“You will get to experience the delights of La Citta Eterna. Rome. Eternal City. Did no one read the info packets?” – Ms. Ungermeyer
I finished finals on May 6th and my flight to Rome was on May 8th, so I had a couple days to say goodbye to my friends and get a little more sunburned at the beach. I spent a week in Rome, and it is completely different than I imagined. Movies and songs make people think that Rome is a preserved and mystical city that transports tourist back in time and helps them fall in love with history, but honestly it’s just a city with cool ruins and very-hard-to-walk-on cobblestone streets. I stayed at Dreaming Rome hostel, which I would highly recommend because it was both social and relaxing, and the staff are fantastic. The friends that I made in the hostel were fantastic too and I was able to walk around the city with them and go out with them, so I was never lonely or nervous about what was in store for the day.
Day 1: I spent the first few days with a new friends, and we started at the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill before touring the Colosseum. We then walked to a cat sanctuary and headed over to the Pantheon and to Plaza Navona. For lunch we stopped at a place my host family recommended, called Baffetto, which had great traditional thin crust pizza, and then we got gelato at Grom, a famous gelateria chain. We walked along the main shopping street on our way to Piazza del Popolo, then went to the Spanish Steps to watch the sunset before heading back to the hostel. Day 2: On Sunday, we went to the giant flea market close to the Trastevere district, then went to Santa Maria basilica and got a spaghetti lunch close by. We wandered until we got to Campo de Fiori, stopping at a leather store and bakery along the way. The owner of the leather store spoke incredible english, and when I asked where he was from he said Rome but that he lived in the states for a while. When I told him I was from San Francisco, he opened up about how he had lived by Coit Tower half his life, and then proceeded to take out and proudly put on an old faded giants hat. We talked baseball for almost a half hour before I had to leave and keep walking. The bakery had the best cannolis I’ve ever had, especially the ricotta cheese cannoli. After Campo de Fiori we walked up a hill to watch the sunset, then went to a spaghetti restaurant that had a lady hand rolling the pasta. It was a great day. Day 3: We started at Saint Peters Basilica, then went to the top of the dome to see the city. TOURIST TIP: You can buy vatican museum tickets to skip the line while inside the basilica, so do the basilica first in the morning and then you won’t have to wait in any lines or pay more for a skip the line ticket and tour! As you can guess I went to the vatican museums after the basilica, which were cool but the best part was the Sistine Chapel at the end of the museum maze. I learned about how the chapel was painted in my art history class this semester, so being able to sit and appreciate it was that much better. After I finished the museums, I went to the currently-drained Trevi fountain and threw a coin on the concrete bottom, then went back toward the hostel and stopped at the Lateran Basilica before calling it a day. Day 4: I took a bus tour to Tuscany and a few of the small cities/towns in the area. It included a three course lunch plus wine tasting at a farm, which was incredible, and we even stopped to listen to monks sing in the afternoon. Tuscany is one of the most beautiful regions I’ve ever seen, so I definitely have to go back and spend longer exploring the countryside one of these days… Day 5: At that point in my trip I’d seen everything I’d wanted to, so I had to get creative and find something to do with my day. I went and put my hand in the mouth of truth (super tourist right here), and then went to a garden with some amazing orange trees. I basically just wandered around and went back early to relax and hang out with people. Day 6: Again I had nothing to do so I went to the Villa Borghese park and read my book for a while. I found a zoo tucked away in the back of the park, but zoos are sad places with lonely animals so I didn’t love that. I wandered through the streets of Rome one last time and stopped at Nana Vini for dinner, another recommendation from my host family, which had the best spaghetti dinner in Rome! I went back to the hostel for the last night, and the next day boarded a plane to Austria.
One week in Rome was too much, but 4 days would have been perfect. I enjoyed the city and would love to go back in the far future though! A week by myself helped me learn a little more about how I relate to others and how I can better this world that I live in and travel through, and being alone never ceases to make me happier and more appreciative of those around me. I always like my solitude time, but sometimes I wish I had a partner in crime to make memories with and live a life of adventure with. I don’t mean my parents, because they’re always going to be my travel buddies and we’re the three musketeers of exploring, but I mean somebody my age… I guess that day will come eventually.
Life is an adventure, so keep exploring it!