Climbing the Dome of St. Peter’s Basilica

Giuseppe and I started our morning at Il Piccolo Diavolo with beautiful (and delicious) cappuccinos. It seems no matter where you go in Rome, the coffee is always amazing.

Shortly after finishing our coffees, we met up with Chris and headed to the Vatican to climb the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica.  St. Peter’s Basilica is the burial site of Saint Peter, one of the twelve apostles of Jesus and the first Pope of the Catholic church. Since the fourth century, a church has always been present on this site. Construction for St. Peter’s Basilica (built over the Constantine Basilica) began in 1506 and finished in 1626. The overwhelming vastness and seemingly infinite details of intricacy are evidence of the more than century-long construction period.

Partway up to the roof, you are able to look down into the interior of the basilica. If you look closely at the photo above you should be able to see the people walking around.

The entire climb to the top of the dome is via spiral staircase (unless of course you take the elevator). The staircase becomes steeper and narrower as you ascend and eventually it becomes so narrow that you need a rope to hold your balance and pull yourself up.

The climb itself was definitely an adventure, but I didn’t mind it as I think it allows for more of an appreciation for the ingenious architecture. Plus it’s good exercise and completely worth it for the view.

On the way down, we stopped on the terrace beneath the dome to take more pictures.

When we finally got to ground level, we went into the basilica and then to the level below ground which houses many papal tombs. Out of respect, photos are not allowed.

Before walking back to campus to attend a meeting and classes, we stopped at a shop in St. Peter’s Square to buy rosaries to be blessed at the Pope’s papal address next week.

All in all, climbing to the top of the dome and seeing St. Peter’s in a more complete way than before was incredible and another one of my favorite experiences in Rome. I recommend this to anyone visiting this beautiful city!

Ciao, Emily ❤

Question: What is the most beautiful church or cathedral you’ve been to? 


Lessons Learned In Rome: Part 1

1.) The food is exceptional. (Duh, right?)

The only food flop I’ve had was a tomato and mozzarella sandwich that actually turned out to be a smoked salmon and mozzarella sandwich. That was an awful and unexpected surprise for a vegetarian. And that brings me to lesson number 2.

2.) If you’re at all unsure of what something is, ask.

From my experience, Italians love to answer questions and will usually try to give you the best option. This is especially true in restaurants and pharmacies where the waiter will suggest the best dish or wine on the menu or the pharmacist will offer you the least expensive solution to your sore throat and sleeplessness (which turns out to be Vick’s Medinait). Unlike the pharmacies in the US, pharmacists here have more freedom to offer health advice if you can describe your symptoms well enough. They are even able to write prescriptions.

3.) You will meet people from everywhere.

We’ve been here for  little over a week and we’ve made friends with other American students, plenty of Italians, and students from England. Hopefully this will come in handy if we travel to the UK this semester.

4.) Italians will park wherever their cars will fit.

It’s not uncommon to see cars parked partially on the sidewalk or wedged into a space in some other seemingly impossible way. There’s no way cars in New York would get away with this without a hefty ticket.

5.) 12 oz. is considered a medium drink.

This is good to know when you’re trying to caffeinate yourself in the morning. It’s also good to know that the Italian’s version of American coffee (caffe Americano) is espresso mixed with hot water, not the typical drip coffee that most Americans are familiar with.

Ciao, Emily ❤

Updates From Rome

Ciao! Classes have begun, but that doesn’t mean I’m not getting out to see as much of Rome as possible.

            Altare Della Patria (also known as “The Wedding Cake”)

Construction for the Altare della Patria (Altar of the Fatherland) began in 1885 to commemorate Italian unification and honor Vittorio Emanuele II, Italy’s first king. The building also houses the tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

                                               Castel Sant’Angelo

Construction for Castel Sant’Angelo began in 123AD and finished in  139AD. In its years of existence, the building functioned first as a mausoleum, then became part of the city wall and later was turned into a fortress before it functioned as a papal residence and finally as a barracks and military prison. It is currently a national museum.

Where we’re living in Rome isn’t too far away from Castel Sant’Angelo and we oftentimes pass it on our way to Campo De Fiori or other districts in Rome.

The Ancient Roman Ruins

With construction starting in the 7th century BC, the Roman Forum is the oldest part of the city of Rome. Citizens of the ancient city referred to this space, originally a marketplace, as the Forum Magnum, or simply the Forum. The Forum today is a sprawling ruin of architectural fragments and intermittent archeological excavations.

The ancient ruins has by far been one of my favorite sights in Rome. Would you expect anything less from the girl whose childhood largely consisted of creating “Emily’s Museum” with found items such as rocks, animal bones, bird nests, and glass coke bottles? My “museum” was really just a table displaying all the interesting finds collected over countless walks with my dad covering our 300+ acres of land. I’m admitting this because it makes sense then that I’d find the remnants of the ancient city, and the ability to walk in and around it, so fascinating.

The Colosseum

The Colosseum, originally called the Flavian Amphitheatre, is an elliptical stadium in the center of the city of Rome. It was the largest ever built in the Roman Empire and is considered one of the greatest works of Roman architecture and Roman engineering.

When we went to the Colosseum, it was around 3:30 which is when they close the interior to visitors. Despite not being able to go inside, we still found it to be extremely beautiful and impressive and will definitely be back to check out the rest of the structure.

Emily ❤

Question: Do you find architecture interesting?

By the way, if you want to read more updates from Europe check out Danielle’s blog!

Fontana Di Trevi

So, it’s finally hitting me that I’m actually living in downtown Rome! I feel so blessed to have this opportunity.

Last night a group of us went out to a few bars in Campo Dei Fiori and happily realized that the time change allows us to stay up later without really being too tired. The unfortunate side of that is that we’re waking up in the afternoon here. Classes start tomorrow so we’ll have to get over that pretty quickly.

