Italy | Roman (and Italian) Foods You have to Try

By Andrea Zachrich

Just like many large cities, Rome has some food that is distinctly Roman. Unlike many big cities, everything I tried that was distinctly Roman was delicious, so I thought I would made a list of my favorites. I have also included some Italian foods on this list that you should also try while you’re in Rome or Italy. A lot of these things you can only get in Rome (or they are done the best there), so be on the look out on menus for these items. I don’t have pictures of everything, as I’m not really one to take photos of my meals, but I tried to snag some when I remembered or when it looked particularly delicious.

  • Suppli – THIS IS MY FAVORITE FOOD IN THE WHOLE WORLD. Basically, it’s a ball of risotto rice that’s breaded and fried and it’s bomb. There’s often cheese or meat in the middle. My favorite flavor is just the classic red sauce with cheese, but they come in all kinds of flavors such as cacio e pepe(cheese and pepper). Another variation is called aracini (found in Southern Italy and Sicily), that’s shaped more like teardrop, but is basically the same concept – a fried ball of risotto rice. The picture below is of aracini from Palermo because I ate the suppli too fast everytime to get a picture. It’s usually served as an appetizer or you often find them as snacks in to-go restaurants for around a euro. My Italian friend recommended them to me, and I think I had one just about every day.
  • Cacio e Pepe – a fan favorite for dinner in our study abroad group. This dish can be best described as adult mac ‘n cheese. It’s spaghetti noodles with cheese (usually grana or parmesan) and black pepper mixed with a little bit of the used pasta water to make in more creamy. It sounds simple, but its very good.
  • Gricia – This is cacio e pepe but with meat added – usually pork belly or pork cheek. It’s not as common as cachio e pepe, but I like it more because the meat adds a kind of smoky flavor.
  • Carbonara – very similar to Gricia, but with egg added in the sauce. This is more common on menus and considered distinctly Roman.
  • Amatriciana (fun word to say) – This is another pasta dish similar to the ones described above, but it’s made with a red sauce instead of a cheese sauce. There’s usually pork belly or pork cheek in the sauce (although it often says bacon on menu translations into English).
  • Fried artichokes (carciofi is the Italian word for artichoke) – These are very good. I couldn’t tell you why, but these kind of taste like potato chips, but better.
  • Saltimbocca – I was a little skeptical of this at first, but it grew on me. It’s veal with ham and herbs (usually sage). It can be a little more expensive, but it’s pretty tasty.
  • Pizza – you can’t go to Italy without eating pizza. Many places actually serve pizza by the weight instead of by the piece (it’s awesome and usually a really good deal). As you can tell by the photos below, we ate a lot of pizza!
  • Pasta alla Vongole – If you like clams, this dish is for you. Before I came to Italy, clams weren’t really my favorite. I thought they tasted like you stuck your head in the ocean and opened your mouth. BUT, I really enjoyed vongole whenever I had it in Italy. It’s in-shell clams in a simple garlic sauce tossed with pasta. Best part of about eating it in Italy is that it’s usually not more than a euro more than the rest of the pasta dishes, unlike in the US where clams can get expensive!
  • Charcuterie Board – You cannot go to Italy without eating some meats and cheeses. There’s various different names for this kind of appetizer in Italy, but keep your eyes out for something with a bunch of different meat and cheese names on the menu. Or, go to a salumeria (meat shop), get the ingredients to make your own, and go sit down by the Tiber or another scenic spot and have a picnic.
  • Bruschetta – a classic. Toasted bread with olive oil, salt, and toppings. Often fresh tomatoes or olives. Some restaurants get creative, but I prefer the classics tomato and olive oil.
  • Focaccia – This bread is everything good in life. It’s a flat, simple bread often flavored with herbs and olive oil. The most classic ones will just have olive oil and salt, some have herbs such as rosemary, and some even get more creative and bake olives or cheese into the bread. The best ones have a slightly crispy outside and a soft, fluffy inside.
  • Gelato with panna – well, of course! You probably know what gelato is, but I view it as basically upgraded ice cream. Panna is the Italian version of whip cream, it doesn’t have the pressurized air, so you’re basically getting another scoop of gelato.
  • Tiramisu – If you’ve never tried tiramisu, you’re missing out. It’s ladyfingers that are dipped in coffee and layered with a creamy filling. Good news too – you can make this at home fairly easily!
  • Canolis – This is more of a Sicilian specialty, but I had some delicious ones while in Rome too. I grew up eating canolis. My great-grandma used to make a million little tiny ones for holidays. It’s a shell of dough that’s fried until its crunchy filled with a ricotta cheese and sugar filling. Sicilian ones (which are the ones you want) often dip the shells in chocolate and have sugared orange slices on the filling.
  • Cornetto – This is the Italian version of a French croissant. They’re usually a little less sweet, and can come in more flavors and with more fillings such as marzipan and nutella. When my brother and I visited relatives in Sicily, this is what they served us for breakfast every morning (we were very spoiled) and I think it’s usually viewed as a breakfast food.
  • Granita – picture a slushie, but it’s actually made with real, fresh fruit, and you get a granita. These things are so freaking good. My favorite flavors are strawberry and lemon. I especially like them because they’re not too sweet (with the exception of chocolate, I usually stick to more sour and bitter desserts). In Rome, you’ll usually see them in a spinning slushie machine similar to ones in the US. In Southern Italy (where they’re better, honestly) they scoop them like gelato out of metal containers in a freezer. They’re both delicious, and a nice, cheap treat to cool you down in the Roman summer heat!
  • Cappuccino – Coffee in Italy is amazing. Again, you probably already know what a cappuccino is, but if you don’t, its espresso with steamed milk usually topped with a little foam. You can often find them for under two euros in Rome, but only if you eat at the counter of the bar instead of sitting down (which you should!)
    • SIDE NOTE: Italian servers will correct you if you do not pronounce espresso correctly. It’s es-press-o with a “s” in there, not ex-press-o (no “x”).
  • Crema di Cafe – I think I might have touched on this in an earlier post, but this was my second favorite new food item I found in Rome (with suppli being the first, of course). Picture a really strong and not overly sweet coffee milkshake that’s often so thick you eat with a spoon, yum!

