I’ve taken notice of some things, while living in Rome, that tourists just wouldn’t notice… I’m so grateful to be living in the residential part of Rome and not in the touristy areas.
1. If there’s a ton of vendors with knockoff purses and English speaking people trying to give you tours, that is not Rome. That’s Epcot or something.
2. If you take the metro at 10am on a Sunday morning, you can find everyone but an Italian there.
3. Italy is mountainous. And beautiful– especially the countryside. I know this from looking out the window on my bus rides, and not at the screen of my phone… where I would be looking on a bus in the US. No cell service could be a blessing in disguise.
3.5. You get to know people by speaking to them at dinner, and not by texting them from across the table.
3.75. If you want to meet up with someone, you tell them when and where, where you wait for each other, and walk over together. Trust and being timely goes a long way (in the case of me and my friends, they must really trust my word because I’ve been running 15 minutes late to everything).
4. You hear someone speaking English, you can make conversation. Ask where they’re from. If it’s 11:30 on a Saturday night on a bus to Trastevere, ask which school they’re studying at. Chances are, they have friends and you’re heading to the same place, so now you’re traveling in a big group- and you’re more likely to have fun socializing with them than with the same 3 people you spend all of your time with.
5. I hate running… usually. This week, I had an hour in between class and a lecture I had to attend for a class, so I ran from school to St. Peters. This run was along the river, where I passed Castel Sant’Angelo and ended up in two countries at once (the boarder of Vatican City). Then, I casually jogged back. It was only .75 miles (one way), but it seems so much closer. And when you’re running with a view like that, distance just isn’t real.
6. Not everyone speaks English. I don’t know much Italian, but if you come to Italy, please learn how to say “Grazie” and “Per Favore.” Working in the US, you probably couldn’t speak a foreign language to a customer if you wanted to. Never mind if someone ordered food in a different language- you wouldn’t know what to do.
7. I’ve been functioning on little sleep, because no one has time for that. For Wednesday’s Papal audience, I was at the Vatican by 7:30am. Yesterday, we woke up and decided we were going to go to Castel Sant’Angelo, which overlooks St. Peters Square beautifully. Today I was supposed to visit the equivalent of the White House, so I woke up after not having too much sleep, hopped on the metro, and met the group. (Don’t ask how it was… it was closed).
Basically my point is that “waking up and smelling the coffee (cappuccino?)” goes a long way here. Granted, I take a ton of pictures, but the beauty of staying here for so long is that I don’t need to take pictures to compensate for something I didn’t see or read or pay attention to while at a site. I have time to look around and to explore and to do different things. Some kids here would rather spend the day sitting home recovering from their lack of sleep or go shopping, but hey… yolo. (I had to… sorry).
This even goes to traveling to Rome. I don’t understand why anyone would want to stay a block away from Trevi. Rome really isn’t that busy of a city. The tourist attractions are always crowded and just not a good picture of what Rome is. Real Rome is to Central Park as historical Rome is to Times Square. While Times Square is cool, you won’t find New Yorkers stopping and taking pictures. You’ll find stores and street performers that you (as a tourist) would be interested in. If you go to the Upper East side in NYC, you won’t find the Naked Cowboy. Get what I’m saying? Book a hotel a stop or two away from historical Rome. You’ll eat better pizza, save money on rooming, and the metro is probably the easiest thing to navigate. Appreciate Rome for what it is, and not for the catered version.
Ok, so I didn’t mean for that to be a rant, but it kind of turned into one, so I apologize. Basically, I’m just saying that I’m happy to be enjoying the simple things here, which is something most people don’t get to do.