Friday, November 25, 2011


A couple of weekends ago my host dad, his brother, and my host brother Ettore took me to Cervinia to go skiing! The Alps are so beautiful and almost magical, there's a reason people always write about them! We stayed at the hotel Mignon in Cervinia-Breuil, a small town on the border of Italy and Switzerland. They speak French there as well as Italian, so I was also able to practise my French. Since we arrived so late on Friday night we couldn't do any skiing than but the next morning we woke up at 7 to go skiing at 8! We put on all our gear, thankfully my host sister Lally's gear fit me, and walked to the first gondola. On our way up I started to feel dizzy and nauseous I was definitely not use to the altitude. The first gondola took us to 2500 meters where the snow just started than we went even higher on a second gondola which went to 3500 meters. I was still pretty dizzy so we stopped for a little bit so I could breathe in the mountain air and take in the amazing view. After a few minutes I started to feel better so we did one run down to the Zermatt, which is in Switzerland! The run was so long at least 3 times the length of one run at blue mountain. On the way down I also got to see the Matterhorn, the very famous, pyramid shaped mountain!
The Matterhorn
We stopped at the chalet in Zermatt and than continued back up on this toe line called the anchor. It's a piece of metal in the shape of an anchor and you stick one side under your but and it pulls you up the mountain. It was hard work because you couldn't really sit on it but you weren't standing either so it was a good work out for your legs. Plus it was really long, it took 15-20 minutes to go down the run but it took 30 minutes to back up it. According to my host dad, at one point all the ski lifts were anchor lines because it was too expensive to build chairlifts. 
After that we did a few more runs that took a really long time to go down because they were so long that everyone stops at different points to catch their breathes! One run took us an hour to go down! When we stopped for lunch I was EXHAUSTED! I have never skied like that in my life. My feet hurt really bad too because I was not use to ski boot and even more so because last year I snowboarded so I was even less use to the ski boots than I would have been if I had skied last year! 

Once we decided to call it a day, it took us over an hour and a half to ski down to the lowest possible point. We also stopped a few times because we were all very tired. I wanted to have my picture taken in front of the Matterhorn too, so we stopped to do that as well.     

Myself in front of the Matterhorn.

That night for diner we went to a very nice french restaurant. Ettore and I shared fondue which was really good. We dipped bread and potatoes into it! For desert I had a cannoli, and it was delicious! When I went back to the hotel I could barely make it up the stairs but thankfully I ran into some Australian guys who gave me a hand! That night I was so tired that I went straight to bed. 
The next morning we did the same thing again only this time Roberto let me ski by myself at a lower altitude while I got use to the different air pressure. Than we met up a couple hours later and went higher where we skied until lunch. After lunch I skied by myself again only this time in Zermatt and it was incredible. It truly is a whole other world up there!We really lucked out on the weekend, it was clear skies and warm weather for the entire weekend! According to Franco, Roberto's brother, It is usually cloudy and windy, but for us there was absolutely nothing, a gorgeous weekend. After skiing in the Alps, Blue Mountain just doesn't have the same appeal. 

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Rome Day 1 & 2

Ciao Tutti,
Day 1
On Friday October 29th, my host mom and I boarded a train. Rome here we come! There were no trains out of the Cremona station that went to Rome, so first we had to take a train to Milan, and then take a different train to Rome. The train to Rome was the fastest train in Italy and we travelled the 650km in just 3 hours. Now that's efficiency. Since we left Cremona at 5:30pm we didn't actually make it to Rome until well after dark at about 9:30pm. We walked to our hotel with our bags in hand but before we could actually get to the hotel we stopped at a restaurant because we were both starving. I had calzone, which if you don't know what that is, it is a pizza folded in half! It was pretty good but a little to greasy for me. Once we got to the hotel, we checked in and then went to our room. The view is absolutely beautiful! But since we were both exhausted we went to bed straight away!

