My mum and I found ourselves in the city of carbs next. Our RyanAir flight landed in time to see Saturday turn into Sunday, but required us to take a bus and a taxi to our flat at 2am. We opted for another AirBnb flat and we were happy once again. This flat was a bit further out of the city and the area didn’t feel as safe so we made sure to be home before dark each night, but our tired bodies didn’t oppose too much. I think over the days we learned to appreciate the area more, but I wouldn’t say it was ideal for a tourist; though this saved us a lot of money in the end. We spent Sunday at San Clemente Basilica, San Giovanni Basilica, the Colosseum and the Roman Forum. The churches have been a great way to split up museums and other jam-packed tourist spots. San Clemente was incredibly old and built upon itself time and time again. San Giovanni is the archbasilica and ranks above any other Catholic Church in Rome. The place is quite grand. I haven’t been to Rome in eight years, but I can say that the Colosseum hasn’t changed much. Mum had bigger expectations than the Colosseum was able to fulfill and I will say that the size and grandeur is less than what I remember at thirteen years old. I liked wandering through the Roman Forum, it’s exactly what you expect from the city. The triumphful arches were under renovation of course, but there was plenty to see. In search of a (closed) restaurant, we settled on another called Da Trani and sat on the pavement for fried zucchini flowers stuffed with anchovies and cheese (why have I never had these?), pasta and a pizza. This pizza would be the best pizza we were to have in Rome. And what would Rome be without gelato? We had a scoop of pistachio and a scoop of rum chocolate to put us to bed. Monday morning had us queuing at the Vatican for just shy of three hours. We took the metro and for a few minutes, I could have lifted my legs off the ground and floated, being held by the swarm of bodies around me. You sway with the car and don’t have to hold on. I liked feeling like a sardine right then, I think. After following the Sistine Chapel signs for half an hour through a maze of various rooms, we saw and we left. I remembered hallways of tapestries, but I couldn’t remember the chapel from my prior trip. It’s quite grand, but I don’t know that it was the most impressive thing we saw. We detoured for gelato (mum: hazelnut chocolate and amaretto, me: hazelnut chocolate and black cherry yogurt) at Old Bridge and proceeded to St. Peter’s. The basilica was better than I remembered. It’s absolutely massive. We went to the top of the dome to look down upon Rome. These high viewpoints have become our favourites through each city. The dome was too crowded, but the view was spectacular. Take the stairs, I’d recommend it. Also, it’s a great way to feel less guilty about the gelato. Not that calories count here or anything. We had some more pizza in the evening with a bit of wine at one of those tourist spots because all the recommended places were on siesta. I wouldn’t recommend it. The bus ride home had entertainment, but I cannot tell you what happened because Italian is not my strong suit. I do know that the 25 minutes passed much quicker this time around. We stopped into a small market for wine and biscuits where a sweet Asian woman translated ‘10% off everything’ by discounting a bottle of Limoncello with a calculator. We jumped up and down and went back for more goodies. We would go back again the next day of course and she would be just as excited. I told mum we were meeting my friend in the morning and that we’d have to be out by 7:40am. She griped a bit and I did my best convincing to get her outside the meeting spot a few minutes early. A woman approached us asking if we were waiting for the cooking class. Mum said no. I shook my head yes. Mum said no. I said yes. The lady was very confused. Then mum was confused and in the end, we all got in a van bound for Mazzano to spend a day cooking in a small village of 50 residents. Mazzano was quaint and exactly the place you’d want to be after ten days of travel. We were paired with a couple from Houston, two from Georgia and one from Tel Aviv to create and indulge in a few traditional Italian dishes. We stopped at specialty shops for meats, produce and bread before prepping the ingredients for bruschetta, a yeast-free pizza, artichoke ravioli, and a million other things I’ll write about later. Mum was quite surprised and I’m glad we could celebrate her visit and birthday like that. Also, ending a trip on that note is key. We stopped for a tiramisu (yes this was our dinner, so what?), a cannoli and a last gelato before retiring to our flat for some limoncello (it has digestive benefits after a meal (does a meal of sweets count?), who knew? We used this as an excuse each night.) and wine. We felt our time in Rome disappeared. We didn’t accomplish nearly as much as Paris, but I don’t think that was our goal. We did each city so differently. I remember why I enjoyed Rome so many years ago and I’m happy my wish deposited into the Trevi Fountain was granted. I can only hope the 2 Euro cent coin I threw in this time will bring me back even sooner. We had flights out of Fiumicino Wednesday morning. We took a few buses and split for our terminals. My five weeks remaining is all that separates us; I’ll be home soon enough. It was lovely to have a travel companion to share meals and tour sites with, especially one with similar interests and tastes. This adventure was my favourite thus far and I’m happy we can drink wine and make homemade pasta from Texas while remembering these brief days abroad in the near future. Berlin it is. I’m off to wander. Thanks y’all. More pictures in the next week I hope!