Italy is pretty much synonymous with amazing food. So far I have not been disappointed in that area--whether it was from an aperitif buffet, a ristorante or even from the local supermercato (super market). The pizza I ate the other day had this flaky crust just like a pie should have. I usually don't like tomatoes, but for some reason they are pretty tasty here. Don't even get me started on the gelato. Even my cereal (it's called Choco Crack, and I think that fits...because I'm addicted) tastes good.
The other night some of my roommates and another girl we met (she's from Eau Claire woot!) found an aperitif for 6 euro. This means we ordered drinks and had an all-you-can-eat buffet with pizza, a rice dish, quiche and fried potatoes among other things. It's an amazing deal in Italy, especially since they don't have that rushed atmosphere. It's perfectly acceptable to order one drink and nurse it the entire night.
The downside to this is the absence of take out or anything to go. Not even their cappuccino or espresso can be made to go, at least in the traditional and local cafes. Instead you have to sit and enjoy it; it's also common to stand at the the counter and drink it, like you might at a bar in the states.
After the aperitivo, we found some gelato--my first in Italy. It was so good, like ice cream but way creamier. I had a combination of cookies 'n' cream and Nutella (hazelnut chocolate). We walked a little ways down to the Piazza Santa Maria to enjoy it like a Roman: slowly.
Besides taking in the local delicacies this weekend, we also went on two free tours. Our tour guide was this funny little Italian, but he had cool stories about each monument, fountain, and building. He kept telling us about all the different layers of Rome--literally, that apartments and the things we see today were built over the theaters, baths, and stadiums of ancient Rome--but also the layers of community and diversity.
Rome is home to the oldest population of Jews. It's also the birthplace of Christianity and home to the Vatican, the center of Roman Catholicism. Before these religions though, the Romans were a pagan people. And all of these traditions blend together in one vibrant landscape. A lot of the buildings combine aspects of each of these traditions. Take the Pantheon: originally a pagan temple, today it's the site of weekly Catholic masses. There are so many examples of this, it makes my English major brain hurt. America is a melting pot sure, but we definitely aren't the first.