Biggest updates tripwise: Lecce and Roma.
So, we find ourselves here with a small week of break. obviously...we must do something. I had kind of wanted to stay around here and chill, but unfortunately the weather looked bad. Friends were going to Sicily, but the last minute planning made a big group impractical so all'improviso...monica and I decide: to Lecce we go!!! Hostelworld, last minute calculations, a packed bag and a 5 am wake up later, we were on the train at 7 am to go down to Lecce, which is in the Puglia region of Italy (the heel of the boot).
We arrive at the station and are picked up by the owners of the B&B we booked. At first-mildly sketchy, but they took us to the little room which was in the centro storico, really beautiful and cool in temperature (it was hot) and super comfy beds, a big kitchen and bathroom. Absolutely glorious, and only a couple minutes from the center!
Bags get dropped off, a change of outfit and we were off! We walked and walked, and Lecce is absolutely beautiful. It's made of limestone, so it glows at night. Everyone goes for their afternoon/early evening passeggiata, so the streets are full of people enjoying gelato and snacks. Our first stop was a bakery where we bought a rustico, which is a puff pastry with mozzarella, beschamel sauce and tomatoes. A recommendatino from a Leccian here in Perugia...it was absolutely delicious. We wanted to keep eating it till we couldn't eat no mo'. We then decided that it would be smart to eat at home (risparmiare some soldi) so we made some soup and tortellini and ate while watching our tiny but perfectly placed (across the bed) tv. We planned our next two days, and basically passed out.
The next morning, up and out the door around 8:30, and off to our next adventure: breakfast, including another local recommendation, pasticcioto. So this monstrosity ended up being a shell in the shape of a boat of a buttery, shortbread but with a little more taste dough, and inside...more pastry custard then should ever be in one location. Half of mine broke and fell on the plate and it sounded like a huge *thump*. Clearly feeling the need to walk it off, we headed out and around Lecce. A BEAUTIFUL city, and it was SO warm out (pictures will soon follow). We had lunch at an osteria which was so good I can't even explain. The best eggplant lasagna/parm thing I have ever had and the BEST panna cotta in the world. The afternoon, we wanted to go to Gallipoli, a city on the Ionian Sea, and basically it's own small island (at least the old center). We arrived two minutes after the train had left...and had already convalidated our tickets. After much discussion, we decided to still go for the small hour and a half we would have had (waste not a ticket). While waiting, we discovered (slash were told) about this old, small roman ampitheatre that almost nobody knows about, and took many a picture. Then we hopped on to Gallipoli which was beautiful. The water was crystal clear, and buildings white washed, it looked like Greece! We stumbled back home, absolutely exhausted and dined on wonderful arancini and pizza and rustici.
Because Lecce is small, we had finished walking around the majority and decided to spend our last day (thursday the...2nd of april) in Otranto, on the Adriatic Sea. It was AMAZING. the water was even blue-er, and it was sunny and hot and awesome. We ate the best bruschetta of our lives along with the best glass of white wine of our lives, and then ate FRIED CALAMARI, which we miss because: Umbria (and therefore Perugia) is landlocked and we don't trust their seafood. We left there around 5:30, and had a couple hours left in Lecce. We then took our 10:30 overnight train (were driven there by our two hosts who are super nice, and if you need to stay in Lecce CALL THEM La Piazzetta B&B), with a 4 am stop in Ancona and arrived in Perugia (after a missed train at Foligno...grr) at 9:40. Then it was off the house, a re-packing of the backpack (which may or may not have included many recycled clothes), quick school meeting and then on the 1:40 train to ROMA!!!!
Arrival in Roma at around 5, quick hop to the subway (it made me SO happy to be on a subway again. I miss you, T) and arrival at the hostel with plenty of time to walk around before Jocelyn arrived. Quick change into more euro-appropriate attire, and then walked off in the direction of the Pope's house! Very impressive, the piazza is really beautiful and very pleasingly designed, with the big columns and the big boulevard leading up to it. I wandered across the bridge and up the river, got a little lost among the side streets and wounded up back by the hostel and hopped into a pasta restaurant where they served me possibly the largest single serving of pasta I have yet to see. Jocelyn then arrived around 10 and we were both so tired, so bedtime was early.
However, up and out by 9:30 on saturday (a delicious breakfast was supplied...they had warm milk in a thermos!!!) and we walked non stop for 13 hours. Our feet HATED us with a firey passion. The pictures I will post will show our travels. We found a cute place to eat at night, and went to bed fairly early because the next day was going to be just as long.
Sidenote: I want to live, actually physically reside in the forum. It was my favorite place by far, and I am dying to move into one of the old houses or just build a fort among the ruins and live there forever. Couldn't believe that the Via Sacra, the only cobblestone street there which is still left, was walked on by Ceasar, Anthony and Cleopatra (and me!!). It was so beautiful. Also: took pictures of a Polish travelling group who all decided my camera skills were good enough, so ended up takign the same picture basically 20 times. They then decided me and Jocelyn deserved kisses to thank us, so after many a cheek-kiss later, they told us if we were every in Poland, we should stop by. Will do.
Sunday we walked around for a less impressive 8 hours (pictures again will show) and we did the Colosseum!! Which I loved, couldn't get over that you could still see the steps that people walked on centuries ago.
Basically: Roma is amazing, and Lecce is amazing. Lecce has a landscape that is insane, olive groves as far as the eye can see, white sand beaches and cliffs, and the perfect place to camp and spend all your time outdoors. Roma is Roma, it's just too great to describe.
Pictures will be added to explain my excitement, as will updates on visiting Ravenna (home of the mosaics!).
Sorry for the lazy-ness. Hopefully it's over!