This was the best Crema di Cafe I had in Rome, and it was in a cafe inside a church! Weird.

Go forth and eat lots of good food! There’s amazing food to be found all over Italy, and I had some of the best food I’ve eaten in my life while I was there (and writing this post really made me crave some!). Make sure to try these Roman and Italian dishes while you’re there, because some of these you can’t get in the US (or, at least, I haven’t found them yet)!

Rome | My Favorite Running Route

By Andrea Zachrich

While I haven’t been running nearly as much as I would like to while I’m here (this heat is BRUTAL), I have found some nice runs around our apartment. My personal favorite goes through Piazza Garibaldi, which has amazing views of all of Rome. I had a friend who lives in Rome show me this spot, and I’m so glad he did. Even if you don’t like to run, I still think it’s worth a trip up there both because its free and it has gorgeous #views.

This is around a 5.3 mile run and it takes me about 50ish minutes (depending on how fast I’m moving and how hot it is). There is a water fountain towards the end of the route, so you don’t necessarily have to carry water with you if you don’t want to. I would recommend running in the early morning or, if you’re like me and can’t quite wake up that early, in the evening shortly before dusk in order to catch the coolest times of the day when the sun is also up.

The route starts on the main street in Trastevere (the neighborhood we’ve been living in) just because its easy. It then climbs quite a bit up towards the Piazza using a set of stairs with a face painted on them. This run is kind of hilly (because you obviously would have to run up a hill to have a great view), but its very doable. I’ve done it with other people from the program and we’ve been able to have a conversation while running, so its really not that bad.

After some twists and turns, you arrive at the Piazza. I usually take a break for a minute or two to admire the views and rest after running up the hill. You then then run back down the opposite way you came all the way down to the Tiber river. Next, you would run along the river until you come to the staircase that just passes the starting point on the main street, and go up the staircase and finish the run by heading back to Viade Trastevere.

Views from the Piazza

It’s a simple route, with some great views and cooler air down by the Tiber. If you’re planning on running while you’re abroad, I would definitely look into doing this run. If you want a great view of Rome, then I would recommend visiting Piazza Garibaldi. Happy Running!

Statue at the center of the Piazza

Rome | Mr.100 Tiramisu

By Andrea Zachrich

I adore this little place. It’s right in the heart of Rome near the Pantheon and Piazza Navona (see the map below). My friend Chloe and I stumbled on this place one day by accident while we were out scoping some sales for the start of the summer sales in July, and I’m so glad we did because it is such a creative and cozy restaurant. What caught our eye at first is actually a rotating conveyor belt of tiramisu in the window (we’re easily distracted, I know). This place easily had the best tiramisu I had while in Italy (and I was in Italy for close to 6 weeks).

The black marker is where Mr. 100 Tiramisu is!

