There’s something extremely soothing about waking up early in the Trastevere neighborhood of Rome: as the first bus of the day stops under my apartment, I can hear the city getting up, traffic slowly increasing with the light, Romans headed to the bar for an early morning cappuccino, tourists coming out of their hotels and hostels to execute a carefully orchestrated assault on the city.
Rome has been, to say the least, a barrage of stimuli.
Almost daily my classmates and I embark on long walks, eager to find something we had previously only read about. Our journeys are not those of people with a schedule – we amble through diverse neighborhoods and colorful alleyways, concerned as much about the atmosphere of the city as the monuments we are visiting. There is something wonderful about the knowledge that one can revisit a place multiple times so easily, and we have all taken advantage of the central location of Cornell in Rome.
Beyond the buildings, there is the food. Not inexpensive, but completely worth every penny, regardless of whether you pick up fresh ingredients in the market at Campo dei Fiori or find a wonderful hole in the wall to have dinner. From breakfast (in Rome, coffee/cappuccino/espresso with a pastry) to the final gelato of the day – and yes, the gelato is (almost) obligatory – eating proves to be a wonderful pastime.
Getting around is proving to be difficult, as my grasp of the Italian language is weak, at best, in spite of daily lessons. Somehow the carefully constructed sentences of class become a jumble of broken Italian and hand gestures with some Spanish thrown in for good measure. Even so, I found myself in Ostia Antica this weekend, having figured out the metro and subsequent train ride, admiring an ancient port that is arguably better preserved than Pompeii. Merely 30 minutes outside of Rome, the ruins proved that the greatness and complexity of Roman history and culture is everywhere in this region.