A day and a half after getting back to Dublin from Vienna, I got on another plane for an extremely impulsive trip to Rome with my friend, Elise. When I say impulsive, I mean her and I were sitting in her common room a couple weeks ago planning a day trip in Ireland and about 30 minutes later we had flights and a hostel booked for Rome.
Quick back story on how I met Elise:
She posted in the UCD study abroad group a couple weeks into the semester asking if anyone was interested in going to see The Maine (a band I loved in high school) in Dublin. I had never met her before but I thought it would be cool to see them perform so I figured “Why not?”, responded to her post, and bought a ticket. Not long after meeting her the night of the concert, we realized we are extremely similar people and became good friends very quickly. And then we went to Rome together. (Elise is the one on my right…well the left side of the picture but the right side of me in the picture…you get it).
So anyway, ROME! Rome was so cool. I ate pizza 4 times in the day and a half I was there, and it was glorious. I was so excited for one of them, I didn’t even get a chance to take a picture before I devoured it.
Elise and I spent the one full day we had in Rome exploring most of the really touristy areas like the Colosseum, Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, etc. We ended up walking about 12 miles on Friday, and we saw SO much in some absolutely beautiful weather. It was the first time the had sun actually felt warm to me in almost 2 months so I was walking around in a t-shirt with my jeans rolled up, loving life, and feeling like it was one of those abnormally warm days in the middle of January. Meanwhile, all of the Italians were walking around in winter jackets as if it was 30ºF outside. It probably only reached a maximum of 60ºF that day, but after spending all of my time in the cold of Ireland, Germany, and Austria, 60 felt pretty tropical.
We didn’t have as much luck with the weather on our second day and we had to be back to our hostel by 4:30pm so we could catch a bus back to the airport, so we left the day mostly open to explore depending on whether it rained or not. The one thing we wanted to make sure we saw was Vatican City, so that’s where we went first.
It was absolutely amazing to look at and I would have loved to go inside, but as we got closer, Elise and I were bombarded by people trying to sell us tour tickets and explaining to us how “Vatican City isn’t in the same country as Rome” and a bunch of other stuff that we already knew. After we were pursued by a 3rd person in the 10 minutes before we even got to the gate, we ended up just kind of walking right into St. Peter’s Square with blinders on the rest of the way. We still aren’t sure if we were supposed to do that considering we saw a bunch of other people going security and getting all of their stuff scanned before being let in…but we did it anyway.
Some guy in Vatican City told me and Elise to go “stand in line with the rest of the dumb Americans” (jerk) after we wouldn’t pay 50 euros for a tour of St. Peter’s Basilica because that’s just absurd. Needless to say, we didn’t stay in Vatican City very long.
After leaving the Vatican, we started making our way towards what I thought was going to be a really cool view of Rome from the top of a really big hill…the problem is that neither of us had any data available to navigate so we were going based on the maps we could get on our phones. We went the wrong way (entirely my fault…oops) and ended up walking through a pretty dirty, not so nice part of Rome that I would have been content to never see. It did serve as a good reminder, though, that even the most beautiful, well-known cities have parts that aren’t perfect.
We didn’t have much for breakfast on Saturday as we had planned on having an early lunch, and we didn’t exactly feel great about stopping to eat in the part of Rome we were walking through…so after walking for about 3 hours both of us were a little bit hangry (Dad- if you’re reading this, that means we were angry because we were hungry). We were also exhausted because our hostel roommates were super loud the night before, so when we stumbled upon a huge, grassy park we decided to sit down and rest for a minute. This park ended up being one of my favorite sites on the whole trip…aside from the orange trees and magnificent house randomly placed in the middle of it, it made me feel a little bit like I was back at home.
After wandering through the park trying to find our way back to the nicer part of Rome, we came finally came out on the other side and decided to search for food. We ended up coming across an adorable little restaurant and having the best pizza and wine of the entire trip (this is pretty significant, because we sampled quite a bit of both of these things in the short time we were in Rome- it’s the pizza picture all the way to the right at the top of the post). The restaurant was called “La Scaletta” via Della Scala, 8, so if you’re ever in Rome…10/10 would recommend.
Between the park, the restaurant, and the amazing fountain and view of Rome (pictured below) we ended up finding on this accidental trip down the left side of the River Tiber, walking through the not-so-nice part was 100% worth it.
Things I learned in Rome:
- The lines on the roads there are simply a suggestion – people don’t care if you’re in the middle of a crosswalk. They will drive into oncoming traffic just to get around you.
- Most locals really do drive scooters and mopeds like they show in the movies.
- Two college-age female American tourists stick out like a sore thumb, especially when one of them is a blonde and you’re in Italy. This makes it so everyone you pass will either try to get you to eat at their restaurant, sell you something, or catcall your blonde friend (they were speaking Italian, but we knew what they were doing).
- We saw at least 100 people trying to sell selfie sticks around all of the main tourist attractions, and it was both hilarious and super annoying because more than half of them tried to sell us one.
- You don’t know good pizza until you’ve eaten pizza in Italy.
- Don’t be afraid to use public transportation if you have to get to the complete opposite side of the city- your body will thank you.
- Gelato in Italy…there are no words to describe how delicious it really is.
I’m already excited for the next impulsive trip Elise and I plan together! 🙂