On a side note: tiramisu is one of my favorite Italian desserts. I love canolis because my great grandma used to make them for holidays, and I love gelato because it’s the better version of icecream, but I’ve eaten more tiramisu that those two deserts because I worked in a fancy, little Italian restaurant in high school as a salad and desert prep chef. My favorite part of the night was whenever we used up 6 slices of tiramisu, because that meant the container where we prepped it was empty and I could scrape out all the leftover pieces with a spoon and eat it (and there were always leftover pieces, tiramisu can be a hard desert to serve). In short, I’ve eaten a lot of tiramisu in my lifetime, and feel that I am a fair judge of how good it is.

So the only thing they serve here is tiramisu, appetizers, and wine. That’s it. But, they do have 100 different kinds of tiramisu and a fairly large appetizer menu, so you have a lot of options. My personal favorites for tiramisu were the nutella, fig (I love everything with figs though), and classico (the OG tiramisu), but they have a ton of fun flavors. I didn’t try any of the appetizers, but all the cheese plates have great reviews online and look gorgeous. As you can see from the menu, they have tiramisu with nutella, different kinds of candies, fruits, cookies, honey, and even with alcohol! The way the tiramisu works is that the restaurant starts with a base tiramisu (of which they have different kinds depending on what you order) and then they add ingredients while you’re waiting (and watching, which is cool) in order to make it into the tiramisu of your choice.

Sorry, its a bit blurry, but you get the idea.

The atmosphere inside of the restaurant is also very cozy and welcoming. The walls are painted brick and decorated with all the different kinds of wine they serve. The tables are simple, made of wood, and comfortable. The appetizers are served on slabs of wood that add to their charm. The people who worked here were very friendly, and gave us some suggestions when we asked what his favorite kind of tiramisu is.

Chloe with our tiramisu. Here we have caramel and fig, nutella with banana, and cinnamon raisin YUM

The only downside about this place is that it’s almost impossible to try every flavor that’s there because you would have to go everyday for more days that I was in Rome. I can’t remember exactly what it cost, but I do remember thinking it was a little expensive, maybe around 10 euros for three medium slices of tiramisu. But, split with a friend, that’s only 5 euros for a tasty treat (don’t quote me on these prices though). I would go here if you feel like treating yourself, or really have a craving for tiramisu because this is the best I had in Rome and even in Italy.

Denmark | Danish Culture

By Chloe Zgorzelski

The University of Copenhagen is the oldest university and research institution in Denmark. Founded in 1479, it is the second oldest institution for higher education in all of Scandinavia. Today, it boasts a student population of over 38,481.

The university is spread throughout the city across four different campuses, making its presence tangible in every corner of the city. It sponsors ten different museums and research gardens, has given Denmark nine Nobel Laureates, and is comprised of six diverse faculties. Every day I go to class, I pinch myself a little bit because I am so grateful that I have the opportunity to study abroad at a university so distinguished and world-renowned.

One thing that I particularly love about the University of Copenhagen are the courses they offer specifically for exchange students on various topics relating to Danish Culture. These ‘Danish Culture Courses’, as they are lovingly referred to by the university, offer students coursework that combine lectures and excursions together to provide a more wholistic understanding of issues relating to Denmark. While the course topics vary every semester, some of the most frequent subjects include Danish Cinema, Søren Kierkegaard, Nordic Mythology and Danish Architecture. The courses are at BA-level and open to all international students regardless of their field of study.

This semester, I enrolled in the Danish Culture Course entitled “Danish Architecture and Urban Design” with Professor Lars Gemzøe. The course gives an overview of Danish architecture, urban design and planning over the last 100 years, with a focus and emphasis on the human perspective of architecture.

Let me tell you: I love this class. Seriously, I look forward to it each and every week because I can genuinely say that after every lecture I am able to see the city of Copenhagen from a different perspective. I’ve learned that architecture is a major component of the Danish identity, as it is seen as a much wider practice than merely the art of making buildings. Our professor, Lars, is a Danish architect himself. Every week, he spoils us with his years of wisdom relating to the field and he teaches us about the Nordic approach to planning and design of the physical landscape. Because of him, I am beginning to understand why culture, climate, and scale are important elements in the way that architecture as a profession and Nordic welfare states have been dealing with international trends.

My favorite part about this class is that I have the opportunity to go on guided excursions around Denmark with my classmates and my professor. As a student in this course, I am also required to complete various self-guided field trips in order to see and experience the architecture and planning that we discuss in our lectures first hand. This Fall, we took two class trips: the first to the Copenhagen Harbor and Malmö, Sweden and the second to Louisiana, Museum of Modern Art.

