Who puts off a 5000 word research paper until the night they arrive in Rome? This kid. Even though the first three days of the week had been put aside for finishing my last piece of work for Sciences Po of the semester, I somehow managed to procrastinate enough that I still had over half of the assignment to write by the time I walked out of my flat on Thursday morning.
Besides two final group drinks, at Bodega and Reviens, the beginning of the week was pretty uneventful. On Wednesday night I said my final goodbyes to Josh, Tyler, Alessandro, Alexandra and Cal, which broke my heart just a little bit. Bags packed and boarding pass at the ready I made it to Paris and then Rome on Thursday with little issue. One short walk from the train station later (and a very loud warning from the ticket machine about pickpockets that I think helped single me out as a tourist even more), mum was meeting me at the door to our Airbnb.
That night was spent catching up over dinner and then stressing over finishing my paper – which worked out well considering I was up anyway to let Claire in when she arrived close to midnight. We took advantage of a long sleep in on Thursday morning, having a lazy breakfast before catching up with mum for a picnic lunch and a glass of wine in the park around the corner. As we wandered out the other side, we were met with the most beautiful skyline of Rome (see my photo diary for pictures!) and just a little further around, the Spanish Steps.
Braving the crowds, we ventured out to Giolitti for some gelato which I cannot recommend enough. That afternoon was spent wandering around the suburb of Trastevere in search of cute buildings and fruity cocktails. Though a little lost, we managed to get our hands on some very strong Mai Tais and Daiquiris before heading back for a homemade dinner.
The next day was Saturday, and Claire and I had booked tickets online for a tour of the Vatican. We had enough time to stop at Campo de’Fiori on the way, and more importantly to pause at an Italian bakery for brunch. Exactly why we had picked France and not Italy to study in became pretty unclear, as we ate the most amazing proscuttio and mozzarella pizza followed by a ricotta and chocolate tart for Claire and a pistachio tart for me (pic below!) Absolute heaven. When we’d finally hiked past the queue that wrapped all the way around the corner of the Vatican Museum, and shown our online tickets that got us straight in the door, we were already out of breath.
What followed was a two hour tour of the crowds inside the Vatican. Honestly, at one point I considered getting frustrated simply because of the sheer amount of people that we shuffled shoulder to shoulder with through the rooms, but the sculptures, frescoes and buildings themselves were so beautiful it was pretty understandable why so many people had travelled to see it. Though the Sistine Chapel was a little disappointing, the highlight of the Vatican for me was the Basilica (which you can get in for free!). I can’t compare it to any other church I’ve been inside in my life. It was beautiful.
Dehydrated, sweaty and overwhelmed by crowds, Claire and I decided we had more than earned a cocktail. Stumbling across the beautiful Piazza Navona on the way, we found some Aperol Spritz and antipasti in a quiet square, and spent the rest of the afternoon enjoying the sun and relaxing. That night, we traded stories over a jug of red wine and some pasta at a small restaurant outside our Airbnb, after which mum showed us the correct way to drink a limoncello shot.
On Sunday we all took a day trip to the Tivoli Gardens. Located about an hour outside of Rome by train, they are in Villa D’Este, and are filled with beautiful Roman fountains. Already exhausted from three full days of walking, we all decided to go home a little earlier, and relaxed over some homemade risotto for dinner.
Our final day rolled around, and Claire and I knew we still had so much to do. We spent the morning walking from the Colosseum to the Trevi Fountain, rewarding ourselves with pizza by the slice from Mami followed by Frigidarium gelato. (I’d still recommend Giolitti but this was a great place too!) After lunch, we made the most of the energy we suddenly found and walked an hour over the river and up a few hills to visit the Villa Doria Pamphilli and its surrounding parks. It was definitely nice to get out of the city for a little bit and wander around some green fields, and the view we got on the way back was stunning.
My plane home has almost landed now so I think that’s enough for this essay! Shoutout to my mum for making or buying us dinner every night and letting us crash her Airbnb, to Claire for being an A+ travel buddy and to Google Maps for continually directing us in the opposite direction from where we wanted to go. Ending up on a ten minute walk down a highway with no footpath was really not part of the plan, Maps. If you’d like to see why I loved Rome so much, check out my photo diary (I’m very proud of it).
Italian word of the week: torta – cake (the only word I managed to remember from Duolinguo)