I’ve been living in Rome for three weeks now and it is unbelievable how fast time has gone. I’ve had a chance to really explore Rome, but somehow have managed to not see some of the most typical attractions yet. Shockingly, I haven’t explored Vatican City yet or gone inside the Colosseum – two of the things people do in their first few days here. I guess I’ve just been trying to wait until I had a day with absolutely nothing to do so I won’t feel rushed. Those days are hard to come by when you have class in the middle of the day.
My friends on the trip and I have fallen in love with Trastevere. There is a fountain right next to the church Santa Maria in Trastevere where we go to sit, talk, and meet people. We’ve found a small stop for pizza that stays open late at night – for when we’re coming home at 3 a.m., which has happened probably too often. We’ve even found the cheapest beer we could possibly find (a real Italian has pretty much cringed when I mentioned it to him, if that tells you anything) and became obsessed with it.
I’ve memorized the walk to our school, which takes about 30 minutes. I’ve actually been getting around pretty well without getting lost, so that’s a plus! School, thankfully, has been pretty relaxed. Both of my classes center around culture and art of Roman life, from ancient times to present day. They both also involve trips to sites every class period. Yesterday, we went to Palazzo Doria Pamphilj, a private art collection located in a palace in central Rome with works by Caravaggio and other famous artists. We also saw the monastery where Michelangelo died in Rome (though his body was later taken and buried in Florence). Then we saw the church in which St. James and St. Phillip were buried. That’s a lot of amazing history for just one day of class.
All in all, though, I’ve learned the most about Italian culture by simply living in it. Experiencing the “riposo” time during the day when shops close and people take a break. Seeing families and children playing at the park right outside of our apartment. Watching Italian couples start dinner at 8 and sit there for three hours, just enjoying each other’s company and not feeling a rush to go anywhere. Then having an entirely different feeling when you walk into the center of Rome and feel the rush and energy of the busy city. The way Italians walk, drive (scary), speak and interact with one another is all so different from what I am used to. But I have grown accustomed to it somewhat, and have begun to appreciate their get-straight-to-the-point attitude.
This past weekend, I went on a weekend trip with 7 other friends down south to Sorrento, where we stayed (unexpectedly) in two trailers right by the Italian coastline. These trailers weren’t exactly what we were expecting (we were expecting typical hostels), but they turned out to be a great surprise. We were practically camping out at the beach, just like an Italian family “getting away” and going to the beach in their RV for the weekend. There was no cell service, no wifi, and very few places to get food or drinks. It was a true escape from the city and barely felt like we were in the same country. We took a day trip on a ferry to the island of Capri, where we each pitched in and got a boat to take us around the island. We stopped at various cliffs and caves, which were all beautiful. We got to jump in and go swimming in the caves with goggles and water so clear you could see for days. It was probably my favorite day in Italy so far. If you ever go to Capri, get a boat – it is a must.
Tomorrow, I plan on going to the Vatican super early in the morning with my friend Amy to see the Pope address the public and then to go to St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museum. I am extremely excited to see this place full of so much history and significance.
I have begun to feel like Rome is a home away from home. It feels familiar yet still manages to surprise me everyday. Ciao for now!