Excursion #1 – “Housing & Planning – The Copenhagen Harbor and Malmō, Sweden”
This excursion began with a boat trip through the Copenhagen Harbor, which allowed us to see some of the important buildings like the Opera, the Playhouse and new housing developments along the waterfront. After an hour or so on the water, the boat trip concluded near a new housing district in the North Harbor. My class and I disembarked and followed our Professor on a walking tour of the neighborhood where we were able to take a closer look at the variation in building designs. He showed us this adorable and hidden rooftop park/gym that I am dying to return to. Not only was there an amazing view of the harbor from up here, but there were also trampolines!
We then boarded a private charter bus that escorted us from the North Harbor to Sluseholmen, a new housing development in the outskirts of Copenhagen. Here we were able to see and discuss newer housing and city building. The trip then continued to Sweden where we saw one of the most interesting and newest urban developments in Scandinavia, Bo01, on the Western Harbour in Malmö.  Our professor explained to us how this new city district has a lot to offer on how to deal with climate and sustainability as well as on variation in building design and open spaces. Our excursion concluded with a visit to Jakriborg, a controversial new housing development in Sweden, which looks like it was made in the 17th Century.
Excursion #2 – “Museums & Urban Development: Louisiana, Museum of Modern Art”
Our second excursion took place at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Humlebæk, Denmark, which is about an hour away from Copenhagen. The museum is a fantastic example of architecture from the 1960s with numerous additions over the years. I love the way that it blends in with the landscape and takes full advantage of the views of the surroundings. The museum features panoramic views of Sweden and presents six to ten special exhibitions annually. It also contains a distinguished art collection with over 3,500 works.

I had the opportunity to see all of the museums current exhibitions including: The Moon, Elemental, Color Form Texture, & Men and Masculinity. My favorite of the current exhibits was the one called ‘The Moon’. This exhibition is Louisiana’s way of commemorating the upcoming 50th anniversary of man’s first steps on the moon. Through the presentation of more than 200 works and objects – including Galileo’s moon map and Norman Foster’s plans for 3D-printed moon bases – this exhibition paints a vibrant and diverse portrait of our closet celestial neighbor.

If you are studying abroad at the University of Copenhagen and are considering enrolling in a Danish Culture Course, I would highly recommend it. At UCLA, I am a Psychology and Communications major, so when I first enrolled in the class I assumed that this would just be an interesting course to take to fulfill a GE requirement. However, this course has helped me form a new interest and recognize my passion for architecture and design. Through our lectures and with some guidance from my professor, I am realizing new ways in which psychology and architecture are intertwined and mutually influence one another.

Chloe Zgorzelski studied in Copenhagen, Denmark in 2018:http://eap.ucop.edu/OurPrograms/denmark/Pages/univ_of_copenhagen.aspx

Rome | Best Otaleg in Trastevere

By Andrea Zachrich

Otaleg is what word backwards? I’ll just give you a minute…

GELATO!! Otaleg is easily one of my favorite gelato places in Rome, and certainly my favorite in Trastevere. What I look for in a gelato place are:

The Flavors

Are they unique flavors? Do they have the classics and some new, more creative flavors?

This place has it all! They have more interesting flavors such as mango with chocolate (which was delicious by the way) and classics such as stratiacella (chocolate chip) and fondente (dark chocolate). They would also occasionally change out their more creative flavors, so there was usually something new to try when I went in.

The Price

Is it cheap? Does the gelato place scoop a decent amount for what you pay? (Giolitti, for example, is a little on the high side at 2.80 euros for a small with two flavors, but the scoops they give you are huge and they don’t charge extra for the panna (whip cream)).

Side note: try panna if you get the chance! It’s essentially whip cream without the pressurized air (so like it’s literally whipped cream). It’s delicious and almost like you get another scoop of ice cream on top of your gelato

This place is simple: they charge a euro for a scoop. So two flavors is 2 euro, and 3 flavors is 3 euro, etc. All the scoops are the same size, because they use a little ice cream scooper (which is a little unconventional for a gelato place, but at least it’s standardized). It’s also really tasty, so I think that it’s worth the price!

The Presentation

Is the inside cute? Do they have all the flavors displayed nicely?

I know this is nit-picky, but when you get gelato nearly every day for a month, you have to have some way to distinguish between the places! This place has a modern look, which is different from many of the places in Rome. The flavors are displayed in front of you, and the flavor names are written in Italian and English. While the English is unnecessary (you will learn food names in Italian quickly, trust me), it does make ordering easier because you don’t have to ask (or guess) what all the flavors are.

Cool, modern interior of the gelato shop!

How to get there

This place is very centrally located in Trastevere, and is right by the main church of Santa Maria de Trastevere on Via d. San Cosimato. Here’s a map to help you find it!

Notice how close it is to the main square and the river!

