Life & Stuff, Travel

Exploring the Colossal City of Rome

Rome is a destination on nearly everyone’s list of “places to visit” because of the Colosseum (amongst other things). In fact, it’s always been one of the iconic monuments that I’ve always wanted to set eyes on, to remind myself of how amazing this world and the people in it can be – with all the good and bad tied to this monument and other sights.

So, when we got to Rome – despite my expected anxiety – we were astounded and in awe with every step. I’d already been to Italy before (Verona, Vicenza, and Venice) but I’d never been to Rome, or with my partner before. This was a special trip.

And here’s why:

Weather

As a British person, I am always complaining that it’s too cold or too hot! We’re never satisfied either way. In England, we’ve been having a lot of hot weather. I’d already tanned loads and soaked up about three normal summers worth of heat in only two weeks of this weird heat wave we’re having.

But Rome topped this!

It killed me.

I feel no shame in admitting that I even cried on the first day because I felt overwhelmed by heat and walking and the week ahead of us.

Now that we’re back, though, I feel grateful for the weather. Yes, I sweated through three top changes each day. Yes, I broke out in spots from the heat. Yes, I didn’t want to eat as much as I might have if I wasn’t so hot. But it made the setting so wonderful – and for that, I’m grateful.

Sights

Of course, we couldn’t go to Rome without seeing the many great sights that decorate the city. Patrick and I said to ourselves on the way back, that if we were to describe Rome in one word, it would be – BIG!

Everywhere you turned, there were colossal buildings and Roman ruins and columns in abundance. As a writer, I felt inspired. As a thinker, I felt intrigued by the “how” of it all. And as an emotional person, I felt overwhelmed by how small I was compared and how beautiful it was and how they must have lived back then…

We saw:

  • The Colosseum
  • The Pantheon
  • The Roman Ruins
  • Palatine Hill
  • St. Peter’s Basilica
  • The Vatican Museums
  • The Spanish Steps
  • Trevi Fountain
  • Many, many churches
  • Gardens
  • Fountains
  • And more

Accommodation

We started off in a small hotel near the Vatican. However, when we arrived, it wasn’t what we expected. The toilet was across the hall and we had to unlock it with a key. This is a little thing, but it annoyed us! Every time we needed to pee or shower or other, we had to walk across the hall and everyone could see our business?! No thank you!

And so, we made the decision to move. We asked about another room but they had none available, and so my partner decided that we’d look for an Airbnb instead (which is what we usually go for anyway so…)

I was a little apprehensive, as a frugal person, but in the end, it was the perfect decision. We found an amazing Airbnb that was located in a better spot not far from the Colosseum. It helped us get around better, experience more, eat at better locations, and of course be way more comfortable! It was our own little apartment for 4 days.

It had a cupboard that acted as a drip drainer, which I hear is customary in Italy. I definitely liked the idea; it kept the drying dishes hidden away so there’s no mess!

Although the tv had nothing but Italian dubbed shows, we still liked having it on in the background at night or when we were getting dressed. I for one loved watching Italian anime and Kung Fu Panda! (Yes, I’m a child).

Figuring it out

Whilst we were there (as with any new city you visit), we had to figure a few things out and get used to a few cultural elements:

  • Fountains dotted all around the city with fresh cold water (thank the gods!)
  • Forcing your way across the street in front of oncoming traffic because otherwise, they won’t stop for you! (We became confident experts in the end!)
  • Public transport: where to get a ticket, where to get on, double-decker trains
  • Paying after you’ve eaten for things as simple as sandwiches
  • Asking if they spoke English, and botching the Italian we used ourselves
  • Wine with every meal!
  • Big steps and loads of them, too
  • Being decent in churches
  • Eating late in the evening; places aren’t open before 7 in many parts

FOOD

Another thing that people go to Rome (or Italy in general) for is food! (See the EAT part of Eat, Pray, Love). In the UK, we all love pizza and pasta, and Italy is home to both. However, it’s not like we have it at home. Oh, no.

It’s world’s better!

The pasta isn’t soft and overcooked. The cheese isn’t as dull. From the first bite, you’re met by flavour dancing on the taste buds in ways you didn’t realise was possible from a “simple” pasta dish.

And the pizza! None of this basic tomato paste or store-bought sauces. It’s real tomatoes that are used and it’s soft and succulent. You cut the pizza yourself, you fold it, and you taste the potent blend of base, tomato, fresh cheese and whatever toppings you choose. We tried a few kinds throughout the trip: a salmon pizza, sausage, prosciutto, spicy salami, chicken, and probably more that I’ve forgotten!

And lastly, food-wise, we also had the chance to learn about Italian organic, natural food with a food tasting experience that my partner surprised me with. At a small, sweet, homely shop, the owner gave us (and another couple, who were from Australia and were great company) a slab of wood that had various cheeses and meats displayed on it.

We tried (taken from the site because I had forgotten the names!) –

Cheeses: sheep, goat, cow, blu, truffle, and pecorino.

Meats: (salami varieties) bacon, ham, mortadella.

The most notable and interesting part will have to be the fresh olive oil we tasted. Yes, we tasted it. Not with any food, no. Instead, he said we should drink some, and inhale quickly with gritted teeth and if it burns the throat, it’s fresh!

And bloody hell did it burn my throat!

Oh wait, and gelato! We tried many flavours from the 150 flavour shop my brother and his girlfriend took us to! And of course, it helped us survive the heat!

Inspiration

Lastly, our wonderful trip to Rome helped to give me the much-needed inspiration that I needed. Not only did it inspire my current novel for design purposes, language, and culture, but it also inspired my general thinking.

It opened my mind.

Every trip to a new place opens the mind just that bit more, and for that very reason (among many others) I will keep getting on planes and boats and trains even when my heart pounds and my mind fills with fears.

Because, oh to see the world, isn’t that the dream?

❤️

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