PART 1: update
well, here we are, in firenze! gotta tellya: it's beautiful here. we took the train here from roma yesterday, and got to see a bit of the countryside - tobacco fields and vineyards, villas and mountains. we might not want to leave here...
our, um, accomodations are not quite what we expected. turns out it's, like, the italian version of a koa. think: "dirty dancing" meets Bible camp meets [insert name of local mall arcade here] meets gorgeous mountainous views and amazing coffee in the middle of nowhere. pretty bizarre. and our "room"? half a pop-up camper with twin-size bunkbeds and a bathroom in the closet. last night, it was so cold we squeezed together onto one teeny bed for warmth. :) very romantical.
it was also quite a trek out to our place. the travel agent gave the impression that it was just a shuttle ride away from florence. in reality, it's a shuttle ride (one at 8,40am and one at 6,40pm) and a 20-minute train ride/ticket purchase from florence. we're a bit frustrated at the lack of convenience, but we are getting to experience more of the toscana countryside than we expected to see! we are considering booking a hotel in the city tonight and not going back to our camper until tomorrow night. we'll see how much fun we're having here.
PART 2: editorial
(Our pictures won't upload! Check out the Pantheon: http://i74.photobucket.com/albums/i247/amyandryangarv/IMG_0876.jpg and us in front of Trevi Fountain, both at night: http://i74.photobucket.com/albums/i247/amyandryangarv/IMG_0889.jpg)
turns out we were both really disappointed with the pantheon in rome. what it used to be: the name means "temple of all the gods", and the place was sort of like a religious food court. it was one-stop shopping for the romans; one location, altars to all the gods. knowing this, i was expecting, of course, to see lots of cool mythological stuff (my favorite stories that we read in our latin classes were the ones about the roman gods - what characters!).
what we found? reliefs of the holy mother and child, saints with halos. apparently, at the beginning of the middle ages, the christians came in and tore out all the "offensive" multiple gods and replaced them with multiple saints. ironic? so now, instead of it being called what it is, it's called the basilica of santa maria and the martyrs. disappointing. oh, and while we were there, some guy was vacuuming the carpet they put in for their church services.
the architecture, however, was still pretty amazing. and there's a mcdonald's straight in front of it. we didn't eat there.
thank you to all who have commented! it's been so fun to share this with you!