Giolitti will always have my heart, but this place was much closer to our apartments, so it was a good subsitute when my love of Giolitti’s wasn’t strong enough to walk all the way across the city in the summer heat. If you happen to find yourself in Trastevere, and want some gelato, I would definitely recommend this place!

Rome | Ara Pacis

by Andrea Zachrich

The Ara Pacis, also sometimes called the Altar of Augustan Peace, is one of my favorite monuments from ancient Rome. It’s a cunning piece of propaganda by Emperor Augustus, and its excavation story is pretty awesome. Being particularly well-preserved, it can tell modern scholars a lot about the imperial imagery and symbols. It’s also very pleasant to visit because the altar is kept inside of an air-conditioned building next to the Tiber River.

Ancient History

The Ara Pacis was dedicated in 13 BC by Augustus and the senate after his return from three years abroad and completed in 9 BC. Originally, it was in the Campus Martius just outside the official city walls of ancient Rome and on an axis with Augustus’ Mausoleum. The altar was dedicated to the goddess Pax, the Roman goddess of peace. It is made entirely of Italian marble, and it would have been painted in antiquity (the museum had a rendering of what it might have looked like painted). I would suggest googling mock-ups of the paint because it’s gorgeous and there are a bunch of different ones online.

Side note: Almost of the marble reliefs or sculptures from antiquity would have been painted. They look so pristine and white because all the paint has faded off because they’re 2000 years old. Not painting a sculpture is a modern Renaissance concept that attempted to copy artists from antiquity, but these more modern artists failed to realize that these statues were painted, they just don’t have their paint any more. Occasionally, scholars can tell what color something would have been based on microscopic residue of different kinds of materials that would have made different paint colors.

Symbolism/Architecture

The altar is a pretty basic, open air altar surrounded on 4 sides by walls to protect it. The outside of the walls is where Augustus put his most aggressive propaganda because these would have been the areas that the normal citizens would have been able to see (only the elite and those who ran the cult could go inside). The four sides all have different representations of fictional and real people and items that were intended to make the people view Augustus as the savior and peace bringer of Rome.

The front side, which includes the entrance to the altar, includes depictions of Aeneas or Numa and what scholars believe depicts a scene where the shepherd who raised Romulus and Remus finds them. I say that “scholars believe” that this is what was depicted there because most of the panel has been lost. The depiction of Aeneas/Numa shows the main male figure sacrificing a pig. We are unsure which of the figures it is, but I think it’s more convincing that the figure is King Numa – the second king of Rome who is legendary in ancient Rome for bring peace to the city while he was ruler. Aeneas, although an ancestor to the founder of Rome, has no obvious associations with peace. Already on the front of the structure, Augustus has managed to associate himself with powerful men from Rome’s past.

The sides of the Ara Pacis depict real people, although scholars have yet to agree on exactly who is who. Both sides show what is believed to be the dedication procession for the altar. We even have a depiction of Augustus (well, just of his head because the body has been lost). All the figures are wearing Roman togas. There are priests leading the procession, then Augustus, them Marcus Agrippa (Augustus’ best friend and right hand man), and then his family (including women and children). It’s hard to tell exactly who is who beyond Agrippa, but it’s likely that Augustus’s beloved wife, his grandsons, and his sister are included in the line up.

Similar to the front, the back of the monument features two reliefs. The one on the left is of a seated female deity surrounded by symbols of fertility and wealth such as babies and fruit on her lap, sacrificial animals, and other female figures riding a dragon and a bird. The deity could be many goddesses: Pax, Aphrodite, Demeter, or Roma, and the babies could be many babies: Romulus and Remus or maybe Augustus’ two grandsons (whom he was counting on to succeed him before they both died as teenagers). Similar to the front, the other relief is poorly preserved. Many scholars think that it is a seated Roma, sitting on weapons taken from the enemy. This interpretation is based on coins that show a similar image.

Close up of the sides

All around the bottom of the monument is a frieze that depicts acanthus leaves and bunches of grapes. Acanthus leaves in ancient Rome were symbolic of long life or immortality. Grapes were symbolic of fertility and prosperity. Perhaps, by using these plants, Augustus was trying to say that he had brought long-lasting peace to Rome and has made the empire prosperous and wealthy. Also, hidden among the acanthus leaves and grapes, are small depictions of animals. The most famous is a chick escaping from a nest being attacked by a snake, which many scholars believe represent Aeneas escaping from the Trojan war.