Once Danielle and I got ready for the day we headed out for breakfast/lunch at a bar a couple blocks away from our building followed by some shopping. It’s Italy’s sale season here so everything is up to 50% off. I didn’t end up getting anything but Danielle got a cute denim jacket for 20€.

At 2:30 this afternoon we met up with some of the students in our program and went on a guided walking tour through Rome. Since Chris, Danielle, and I had already done plenty exploring on our own and had seen most of the points of interest that the tour covered, we stuck with our guide until we made it to the Trevi Fountain (where we threw coins in of course) and then broke off from the group to get some gelato.

We came back from our adventure and napped for a while before heading out to a late dinner. Today was an exciting day, but luckily far less exhausting than the previous two!

Emily ❤

Question: What is your favorite ethnic cuisine? Mine is Italian, so I’m in heaven!

World Traveler

Ciao from Italia! My winter has been full of travels from NYC for New Year’s Eve, to Melbourne Beach and Orlando to visit my grandparents and run the Disney World Half-Marathon, to Rome for the start of a new semester.


On New Year’s Eve I went down to the city to visit Danielle and celebrate the end of a very successful year and the beginning of what promises to be an exciting new chapter.


On the 4th I headed down to Melbourne Beach to spend a week in the beautiful sunshine and run 13.1 miles through Disney World. I’m actually not a huge fan of the “magic” that Disney perpetuates, but I did have a fantastic time running through Magic Kingdom and despite not training, I finished pretty painlessly in about 2:30. (Huge thank you to my grandparents for everything! I love you!)


After being home for just one full day, I headed off to Rome to start the new semester. My parents and I had to leave at 5:00am on Thursday to drive down to New York to pick up my passport and visa from the St. John’s Queens campus before having lunch. After that, they dropped me off at the airport for my 5:30pm flight. I knew a few students on the flight and besides not being able to sleep, the eight hour flight wasn’t too bad. It was about 8:00am when we got to Rome and once Danielle arrived, she, Chris, and I went exploring in our new neighborhood. Without a real plan, we ended up stumbling upon Vatican City which, by the way, is gorgeous. After walking back to our building and having some delicious pizza for dinner, Danielle, Chris, and I went out again with with our friend Giuseppe and his roommate and a few other people we had met. Without a plan once again, we somehow ended up at the Spanish Steps and had a beautiful view of the city at night. We went into Trinita Dei Monti, the church at the top of the steps, to say a prayer for safe travels throughout Europe. On the walk back, we stopped at a restaurant for some gelato and vino before finding our way back home. Accounting for the time change, I had been up for nearly 40 hours by the time my head hit the pillow!

Today we were up early to attend a mandatory orientation (which wasn’t as awful as it sounds), followed by some more free time to explore, followed by an Italian cultural lecture to help us get acquainted with our new city (again, it doesn’t sound too exciting but our lecturer, Gianni, had us laughing the entire time).

So, Rome thus far has been beautiful, delicious, exciting, and exhausting. More pictures and updates to come!

Emily ❤

Question: Have you ever been to Rome? This is my first time in Rome (and Italy for that matter), the only European country I’ve actually ever been to is France!

Successful Semester

After staying in New York for a few days after finals to visit the French Consulate in order to get my visa for studying abroad next semester, I’m finally home for Christmas break! What’s been going on since the last time I posted?

I spent time with the family on Thanksgiving:

I took my first real flying lesson with the dad:

We finally had four months of planning with the Student Affairs committee of Student Government pay off with the commencement of Winter Carnival:

In addition to some amazing faculty, these are the student faces behind the week-long celebration of Winter Carnival. No school does Christmas like St. John’s!

I brought some friends, Greg and Danielle, to the launch party of Concord 51 (the political action committee I interned for throughout the semester) at Doubles Club at the Sherry-Netherland:

With Greg as president and myself as vice president of College Republicans, we had Councilman Eric Ulrich come speak to our organization. He was also recently appointed as chairman for Mitt Romney’s campaign in New York:

Speaking of Mitt Romney, I was able to bring some friends to a breakfast reception at Cipriani co-hosted by Concord 51:

I haven’t mentioned my internship on here very much, but suffice it to say that it was filled with incredible opportunities like meeting George W. Bush and Jon Huntsman:

All in all, the best part of the semester was probably being able to go out with friends or just sit around for hours telling stories and laughing until our bellies hurt:

So, after the busiest semester ever, it’s nice to finally come home to this:

By the way, all my final grades were posted for the semester and I pulled off a 4.0! I believe it was a successful semester to say the least.

Looking to the future, I have two weeks and four days left until the Disney World Half-Marathon… My longest run was 7 1/2 miles last week, but I haven’t had time to really train so it will be interesting to see how it goes. I know I’ll finish, but it definitely won’t be close to a PR. Eh, nobody’s perfect.

In addition to that, I have three weeks and one day until I take off for Roma, Italia! After having zero income all semester and actually spending money to work, the next two weeks will be spent working and attempting to sell my soul on Amazon. I’ll let you know how it works out!

Emily ❤

Happy Thanksgiving!

“No winter lasts forever, no spring skips its turn.” I know Thanksgiving is a day to reflect upon what we’re thankful for, but I honestly reflect on just how blessed I am every day. I have never felt healthier or happier and I don’t take that for granted. I believe sometimes we need to go through periods of adversity in order to appreciate just how much potential our lives hold for personal prosperity.

With that being said, in addition to having my health and happiness I am thankful for all the opportunities life has given me and am beyond thankful for my amazing support system of family and friends. I love you guys!

I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Question: What are you thankful for?