My final trip while still technically living in Spain took place at the end of May in one of the most historically rich cities in the world: Rome. While I was excited to explore the ruins, I was equally excited to see one of my closest friends from back home, Preksha. I hadn’t seen her (or any of my good friends, for that matter) in five months, so it was a very welcome reunion.
We exchanged stories about our adventures (she had been studying in Cortona) and while many months had passed, it didn’t feel like anything had changed, really. Cliché, I know. But she’s one of those friends with whom you can pick right back up where you left off. She met me at Termini Station and needless to say, many hugs ensued. So the adventure in Roma began.
While meeting with our AirBnb host didn’t go as smoothly as it should have (working payphones in Termini station are few and far between), the apartment itself was wonderful, as was our host. It was our first experience with the system and we have nothing but positive things to say about it! It’s a good thing we weren’t too close to the centre of town because the walks to and from the metro were critical in burning off the copious calories we consumed via pizza, pasta, and gelato. I don’t think there was a day we didn’t eat all three of those. It was just a matter of whether we wanted pizza for lunch and pasta for dinner or vice versa. You’d think we’d get tired of it, but nope. It was basically culinary heaven.
Over the five days we were there, we visited pretty much all of the main attractions: The Colosseum, Roman Forum, Pantheon, Trevi Fountain (under construction therefore disappointing), Spanish Steps, and the Vatican. As you might imagine, we became experts at waiting in line. I took a Roman classics course in my first year of university, so I thought I might remember something about these historic sites, but clearly I should have paid more attention. Still, it was neat to stand in the Colosseum picturing gladiators fighting to their death centuries ago. We missed out on the Pope, or P-Fran, as a hip young American in line behind us referred to him; apparently he makes an appearance every Sunday, but we were there at the wrong time.
We took a full day to check out Florence, too. It’s absolutely charming, fulfilling the image of a quaint Italian town: accordion players serenading passersby, cobblestone paths, and marble sculptures adorning the piazzas. The one major downside was that it, like Rome, was flooded with tourists. As such, we didn’t have time to stand in the three hour long line to see Florence’s crown jewel, the Duomo. We did see David up close and personal, though. Now, my art knowledge is severely lacking, but it’s impossible not to be wonderstruck by Michelangelo’s masterpiece. I knew he was big. I didn’t know he was five metres and six tonnes big. Even the most artistically challenged like myself can appreciate the craftsmanship required to produce such a piece. I can’t even place exactly what it was that I loved so much about David, but the longer I looked at it, the more fascinated I became.
- History is everywhere. Definitely somewhere to come back to because there is always something new to learn.
- People trying to sell you things on the street nearly to the point of harassment are a huge black mark on an otherwise great city. I didn’t buy a selfie stick from the last twenty guys who offered, so no, I don’t want yours, either.
- The food, oh my god, the food. Cheap, quick, delicious.
- Try to avoid peak season. The crowds are unlike anything I’ve ever seen.