The Inside

You can actually walk around inside of the monument, which is very cool. The inside features carved garlands connected by cow skulls. Garlands were used as decorations during celebrations and also symbolize wealth and prosperity. The cow skulls were most likely symbolic of the animal sacrifices the ancient Romans performed as a way to appease their gods. The altar inside is fairly simple, and shows scenes of sacrifice.

Modern History

The first fragments of sculpture from the monument were discovered in the 1600’s and shipped all over Italy, but archeologists did not realize what it was until the late 1800’s when a scholar identified the pieces using information from Augustus’ memoirs. In the early 1900’s, they attempted to excavate it, but it was underneath a Renaissance Piazza and a famous theater, and the excavations were compromising these buildings, so they stopped. Then, for the 2000 year anniversary of the birth of Augustus in 1938, Mussolini decided he wanted to excavate it. The excavation was an extraordinary feat of engineering that involved freezing the ground water to support the buildings above while the Ara Pacis was dug out piece by piece. It was then reassembled where it is now. Originally, Mussolini commissioned a building to be put up around the altar, but by the early 2000’s, it was in poor shape. The American architect Richard Meier (the same guy who designed the Getty Museum in Los Angeles) won the project to rebuild the building. This created some controversy both because he was American and because the building is very modern and does not match with most of the buildings in Rome. The building by Richard Meier is the Ara Pacis’s current home.

You can get a bit of a sense of the building design and altar size in this picture!

Tips for Visiting

Our class went on a Friday evening, and we were the only ones in the museum. When I walked past it a few other times to show friends and my brother the structure, I also saw very few people inside, so I think it’s a safe bet to go whenever you like. It might even be nice to go right in the middle of the day before or after lunch as a way to get out of the sun for a little while. If you don’t want to pay for the ticket, you can see most of the structure through the windows from the outside, and this is how I showed the monument to my brother and my friends who came to visit Rome while I was there. Personally, I would go inside, but I’m also a bit biased because I study the ancient Romans. The Ara Pacis is a fascinating monument with an interesting ancient AND modern history.

Class picture in front of the monument! We got yelled at for standing on the stairs.

Rome | Alla Fratte

By Andrea Zachrich

What is it?

Alla Fratte is a delicious Italian restaurant in the Trastevere neighborhood of Rome. It has incredibly fair prices for the food they serve, has a nice atmosphere, and great service (a rarity in Italy!) We found it by chance one day when we searched something along the lines of “good, cheap restaurants in Trastevere” and this place popped up.

Where is it?

It’s in the Trastevere neighborhood of Rome fairly close to the main church (Santa Maria in Trastevere). If you want to learn more about Trastevere, peep at my post here! I included a screenshot of a google map below so you know exactly where it is.

Here’s the exterior. I swooped this photo off their website, by the way.

It’s the big red dot in the center!

What should you order?

Everything. I did not have one thing there that disappointed in the four times we went, and neither did any of my friends. I especially liked the appetizers – they have great bruschetta and prosciutto and cheeses (check out the picture below). You also can’t go wrong with any of the pizzas. I really enjoyed the gnocchi as well! If you go as a group, they also do group specials. We went as a group of six one time, and started with a pizza as an appetizer, then some pasta, and then a cooked meat platter (it was amazing!) I wish I had pictures of that meal. The group meal was a little more expensive, but the individual items are super reasonable – especially for Rome. I put a couple of photos of the menu below to give you a little bit of idea about prices.

Why should you go there?

As talked about earlier, it’s got amazing food. I also really enjoyed the atmosphere. The outside of the building is covered with ivy, and the inside walls are covered with murals of famous Roman landmarks such as the Spanish steps. It’s got an old school vibe with table cloths on the tables and a tiled floor.

The interior! (I also swooped this off their website).

The service is also very good. They spoke English quite well. We also had a very funny moment with a server there involving one of the friends in my group. The first time we went there for lunch, my friend (for whatever reason) decides to try and speak in Spanish to the server, but he does so in the most gringo accent I’ve ever heard. The server started laughing, and actually starts to mimic my friend’s American accent in Spanish, and had the whole table cracking up. I can definitely appreciate a place that has a good sense of humor (especially when dealing with us silly Americans).

For some reason, this is the only picture I have of the food we ate there. We usually ate it with so much gusto that I would forget to grab a photo until it was mostly eaten.

Prosciutto e mozzarella we split as a table!

The only bummer about this place is that it’s not air conditioned, but don’t hold it against the place. If you go for dinner, and not for lunch, the temperature inside is not too warm because it’s quite a large restaurant.

So, if you have a decent sized group, or are just looking for some good Italian food while you’re in Trastevere, this is a great option! I hope you enjoy!

