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Published: June 22nd 2007
So the day I arrived I decided to walk around and just come across landmarks/sites/interesting places. But I found that Rome is unlike Paris and Florence in the sense that it really matters where you're wandering. My hostel is not in the old city so I had to walk down a lot of streets with silly shops until I came across my first piazza (square with usually a fountain, sculpture, or obelisk where people hang out, drink wine and pigeons roam). The piazza is called Piazza della Repubblica and there were beautiful marble sculptures atop a fountain that sprayed water high up in the air. When the wind gusted through, it lightly misted those sitting on the foutain's lip, including me. I saw most people resting their feet in the cool water and I did the same - amazingly refreshing!
An excerpt from my journal:
It's so hot here - I explored the main train station terminal, found a bank and got smaller euros, and bought a bottle of water for the walk. (The bank was super cool because the entrance to the bank required you to step into a vertical capsule smaller than a phone booth as the door closed shut behind you. Then you wait 3 seconds enclosed in this capsule until the other door opens and you can walk into the bank.)
Rome is definitely a different crowd - more like families, tour groups, and older people. I'm looking forward to being with Marissa tomorrow. I bought a Rome pass which gives me 3 days of unlimited transportation and 2 free entries into museums. For 20 euros I couldn't pass it. Today I walked the whole day but it's too hot so the rest of my days in Rome will have less walking and more metro riding.
I sat around Vittorio Emmanuele for at least an hour - trying to rest my feet and find a way to stay cool in the scorching heat. It was absolutely beautiful and the marble was breathtaking. Two real guards had to stand at the center of the structure up the first flight of stairs. I'm not sure why, but I think it's for honoring the building or something.
From there I walked to the Colosseum but I was too exhausted to get close and admire it completely, I took the Metro back to Termini station, walked to the hostel, and crashed for 45 min. I met two of my roommates - Jesse and Kate, a couple from Colorado springs. I also met to girls, Sarah and Ashley from Greensburg South Carolina. At the same time I met 2 other girls from Texas and we all went to find food and sit at the nearby piazza. I had "fungi pizza" (pizza with mushrooms) and it was delicious! The crust is super thin and they put a thin layer of cheese right on the dough and put the sauce over the cheese.
So that was kind of what the rest of the day was like. I crashed on the bed and woke up the next morning around 9.
The real June 22nd day
Marissa was supposed to arrive at 9:15am but I heard from 2 of my roommates that there was a random train strike and all the trains were not running - crap! I then wasn't sure if she would come at all, so I sat on the hostel's patio and waited, wrote in my journal, etc. She did arrive by bus a bit later but it was so good to see her! (I had previously visited Marissa in November '06 at her home in Perugia, Italy where she's been studying for the year). We were meeting her friend Erica on the Spanish steps so we took the Metro there and sat among lots of other people. Thats what I like about Italian culture - there's no rush (except when driving) and the Piazzas are always occupied - what a social atmosphere! People are always outside and not cooped up in monstrous air conditioned malls.
Marissa checked into the hostel, put her bag down in our room and we met Erica, a girl I previously knew because we were on the same floor freshman year in the dorms, about 4 doors down. Small world! She's really nice and is here with her boyfriend Brynn who is studying poetry for a month. We walked around, went to the Piazza di Popolo (People's Piazza) and sat in the shade chit chatting like girls do. We sat again for an espresso and then met up with Brynn for my first gelato in Rome. It was so cool and refreshing and the flavors beat Pallino's (the American-Italian restaurant I worked at) gelato by a long shot. I had pistachio and coconut. yummmm.
Brynn went back to school, Erica went back home for a siesta and Marissa and I walked around for a few hours getting wonderfully lost. We walked along the Tiber river and ended up on a small island with only 2 buildings an a small piazza. Side note: I imagined the Tiber river to be cleaner with more water and more beautiful to look at...but it's actually quite dirty with weeds and trash floating in it. Okay, so Paris' Seine river is not so clean either but I think they spruced the river up by taking pride in constructing amazing bridges. Rome I guess is not so proud of their bridgework (yes, I made this word up, I think) but man, are they proud of their piazzas
Anyway, Marissa and I walked back along the Tiber in a different direction and saw the Palatine ruins from across the wide road. Many times here I've wondered what the builders/architects thought how long his masterpiece would be around for. We finally found our way to a familiar road and back to the Campo dei Fiori to meet Brynn and Erica for dinner at a quaint Italian place. They read about the restaurant in a guide book and boy was it cute. A very small room with 15 tiny tables crammed in somehow.
Words of the wise: Don't put parmesan on everything
I'll explain. I ordered the daily special which was spaghetti with shrimp and vegetables like tomatoes, slivered carrots, and strips of zucchini. Marissa and Brynn ordered rabbit (gulp) and Erica had spaghetti with clams. We also split a caprese salad and a bottle of amazing house red vino. All that for €17 (that was my splurge in Rome) each including dessert which I'll talk about later.
The meal arrived and I started to grate parmesan onto my spaghetti when a little old lady about 4' something ran over and grabbed my hand while speaking very loudly in Italian to me. She didn't sound mean or angry, but more passionate and worried. This surprised me and I was slightly embarrassed since others in the restaurant looked over at our table. Marissa told me that she wouldn't let me put parmesan on my dish because Italians say that seafood flavor is so delicate that parmesan overpowers the dish. This makes complete sense to me and I appreciate the lady really caring for my food enjoyment...she just did it in sort of a startling manner. It's just really American to sprinkle parmesan on any pasta dish, but now I learned something new.
For dessert the 4 of us split a square of tiramisu and also a custard thing that was set on a plate and drizzled with caramel sauce. Both were to die for and very rich so a few bites of each was enough for me. The pasta dish was delicious on it's own and I wish I knew how they made it. I think what made it taste so good was the fact that the noodles were fresh and I could tell because they were bright yellow and not stick straight like they had dried that way.
After dinner, Marissa and I took the bus to the hostel and found out that they gave Marissa's bed away!! This annoyed me but the guy said he'd take her to the sister hostel a block down the road. I thought this was inappropriate since they didn't even give her a discount.
Today definitely brought my spirit up more by hanging out with Marissa and getting more of a feel of the city.
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