Speak, Pray, Cook – Day 11 (The Running Russian)

Just when I thought God was telling me to slow down a bit, He sends me the “Running Russian.” Okay, so the girl doesn’t actually run, but the new Russian girl who joined our class on Monday had me doing so much walking this afternoon that I feel like I ran a 10K.

After class, she asked if I wanted to go to lunch. Sure. Why not? However, she’s a vegetarian, so we ended up at the same place we ate at on Monday. I couldn’t persuade her to go elsewhere.

She had salad again; I had gnocchi (and a glass of wine).

And yes, I placed my order in Italian!

And yes, I placed my order in Italian!

Then she wanted me to show her where the good shopping was, so we walked up Via del Corso. I made her take a detour down Via dei Condotti, so that I could see the magistral palace of the Order of Malta. You might remember that I saw the magistral villa last weekend. This is the palace, which is where I believe the real work gets down.

Surprisingly, no one asked me to show them my Order of Malta prayer card. :)

Surprisingly, no one asked me to show them my Order of Malta prayer card. 🙂

This street led us to the Spanish Steps, where I played the part of the tired old lady who needed to rest her feet for a bit. (By contrast, my Russian friend is only 18.)

When you sit on the Spanish steps, the apartment John Keats lived (and died) in is just to your left.

When you sit on the Spanish steps, the apartment John Keats lived (and died) in is just to your left.

Then we headed to Villa Borghese. These are gardens north of the city center. They are beautiful and quite extensive. They remind me a bit of the parks in London.

The Villa Borghese or Kensington Park?

The Villa Borghese or Kensington Park?

My young Russian friend preparing to take a photo.

My young Russian friend preparing to take a photo.

We tried to get into the art museum in Villa Borghese, but they were sold out for the day. We bought tickets for 3:00 tomorrow. (I’m trying to convince her we have to go elsewhere for lunch tomorrow.)

Galleria Borghese (I'll be back tomorrow.)

Galleria Borghese (I’ll be back tomorrow.)

Then we walked across the gardens to get to Piazza del Popolo. There’s a really cool view of St. Peter’s from there.

View of St. Peter's from the Villa Borghese gardens overlooking Piazza del Popolo

View of St. Peter’s from the Villa Borghese gardens overlooking Piazza del Popolo

The gardens are situated up on a hill above the piazza. My Russian friend noticed someone’s note on the pavement below us. Surprisingly, she told me she couldn’t translate the Italian. Based on her questions in class, I thought she understood more than me.

"But the truth is that I have found nothing more beautiful than you."

“But the truth is that I have found nothing more beautiful than you.”

Down in the piazza below we visited Santa Maria del Popolo. It’s known for a couple Caravaggio paintings that (of course) you are not allowed to take pictures of, but it’s a beautiful church, not too big and it has a lot of angel statues.

Santa Maria del Popolo

Santa Maria del Popolo

Then we headed back toward school, but not before stopping off at Giolitti’s for gelato! (Amarena and cocco for me this time)

We arrived at school on time for the “Visita Guidata” (guided tour). Since it was all in Italian, I couldn’t understand it all, but I can tell you that she was talking about Marcus Agrippa, and we finished our walk at the Pantheon, which I always forget is actually a basilica now.

Pantheon

Pantheon

If I had more time here, I'd try to go to mass at the Pantheon.

If I had more time here, I’d try to go to mass at the Pantheon.

After my Russian friend and I parted ways, I headed homeward, but stumbled once again upon San Luigi dei Francesi, the French church in Rome. However, this time it was open, so I popped in just for a quick bit to discover they were finishing up the mass. In French, of course.

San Luigi dei Francesi

San Luigi dei Francesi

After some quick grocery shopping to finish off my last few days here, I finally headed home. I hadn’t seen the apartment in about 12 hours. I munched on an apple for dinner and chatted with Marcella (in Italian, thank you very much), who was also eating fruit for dinner. Yep, I’m living like a real Italian woman!

And if that wasn’t proof enough of my authentic Roman experience, my laundry is currently hanging outside on the clothesline!

Hope they dry by morning!

Hope they dry by morning!

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