Roma

 "Something told me that if I threw money at it, good things would happen..."


Rome, the city with a neighboring country. 

  I arrived in Rome early in the morning. Not early like eight, but early like four. My bus dropped me off at the dark train terminal with rain pelting from above, and it was now up to me to make my way to my hostel. Somehow I managed it, though in retrospect it took much longer than it should have considering it was just across the street! It's funny how when you first arrive in a new place, your sense od direction completely leaves you and you scramble for the maps. But after a few days, your practically a local! Anyways, I was buzzed up into the hostel only to find a dark communal room with a dimly lit front desk, and a weary looking attendant. Apparently, even if you arrive at your hostile at an ungodly hour of the day you had booked, you still couldn't get your room until later that evening! Who knew? Well, in an effort to get a bit of shut eye, I fixed myself a pallet on the nearest couch and proceeded to rejuvenate. Funnily, a few hours later when I woke up I noticed two fellow travelers beside me who had the same idea!  

  And so started day one of three of my Roman escapades! Now, I will have you know that for my entire stay I did not pay a cent for museum entry, tours, or bus! How did I accomplish such a thing? Simple. I use the bipedal attachment that evolution has deigned to bestow upon me, and I walked! I know, scandalous! Though I do offer a warning for fellow traveler seeking to do the same, wear good shoes! The streets of Rome (as with most Italian cities) are completely cobbled! No heels here ladies! Leave that for the Italian women (have no earthly idea how they pull it off!). So yes, I walked, saving boatloads on bus tours wich flit about the city carrying doey eyed Americans on their first excursion out of their mother country. Instead I traveled like a local, checking out side streets and local markets, saving the architectural marvels for when I happened across them. This was done while ducking in and out of coffee shops to escape suddenly downpours of rain followed by sunshine (Though I didn't completely escape the wet).   Now, on comparison of Rome and Florence, there is one mitigating factor. Size! Florence has perhaps developed a complex in the past, and decided to make up for it with as much cultural context as they could fit into the narrow streets. The creators Rome on the other hand had only ideas of grandeur when creating neighboring monoliths competing for territory. The first one I happened upon was the Monument of Victor Emanuel II. This beautiful structure was built to commemorate the king of Savoia and his successful unification of the country in 1870. The inside was nice, but the exterior leaves one in  awe. Consequently, from the too of the steps you are able to see both the collesium and the Roman Forum. The collesium and forum were both packed with tourist groups, so rather stand in line and pay for entrance, I decided to admire the exterior, take a picture, and move on. I'm not one for long lines. Instead I once again began exploring and found my favorite place in all of Rome. The Trevi Fountain. I was never expecting to love it as much as I did, but one I found it, I was enthralled! I've never been very superstitious, but something told me that if I threw money at it, good things would happen. So there went my pocket change! I made sure to revisit the fountain every day of my stay! The rest of my first day was spent walking around the local market place full of handmade trinkets, and taking a stoll through the local park! By then, the rain pellets substantially increased in size, and soon mini Chihuahuas and kittens were falling upon my head, a sign that it was time to head back to the hostel for a hot shower to replenish my reserves.
   When I got back to my room, I found two new faces had been added to the ranks. An 18yro student from Mexico who was starting med school, and a 26yro who had just finished med school! Right up my alley! Needless to say our conversation was filled with that wired language called science. We went out on the town to check out the local nightlife and made our way from an Irish Pub to a club and back again. I will warn anyone planning to go out please be sure to understand Italian customs beforehand! That is, Aperativo at 6pm, dinner at 10pm, clubbing at 2am. If you show up at a club at midnight, you will be dancing all by your lonesome. 


  

  My second day I decided to visit another country. If it was anywhere else in the world, this might seem a bit strange, but considering the closest country was a mere 3km away, I think it was reasonable. The Vatican is in fact the smallest country in the world (last I checked)! Though due to the constant influx of visitors there are no border patrols and I didn't get a stamp for my passport, which was definitely a bummer. There were three different bridges that separated Rome from the Vatican, and it took the middle one that lead straight up to St. Peter's Basilica. Now, I know I said I hated long lines, but this wasn't something I could pass up. The line itself was probably over 2km long, but moved really fast as there was not an entrance fee. There were however metal detectors, so ladies leave the giant handbags that carry your entire lives, and boys you really don't need that backpack full if camera gear. They won't let you in with them, so lock them up at the hostel! Oh, side note! Bring your own lock, because not all hostels carry them! So, the Basilica. While most church's in Europe boasted tower in spires of majestic beauty and intricate frame work, St. Peters was more focused on the art housed within the church. Not to say the exterior wasn't incredible! It actually has the largest dome in all of Italy (much to the irritation of Florentines)! Much of the artwork and sculpture were devoted to Poeps off the past, some adorning their actual crypts! But by far the most majestic piece was located straight above our heads. The exterior of the dome wasn't just for show, it housed the most awe enspiring mosaic I have ever beheld. I'm pretty sure I got neck cramps from looking up so long. Definitely one to put on your bucket list!

  Next was a visit to the Vatican museum. think of it as a mini Louvre, and equally spectacular! Though while my favorite exhibit in the Louve was the sculpture exhibit, my favorite part of the Vatican museum was a room filled with pictures of the pope visiting different cultures around the world. The one that moved me the most was one of the pope in Papua New Guinea conversing with the local tribesmen. I prefer to not think of this room as one of religious conscription, but rather as one signifying the purity of culture exchange. The other part of this museum that I love is the view from the courtyard, where you have a spectacular view of the dome of St. Peter's Basilica. 

  

  The last day of my trip was spent meandering over the city, returning back to the Trevi Fountain to say goodbye (and lose the rest of my pocket change), and buying souveneirs from the local market. I will say the absolute best souveneirs are jewelry! Easy to carry and you will wear them forever! And so my Roman holiday came to its end as I boarded a bus to southern Italy. 

Travelers ListWhat to pack? Amazing walking shoes! NO HEELS!
Money? They use the Euro, take enough for the local market and also for entry to the collesium and Vatican if interested!
What to take on a day out? Walking shoes, camera, and your hostel map of the city. No bags, as petty they happens a lot! Leave passport in locker at the hostel!
Danger? Stay in a group when walking about at night, as creepy guys are on the prowl! Warning! Italian men are VERY persistent!
When to Go? Anytime is enjoyable as long as your face isn't being peeled by freezing winds! 
Must See? Trevi Fountain and St. Peters Basilica
                       



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