A gelato for everyday

The last week has felt like months as my classmates and I have not wasted a single moment in Rome. Our first day, following the most exhausting 18 hour flight plus 3 hour waiting-for-key game, was dedicated to a very necessary shower, mild exploration, gelato (be jealous) and a full blown and unbelievably delicious four course welcome dinner that took over three hours to eat. However, day two beckoned us to some tourist sites. With my roommate’s site presentation being on Trajan’s column (each art history student is assigned a historic site on which we must give a presentation and write a paper), we headed straight for Trajan’s Forum and Capitoline Hill. In addition, our professors have introduced us to some lesser studied areas such as the old Jewish ghetto, unknown churches, the Lateran, and Sancta Santorum. It is so refreshing to skip the traditional slide show lecture and to be put onto a bus to actually see the focus of our discussions.

Our whole class has already socially divided into small groups to do individual explorations. My “Trastevere group” (the area in which we are living) spends most of the days going in and out of churches and shops on our way to bigger sites. I cannot begin to list the ways in which my body hurts from the amount of activity we are putting ourselves through, but every bruise, sore muscle, blister, and neck lump has all been worth it. Just this past week we have seen the Colosseum, the Roman Forum and the top of Palentine Hill, Trevi Fountain, Santa Maria Ara Coli, and even a modern art exhibit on Tamara De Lempicka. Most of these sites we have merely stumbled across on our way to gelato, which, by the way, we have all made a pact to have at least once a day (so far, soooooo good). It is easier here to just get up and go then back at home because, for example, if we are hungry at some point in the day, we just keep reading outdoor menus until we see one we like. If we need to refill our water bottles, we just keep our eyes out for the next street fountain (surprisingly clean). If we want gelato, we just…well, they’re like Starbucks here so you’re never far from one. If we want to see something amazing, we just turn a corner. The moment when I realized you can never go wrong in the oldest city in the world is when a group of us decided to explore some local streets and ended up climbing up a massive hill topped with a giant staircase just for the fun of it (and maybe to work off a two gelato day). The result: the most unbelievable view of the center of Rome, a spectacular fountain, and a beautiful, hidden park. When do you ever just stumble across that in Seattle?

With everyday becoming its own adventure from 9:00AM to 11:00PM, it has been a little difficult to settle in. My roommate and I have managed to gather some basic groceries and even found a regular breakfast bar that already starts making two cappuccinos when we enter. We’ve all spent a little time in the three apartments that the art history group is divided into and had a little family dinner one night at “the boys apartment.” The “Trastevere group” is hoping to dedicate some more time to exploring local hangouts now that we have seen so many monumental sites. With the realization of how long we’re going to be here settling in, it has been a lot easier to start pacing ourselves. Today (Sunday) for example, is an individual “chill day” as we each run our own little errands and do some homework. But right now, it is time for my daily gelato fix. Ciao!

Tips for future travelers: Bring your own sunblock and be prepared for hot weather right at the end of March. “Rain” here is not the same in Seattle. Unless you’re attached to a certain brand, I haven’t had issues finding any toiletries. Tap water is great but, for some reason, the same price as soda at restaurants. Italians don’t like anything less than exact change, so if you get attitude for having a big bill just deal with it and tell them to break it. Also, do not expect to smell good or even descent after an 18 hour flight.