Day 2
On Day 2 Lauretta and I went to all the major touristy places first! The first thing we did was go to the Roman Forum. This was really cool because it is basically a large area of space about the size of 3 to 4 football stadiums just of ancient Roman sites. The forum is where the day to day operations of Rome were carried out. 
Me in front of the Arch of Severus. 
This is the house of Romulus.
This is a part of the Palatine as seen from the
house of Augustus.
After the Forum we walked up to il Palatino (Palatine). The Palatine is a huge, beautiful garden, with some of the oldest archaeological sites in Rome. It is set on top of the hill where Romulus and Remus where supposedly found, and where Romulus later built his kingdom. Archaeologists think that they have discovered the remains of the house of Romulus and that it survived due to the great significance that it had to the people of Rome, who were active in its upkeep for the thousands of years before it was forgotten. Also found on the site of the Palatine was the house of Augustus. It is said, that because the house of Romulus is also on the Palatine hill, Augustus chose to have his house built there as well, to remind the people of the power he had. 

After we left the Palatine, Lauretta and I walked passed the Colosseo (Colosseum), to a pizzeria to have lunch. Than after lunch we went to this beautiful park and laid down in the grass soaking up the sun. The weather was incredible, 20* and sunny, I even got a tan from all the walking we did. After our pisolino (nap), we walked to the Colosseum! Which really is as impressive as it looks in pictures. The line to get into the Colosseum was massive and it would have been at least a 2 hour wait but thankfully for us when we bought our tickets to get in to the Forum and the Palatine, they also allowed us to go into the Colosseum and a lot of other archaeological sites as well.
When we got inside, Lauri confirmed our tours and then we went to walk around by ourselves! The Colosseum really is beautiful and everything people say it is! When you walk in all you see are these massive stone archways, and then all of a sudden you are enveloped into the past where it is just one breath taking view after the next! Even though the Colosseum is not as well preserved as the arena in Verona, not by any stretch of the imagination, the colossal size of the structure alone can take your breathe away. The reason it is not as well preserved is because of the amount of earthquakes and piliging (the removal of goods for the use of new building projects) that the Colosseum has undergone.  Interesting fact,il Colosseo (the Colosseum) is not the original name of structure, original it was named the Flavian Amphitheatre, after the Flavian Emperors. It was only after the erection of the colossal statue of the Emperor Nero standing beside the Colosseum that it adopted the name. Colosseo derives from the Latin word colossus, meaning colossal.
Since Lauretta and I had different tours, Italian for her, English for me, she left with her group 20 minutes before me. As I waited for my tour to begin I sat down on a large, cylindrical, piece of marble laying along the floor, it was a column. I had actually sat on history! When my tour guide finally arrived, I was the only one waiting, so it ended of being just her and I, my own private tour of the Colosseum! She took me up to the third level, where only the tours were allowed and it was amazing. From the third level, looking away from the Colosseum you could also see the Arch of Constantine, the largest arch in Rome. I could also see the entire arena, including the underground level, which I would have been able to see on the tour if not for the massive flooding that flowed through Rome not more than a week before.  Even still the the third level was amazing and my tour guide was great. She told me all about the games, the structure and the history of the place.  Some of things I had already learned from my history course that I had taken last year, but most of it was new, so I learned a lot from the experience! By the end of the tour Lauri and I had already spent almost 4 hours inside the Colosseum. Since we were both tired we decide to call it quits and walk back to the hotel, where we read and relaxed until dinner!
Me inside the Colosseum.

This is a reconstruction of how the seats
would have looked like.

This is a part of what is left of a very
large basilica. One of the largest in
Ancient Rome. 
Arch of Constantine.
Third level view of the Colosseum.

When it was time to go out for dinner we walked along one of the main streets of Rome that was close to our hotel. We decided to eat at an Argentinian food chain restaurant, that I can't remember the name of. My food was very good I had something resembling that of a Canadian stew and Lauri had a pork chop.
After dinner, we went on a city lights tour of Rome. We started at the Arch of Constantine and finished at a archaeological site near our hotel. This I was thankful of because by that time it was 11:00pm and I would have given anything to climb under my sheets and go to bed. Which I did as soon as we got back to our room!

That is the end of Day 2! I will update you on the rest of my trip just as soon as I have more time!
Ciao Tutti,
Amanda ♥