Denmark | Kronborg Castle

By Chloe Zgorzelski

“To be, or not to be: that is the question” 

  • Hamlet: Act III, Scene I 

These are also the infamous words that prompted my weekend excursion to Kronborg Castle, the location that inspired William Shakespeare’s infamous tragedy Hamlet, Prince of Denmark.  

Kronberg Castle

For those that need a little refresher, Hamlet is the story of the Danish prince Hamlet and his tragic fate. The play opens with Hamlet being summoned home to Denmark and away from his studies in Germany to attend his father’s funeral. Upon his return, he is shocked to learn that his mother, Gertrude, has already remarried to his uncle Claudius, the dead king’s brother. As you can imagine, drama and antics abound throughout the five-act play. Ghosts, Poison, Revenge, Murder, Duels, Quarrels, Love, Loss, Death, and more ensue, yet by the end all of the main characters face their eventual death.  

 

The Castle Courtyard 

Shakespeare’s inspiration for the tragedy was the Danish legendary hero Amled and the majestic castle of Kronborg, which Shakespeare lovingly renames ‘Elsinore’ in the play. It remains a mystery whether or not Shakespeare himself actually visited the castle, but it is doubtless that he heard many stories about the famous castle from his actors who performed here while touring Europe. These actors would be able to relay the gossip and stories of the castle’s decadent court life. Today, Kronborg Castle is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it receives approx. 250,000 visitors annually.  

One of my first weekends in Copenhagen, a group of my fellow UCEAP classmates and I made the trip up to Helsingør to see and explore the castle that served as the inspiration for the Shakespearian play many of us were required to read at some point during our high school careers.  

 

Some of my UCEAP Classmates & I on the Roof of the Castle 

 The castle was beautiful and majestic, just as I expected it to be. It was complete with a giant moatRenaissance architecture, and a picturesque view of Southern Sweden located just across the water. During the summer months, the castle has actors roaming throughout the castle portraying the characters from Hamlet and reenacting the play’s most infamous scenes. We are so lucky to have had the opportunity to quite literally see the scenes from Hamlet that we learned about in our classes in real life in Hamlet’s ‘home’. To me it was a dream come true to see the infamous “To be or not to be” scene performed right in front of my eyes in the Kronborg Castle Ballroom. 

 

 

To be or not to be? 

We were able to explore the inside and the surrounding grounds of the castleclimb the 199 steps to the roof and witness the amazing views of Sweden’s coastline, explore the casemates (dark, cold, and gloomy passages located under the castle), and find the hidden, underground Holger Danske statue.   

Apart from being home to Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Kronborg castle also served as the headquarters for the collection of the Sound Dues (a toll that constituted up to two thirds of Denmark’ state income in the 16th and 17th centuries) for over 400 years. During its heyday in the 1500s, the castle was home to a lavish court life that prospered until a major fire struck the castle in 1629 with which most of the castle’s fortunes faded.  

 

Overall, I had a great time with my classmates at the castle. It was an experience that brought learning to life and many a fond memory from my high school AP Literature Class to mind. This day excursion is definitely worth your time and a must-do when studying abroad in Denmark. It will leave you mesmerized by its beauty and engulfed in the story of the play that’s set here.  

 

Chloe Zgorzelski studied in Copenhagen, Denmark in 2018:http://eap.ucop.edu/OurPrograms/denmark/Pages/univ_of_copenhagen.aspx

Denmark | Puppets, Pastries, and Pools

By Chloe Zgorzelski

Eleven hours of travel and one piece of missing luggage later, I finally touched down in Copenhagen, Denmark on the evening of August 2nd. My first week in this cobblestone city was filled with welcome dinners and first encounters with my new peers, city walks and sightseeing adventures, & afternoons spent exploring my new home away from home.

One of the first things I set out to explore was Kongens Have, the park right across the street from my dorm. While soaking up the warm Scandinavian summer sun and enjoying a picnic lunch, I heard soft, fairytale- like music coming from the opposite corner of the park. Walking over to investigate, I discovered that the noise was coming from most adorable marionet puppet show! Every summer a theatre group called Marionet Teatret puts on free, daily puppet shows in the Kings Garden of Kongens Have for people of all ages and nationalities. The half-hour show I stumbled upon was called “Venner I En Nøddskal” which translates in English to “In a Nutshell”. It featured a squirrel and other woodland creatures and emphasized the necessity of both bravery and boldness in the pursuit of friendship. I really enjoyed this little show, and I appreciated that everyone who stopped to watch was able to understand it and enjoy, despite differences in age, culture, and language.

