My three young female German cousins and I were given the opportunity to see Rome, the eternal city, together for one week in early May. The eldest and I went one day early via a magical form of transport called "Mitfahrgelegenheit", which basically means you ride in a car with a total stranger for many hours and then pay them some money for this pleasure. It is almost always a good experience I have heard and ours was as well. Our driver was an Italian man, Roberto the plant biologist, and the fourth passenger was Santiago, a Mexican chemical engineer studying in Rome.
After 10 hours we arrived in Rome. My cousins had found a sweet little holiday apartment close to the center of the city and about 15 minutes by foot to the Colosseum. No big deal. The first night we trudged through the rain to get some delicious pizza, which was completely worth getting kind of lost in a huge train station full of homeless people and stranded travelers.
Rome was truthfully a complete blur of AWESOMENESS. My eyes were open the whole time and I was told that they got even bigger, which I didn't know was possible. I also felt like my jaw was on the floor the whole time what with being completely awe-struck by everything.
First, I want to say something about Romans. Yes, they are Italians, but they are also Romans. I got the feeling while there that Rome is a place to visit more than a place to live partly because it is so incredibly touristy and also because it is so crazy. The first night we were there sleep did not come easily, which could have been in part to the new bed, but I think it was mostly due to the noise on the street outside. All through the night sirens were blaring and car horns too. Apparently in Rome it is impossible for emergency vehicles to get through the heavy traffic so they don't even try, which means a blaring siren will just stand in one place for up to 5 minutes! Also, it seems that Romans/tourists in Rome get hurt a lot because there is never a time when no sirens are heard. Secondly, the horns. I came to the conclusion that Romans honk all the time for a number of reasons: they are mad at another driver (most common), they are greeting a friend, they saw a pretty woman or man, they are upset or happy about the soccer game results, or they just don't want to be left out,
The Italians I came into contact with were all very warm and friendly. The only bad experience I had was getting my ass grabbed by a creepy old guy, but I didn't let that ruin my opinion of Romans. On our last day I got stuck in the turn-style in the train station and it was a bit scary actually, but about 10 Italians stopped to help me, all putting there own tickets through to try and help. One said, "I think you will stay there forever!" and laughed. Pretty much, if you try and say a few words in Italian then they will try a few in English. It was wonderful.
The Colosseum was insane. Foro Romano was nuts. The Curia (Senate building) was humbling. Vatican city was surreal. The Sistine Chapel was breathtaking. St. Peter's dome made me literally gasp. The Castle of the Angels made me think of what it was like to live in a dungeon. The churches (of which we may have entered 40,000) were some of the oldest and most beautiful structures I have ever seen. I saw art by Rodin, Michelangelo, Caravaggio, Rafaello, and more who I can't remember. I ate the best pizza, pasta, ice-cream, and drank the best coffee of my life in Rome.
I need to elaborate on the coffee. I am not a coffee drinker. However, the first time I put that warm creamy brown liquid to my lips in Rome I tried to think of all the ways I could never let go of that coffee. It is somehow so smooth that it feels like liquid velvet. With a little sugar on the foam it sweetens the bitterness. The cappuccinos have the right amount of milk and foam. Not only that, it creates this deep feeling of calm and comfort, which I have never, not once, had from coffee anywhere else in the world.
There is so much to be said about Rome. There is not enough space to do it in. I will leave only with this: Rome is a city for dreamers. It is a place to go to expand your mind. The emotion, the grime, the bad public transport, the love, the history, the art, the incredible amount of homeless severely disabled beggars, the food, the wine... these are all things that make up this colorful city, which is both stressful and impossible to hate. I will cherish that adventure for a lifetime to come.