I'm sitting in a hostel in Rome right now. This week we started off in Nice, in southern France, then took a train through the Riviera along the Mediterranean to five small towns called the Cinque Terre, and finally headed further south in Italy to Rome.
Nice was hot and filled with French tourists on holiday, but it was really beautiful. We had a cool roommate from Serbia there, and we ate dinner at a French restaurant with accordian music in the background. We also went swimming in the Mediterranean—my first time really swimming in the ocean.
We took a train along the coast to Monterosso, and I was amazed with the hills in the Riviera. It was really beautiful, and it was filled with houses all the way along the journey. When we got to Monterosso, we were scrambling to find somewhere to stay, and after turning down a €70/person/night hotel, we found a €11/person/night camping area. We found out that we had to have a tent there, so we improvised one out of a tarp and cord.
The next day we hiked 10km between the towns, stopping for gelato (Italian ice cream) at each town. Melon (cantaloupe) is my favorite flavor, I think. The hike was beautiful, and we climbed down some rocks to the ocean right before the last town.
We caught an afternoon train to Rome and checked into a really hot hostel without AC in a really hot city. We had some English roommates who kept telling us about "cringing" (crude or shocking) movies. Not the best experience.
Yesterday morning we did laundry and booked hostels and hotels for the rest of the trip, since we're tired of having to worry about that every other day. We're book for all but one place now, which is nice.
We headed to the Vatican in the afternoon, only to discover that yesterday and today (the two days we're in Rome) are the two days in August that the Vatican museum is closed (for the Catholic holiday of the Assumption of Mary). No Sistine Chapel for us. The whole city is shut down today. We did get to see St. Peter's basilica yesterday, though, which was amazing. It's the largest church in the world, and its architecture is absolutely amazing. We climbed up 351 stairs to the cupola (the outside of the dome at the top) and looked out over all of Rome. Nice place they have here.
On the schedule for today: a bunch of old Roman stuff. We're off to Florence tonight, and then Milan on Monday, and Switzerland on Tuesday.