After a 4 hour flight delay for slightly worrisome “maintenance issues” in Chicago, my flight finally left O’Hare for Rome Fiumcino. The flight was full of sick passengers coughing and sneezing which was far from reassuring. Finally, we landed in Rome around lunch time on Monday. Standing in line for passport control, an elderly woman began vomiting uncontrollably and the officers just waved us through without even looking at our passports. What a start to summer!
Once out of the terminal with my 50lb backpack, purse, and 2 rolling 50lb bags my first step was to purchase a ticket for a hotel shuttle to take me to the city center along with several other passengers. Since we are living in Trastevere for the summer, my apartment was the first stop along the way from the airport. Around 1:30pm I met our host Federico outside the apartment and together we lugged my heavy bags up a large hill and a flight of stairs. I definitely considered that to be part of my resistance training workout for the day.
Federico explained everything in the apartment then departed and I happily took a long shower and an hour long nap. Operating on about 3 hours of sleep total, I woke up and headed out to meet a new friend, Nicole, with whom I had connected on the “Expats in Rome” noticeboard on Facebook. Nicole unfortunately leaves Rome at the end of the week to spend her summer in the states, but I wish she was staying since we get along great!
Nicole, her 3 year old daughter, Lila, and her Frenchie, Pierre, and I walked to the neighborhood dog park where Pierre ran around for 15 minutes before becoming extremely exhausted. He laid down and didn’t even want to walk home, so cute! We dropped Pierre at the apartment then headed to a nearby cafe for a shot of espresso and tiny little fruit tarts. Then I headed back to my apartment before heading out for a nice evening stroll.
I started my stroll by walking 15 minutes down Viale Trastevere from our apartment which took me to the touristy area of Trastevere near the river. Trastevere near the river is a major tourist destination for great food in atmospheric cafes and trattorias, if slightly overpriced. Because of the influx of tourists on the hunt for a quaint dinner spot, immigrants sell all manner of purses, scarves, and other random toys on the streets while guys with accordions serenade diners in hopes for tips. The pedestrian only alleys are beautiful, if a bit crowded around meal time.
After wandering around close to the river, I walked across the Ponte Sistio pedestrian bridge towards the center of Rome. I am committed to not using a map at all this week, but instead to get lost in Rome and discover something new and different each day! Soon after I crossed the river, I found myself at the Torre Argentina, historic ruins which now also serve as a cat sanctuary. The spot is most famous for the historical claim that it is where Brutus murdered Julius Caesar. Now, the ruins just pop up in the middle of an otherwise modern looking square. The fact that they are about two stories below the present day ground level just goes to show how much there is being discovered in Rome all the time and how the layers of history in this city overlap to create an interesting past.
As I continued walking, buildings from the past and the present continued to collide in a way that is unique to Rome. Only in a city this ancient can you have a modern apartment building right next to ancient ruins of columns. After some more walking, I eventually happened upon the Pantheon where I decided to buy a sandwich from Antica Salumeria which is right on the Piazza della Rotunda. I sat on some steps in the center of the square and people watched right in front of the Pantheon.
After dinner, more walking took me to the Piazza Navonna, which just may be my favorite piazza in Rome, but I still have much more sightseeing to do. I love the Fountain of the Four Rivers by Bernini in the center of the Piazza as well as all of the cute restaurants and bars all around the square. I walked through the Piazza and was delighted to find a Grom gelato shop. I discovered Grom 2 summers ago as an au pair in Pisa and have been in love ever since. I am sure Grom does not provide the best gelato in Rome, but it provides quality flavors with fresh ingredients which are of the highest quality. I will definitely be on a quest for some of the best gelato shops in Rome while also stopping into Grom on occasion. Especially during June when they serve my favorite flavor, strawberry, which is in season!
While eating my half strawberry, half cream gelato I walked through some more beautiful pedestrian alleys and found my way to the Tiber River across from the Castel San’Angelo as the sun was going down. I walked back along the Tiber all the way to Viale Trastevere and then back up to my apartment. All in all, I was out for about two and a half hours and saw so many great sights in Rome. I plan to take long walks or runs every day that I am here if I can! Tomorrow Nicole and I are headed to Villa Pamphili for a walk and then lunch. I am excited to check out the largest park in Rome and see if it will be a good spot to run and play with my dog, Deuce, when he arrives later this month. Updates to come!