part of a massive cattle herd. While undoubtedly an incredible experience and a must-see if ever in Rome, the Vatican is not one I'll feel compelled to repeat in the future.
Rafael was about my age when he left Florence and began this eight-year project in Rome, which spans three fully frescoed rooms.
The famous staircase of the Musei Vaticani.
I will certainly miss this.
It was fabulous being able to share our experiences with each other: the wonderful, the difficult, and the down right bizarre details of Italian life. Especially through the eyes of another young American lady, we were able to connect and understand each other like no one else could. I returned home that afternoon with a pitiful and dwindling voice. Since spending at least half of everyday alone here, I'm a far cry (pun intended) from the teacher vocal chords I'd developed last year. I can no longer talk (or more accurately, shout) for hours on end without losing my voice. Although, this is probably a very good thing for both my own sanity and those around me.
And here we are--Ashley and me in front of St. Peter's Basilica. A massive queue wrapping the entire perimeter of the Piazza and our nanny schedules kept us from entering the church this time; however, I am thankful to still have a few more weeks in which to make another visit.
Later that night the long-anticipated International Evening at the College had finally come. Current course members set up booths promoting their countries and typical cuisines, which resulted in one enormous and delicious potluck. Faculty members and their families (and honorary nannies of course), had only to mingle and enjoy the feast. Below is (surprise, surprise) the USA table, serving favorites like chili and cornbread, apple crisp, and Jack Daniels. So proud.
Having previously acquired a floor plan of the event, Giovanna was determined not to miss the Spanish paella for the second year in a row. We even arrived early and made the rounds, studying the location of each nation (about 50 in all) and mentally preparing a plan of attack.
Once the commandant had given a short welcoming speech, the madness commenced. Gio grabbed my arm and made a beeline for Spain. The paella and Spanish tortilla were delicious of course, but somehow I felt like I was cheating on my Salamancan host madre. You ain't got NOTHING on that saint of a woman!
At times we would separate, saying, "I'll meet you at Belgium!" or "I'm going to Egypt, but I'll be right back" or "Have you seen Greece?" A few of my favorite dishes included Greek spanakopita, hummus and falafel from Saudi Arabia, French brie, moose milk from Canada (much like egg nog), and Belgian tiramisu.
During his speech, the commandant had pointed out what a unique opportunity this evening was, having the ability to enjoy so many cultures, all in one place. He even went so far as to say that it might be the only place on earth where one could experience something like this. Maybe he forgot about the United States...
Virginia and her friends grooving to the College band. You might ask, what type of music does one play for such an eclectic and international audience? American oldies. Weird and wonderful.