This past weekend I was supposed to go to Florence and take a day trip to Cinque Terre. However, the company that organized it canceled it last minute and my friends and I were, honestly, relieved. It was expensive and it was going to get even more expensive when we got there. Also, it was nice to not have to be rushing around and traveling for one weekend, so we took it as a blessing in disguise and made other plans. My sister studied abroad in Rome when she was in college and when I came to Rome she said that if I ever had the chance to go to Tivoli I should take it. It didn’t take long for us to figure out that Tivoli is where Lizzie McGuire goes in her movie when she is riding around on Paolo’s Vespa and we immediately decided we must go. So Rachel and Jenny, another sorority sister studying in Rome, and I spur-of-the-moment bought train tickets to Tivoli, which is about 90 minutes away.
Immediately we were talking about how we were basically Lizzie McGuire and were living out our 10-year-old selves’ fantasy. All that was missing was a cute Italian boy and a Vespa- I would have settled for just a ride around on a Vespa, no cute boy needed. When we arrived in Tivoli we walked through the quaint town and passed shops, restaurants and an elementary school, which gave the town a very authentic feeling. We then strolled to Villa d’Este, the famous villa with gorgeous gardens, fountains and waterfalls, where the scene from the movie was filmed. We walked through the villa and saw beautiful paintings on the walls and ceilings and even saw the secret entrance the Cardinal had to his secret garden. We hurried through the villa and made our way down to the breathtaking landscapes and views. The fountains and flowers were gorgeous and so elaborate. Whenever I visit historical sights such as this I always wonder how people built and constructed them without modern technology or tools; it truly is perplexing and a testimony to mann’s talent and intelligence. Honestly, I never imagined that a few fountains and some properly-placed daffodils would be so magnificent, but upon arriving at the villa, I realized that it was more than that. There were fountains that looked like masterpieces, so intricately constructed with their statues and flowing water. Purple lilacs and lavender- my two personal favorites- climbed the walls of the villa and filled the air with such a sweet and tranquil scent that I found myself stopping for just an extra second to take a deep breathe and process the beauty that surrounded me.
Finally, we came to the fountain that was made famous by Lizzie McGuire and it was so fun to see something we loved as kids up close and personal. We all pictured Lizzie and Paolo running around and it took us right back to our childhoods. We vowed to watch the movie again later so we could all point and yell that we have been there. We then made our way over to the biggest and most popular fountain and waterfall in the villa. It had large falls and running water over its rocks and flowers. In front of it were still ponds surrounded by yellow tulips. The weather was perfect that day and the sun reflected its rays off of the water creating the most beautiful rainbow in the falling water. After having a photo shoot and putting some flowers in our hair we went back to the adorable town for some dinner.
Rigatoni is my favorite type of pasta and surprisingly not easy to find in a restaurant here, so when I saw that a restaurant we passed offered it, I knew that’s where we had to eat. The food wound up being amazing and by far the best pasta I have had in Italy. We all started with some bruschetta, I had a mixed plate with mushroom, vegetable and tomato bruschetta, and followed it with my all-time favorite food, suppli (rice balls for all of you Italian-Americans). Then came the main course. Rigatoni pasta cooked to al-dente perfection with sauce so fresh and light you knew it had just been made from the ripest tomatoes. So completely stuffed, we finally rolled ourselves out of the restaurant to make it back to the train station, but not without stopping for a Nutella crepe first.
The day had been amazing and we could not wait to get home and go to sleep- Jenny and I were going to Cinque Terre in the morning and had to be at the train station by 6:30 a.m.. However, as perfect as our day was in this majestic place, it did not end so well. Our train back to Rome was delayed for 60 minutes because of problems on the tracks and then it was altogether cancelled. Thinking we were stranded in Tivoli for the night we asked the workers at the station other ways to get home. They told us another train was going to come in 90 minutes and that would take us to the train station in Rome. After waiting 90 minutes and playing multiple rounds of “Heads Up!” on my phone (by far the most fun game you can buy, I highly recommend it) the train finally came and we hopped on. After waiting another 20 minutes on that train we asked again when it would be leaving only to find out that this train wasn’t moving, despite what the first worker had told us, and the real train we needed to get on was coming in five minutes. Finally, after almost two hours of waiting, the train arrived and we made it back to our apartments in one piece. Despite how the day ended, I didn’t let it ruin an amazing day in Lizzie McGuire’s shoes.
“This is what dreams are made of.”- Lizzie McGuire