Between birthday celebrations and packing for Paris to see Lauren this weekend (!!), editing and sifting through pictures from Italy has been pushed to the side – sorry Italia! I’ll finish eventually je vous promets. My exciting news for this week is that yesterday my I Heart My City: Aix-en-Provence was published by the National Geographic Intelligent Travel blog! Cue tears. But now, cue Roma.
Most of my time in Rome was spent with serious vespa separation anxiety. I would see someone riding through the city – looking super chic – thinking, ” Dang it, that could be me.” Dang it, that was me.
The best part of Rome, for me, was riding a vespa. The best part of being in Rome was that my sister was there too…because maybe or maybe not I followed her high school trip there. She has grown up before my
eyes Skype screen (I left for college when she was ten) but I still take 50 percent credit for how smart, how dedicated, and how caring she is. She’s one of those young people (I recently turned 100 so now I can call people that) who seems ageless with wisdom.
But, ok, Rome. Since it was my first trip to Rome, I had a lot of ground to cover. An overwhelming amount of ground. I am so lucky Jacopo took me to some awesome panoramic views the day before, including the Giardino Degli Aranci, because there is no way I would’ve made it to so many places on my own. Also, with his anecdotes and my shaky iPhone notes, I showed Mary Stuart and her friends some my favorite parts of the tour, playing tour guide and navigator in a city I hardly knew.
I hit the ground running at the Vatican Museum and three hours later decided shuffling through crowds for that long merited pizza…which I prompted spilled down the front of my favorite beige blouse (which just goes to show I am a disaster in every country). On my way to the pizzeria, I stumbled upon some ruins, as one does in Rome, and wandered over to the Pantheon, where I snuck up on Mary Stuart.
Her group had free time for the afternoon, so four high schoolers and I went through the city, climbing the Spanish steps, eating gelato, throwing pennies into the Trevi Fountain scaffolding, and looking at pictures of the Ecstasy of Saint Therese taped up to – you guessed it – scaffolding. Evidently, in the low season Rome is one thing: under construction.
The next day, I attacked the free admission at the Colosseum and went through Palentine Hill with Rick Steves in my ear, quickly realizing that I was completely overwhelmed with tourists and tourist sites. I didn’t want to see those – I wanted to see something beyond a Google image search. I grabbed the bus over to Porta Portese, where there is a massive flea market every weekend, and wandered through booths of knic-knacs and leather purses before ultimately giving up, hopping on the tram, and walking through Trastavere.
Trastavere was the Rome I wanted to see – the Rome I recommend everyone see. Jacopo had driven past it and pointed it out, but walking you see the little things. Flower salesmen. Abandoned cinemas. Dogs drinking from water fountains. I followed the sounds of Italian to a restaurant and refueled on cacio e pepe, bruschetta, and wine – with no need to rush. That was how Italy was supposed to be. That, sitting on the patio listening to the white noise of the Italians talking next to me as they shared plates of gnocchi, ravioli, and pizza.
My nouvelle coloc Hayley’s sister is studying in Rome right now, so we met up and went on my life’s calling: a gelato hunt. We went back over to the Pantheon, past the Trevi scaffolding to the gelato shop where Julia Roberts goes in Eat, Pray, Love. Aaaand this is how I made this my most tourist post ever. But after that honey and whisky gelato, I don’t care.
I hopped on the train early Monday morning to get to my next Italian adventure: Firenze, where the rain was waiting for me. Stay tuned. ♦