I also had the opportunity to try a variety of Danish pastries during my first week in Copenhagen. Pizzasnegles, onsdagssnegle, chokoladesnegles, and pølsehorn were just a few that I got to try. My all-time favorite so far has to be the “onsdagssnegle” that I tried from Sankt Peders Bageri, a family-owned pastry shop located in Copenhagen’s Latin Quarter. “Onsdagssnegle” directly translates in English to “Wednesday snail”. It is named this because Sankt Peders, Copenhagen’s oldest bakery, only bakes and serves them on Wednesday mornings. While the name may seem complicated, the pastry is basically just a cinnamon roll covered in either cinnamon sugar or frosting. However, I would argue that this cinnamon roll in particular is the most delicious one I have ever tasted. So, if you need me on a Wednesday morning, you’ll know where to find me.

Also – It is interesting to note that while some pastries in the U.S.A. are commonly referred to as “danishes”, these pastries in Denmark are not called “Danishes” they are simply just pastries.

After walking around the city for a few days, I noticed this really cool shop near my dorm named Posterland and I was excited to go inside and check it out. This store did not disappoint. It is set up similarly to a vinyl record store, but instead of selling music’s greatest hits, the store specializes in one of a kind posters and graphic art. You can find everything here from posters depicting Hans Christian Anderson’s infamous fairytales to giant wall posters of the latest and greatest Danish boy band. This store made me smile, and I really enjoyed sifting through the posters – old and new – and learning a little bit more about Danish culture in this unique way.

Another highlight of my first week was swimming in Copenhagen’s infamous canals. Yes – the same canals and waterways that all of the harbor ships and ferries also share. To my surprise, I found out from some local Danish friends that the water in the canals are actually clean enough and safe enough for people to swim in! During the summer months, this is an extremely common practice for the Danes, as most buildings are not air conditioned (it isn’t necessary due to Denmark’s long, cold winters). When I went, I saw a ton of people laying out on the docks, sunbathing, and enjoying lunch by the waterfront. As long as you watch out for the boats that share the waterways, the canals are a fun way to escape the summer heat and enjoy the afternoon after a long morning of class.

Even though it had only been a week, I was beginning to feel myself fall in love with this city a little bit more and more every day. I love wandering around its cobblestone corridors and next to its dreamy waterways. I feel so instantly at home. The people here are so friendly. I’m loving my classes, the people I am meeting, and the relaxed overall pace of Denmark. I can’t wait to see what’s in store the next few months.

vi ses næste indlæg! xo Chloe

Chloe Zgorzelski studied in Copenhagen, Denmark in 2018:http://eap.ucop.edu/OurPrograms/denmark/Pages/univ_of_copenhagen.aspx

Japan | Tokyo Disney

By DERAN CHAN

During my stay in Japan, I had the chance to visit Tokyo DisneySea! While there are many Disney theme parks around the world, DisneySea exists only in Japan so it was definitely a place I had to visit. Tokyo Disneyland is located adjacent to DisneySea, and shares some of the same rides as Anaheim’s Disneyland such as Space and Splash Mountain. 

It was a 2-hour journey in order to get to DisneySea, which consisted of taking 3 different trains and walking through the entirety of Tokyo Station, one of Japan’s biggest train stations. After getting off at Disney’s Maihama Station, we took the Disney Resort Liner monorail, which took us past Tokyo Disneyland and the resort hotels of DisneySea (which is actually in Chiba Prefecture, not Tokyo!).  

To my surprise, DisneySea was a lot cheaper than any other Disney parks I had been to, with a one-day pass costing only 7400 yen, or about $70 USD. The food was generally cheaper too. Despite going on a Thursday, the park was still very crowded. We waited 100 minutes for Journey to the Center of the Earth, DisneySea’s most well-known ride where guests go on a rollercoaster adventure into the iconic volcano that looms over the park. 

Although we went to the park in mid-November, the park itself was decked out in Christmas decorations and merchandise since Japan does not celebrate Thanksgiving (obviously) or any other holiday in November. It was really cute to see the Christmas performances, and could still feel the “magic” as I walked through the park as Christmas music blasted over the speakers.  

One of my favorite things about DisneySea was seeing how many people dressed up! I saw many parkgoers dressed up as various Disney characters, couples who wore matching outfits (apparently it’s a thing!), and many group costumes too that made me wish I had come coordinated with my friends. However, one thing I DID NOT like was the Nemo & Friends Searider. Disclaimer: If you have suffer from any sort of motion sickness DO NOT get on this ride at all costs. All the riders are put into a moving capsule where you “swim” with Nemo (a video is projected in front of you), and are catapulted through the ocean. This was probably the worst 2 and a half minutes of my life, but besides this ride I had a great time at the park.