You’re going to Rome soon! Or, you’re already in Rome! Congratulations, most of y’all have been waiting for this moment at least for three years since the beginning of the college (at least I was). Now you have a few weeks left until you arrive – hopefully you have been getting ready to pack (!!!).
My name is Sunny Kim, a rising senior and a Fine Arts major. I spent the Spring semester of my Junior year in the Cornell in Rome Program. I started an internship at a contemporary art & design gallery in the center of Rome (www.spazionuovo.net) back in February as a gallery assistant. I ended up working at the gallery throughout the summer as well – it is almost over though, and soon I will be going back home for the first time in 7 months, just three weeks before school begins!
Before I leave Rome, I would like to give you some introductions and tips that I have collected for your successful Fall semester in this beautiful city. There are numerous tour guides on Rome out there, but I will share the information regarding the exactly same environment that you will experience.
How to get around in Rome?
WALKING is the answer in Rome, I must say.
An incredible number of Roman citizens ride scooters (you will see the ‘real’ lifestyle size of scooters, rather than those cute little Vespas) and sometimes bicycles. Yes, those two-wheeled-transportation methods seem to be the most efficient choices for Roman traffic. However, once you see how dangerous motorcycles and bicycles can be (especially if you are a newcomer to the city)—you will understand why students in the Cornell program are not allowed to use them.
So, no free convenient transportation method. But no worries! Fun fact: the size of the city center (where the school building and apartments are located) is similar to that of Cornell Campus. Indeed, it is quite a walkable city. Everything you need (especially from the Palazzo and school apartments) is within a short waking distance. If you ever choose to be a hermit in Rome, you probably would not have to go anywhere but the small block around the school for the entire semester.
WALK and GET LOST.
Usually the first motivation to explore is 1) to find restaurants/gelaterie , 2) to shop, or 3) just for the sake of exploring the city. Even with a map (even an iPhone), you are most likely to get lost at least once in Rome.
Rome still retains much of its original shape since who knows when, therefore most of the streets are narrow and hardly any of them are straight. Knowing how to locate yourself is the key, and here are some tips:
1. Always bring your maps with you
2. Check your way around with Google Maps and mark it on your map.
3. The Palazzo (Largo Torre Argentina) is really in the center of Rome.
4. With the Palazzo at the center, you have
- Piazza del Popolo to the North
- Trastevere, across the Tiber River to the Southwest
- The Colosseum to the East
After you have gotten lost several times, you will get used to the Roman streets a lot more quickly than you might expect. BE ADVENTUROUS AND GET LOST! Maybe not during the middle of hot summer afternoon, but a Roman summer night is perfect for a evening stroll with a cone of gelato.
THE MUST-HAVE ITEM FOR THIS DAILY WALKING EXTRAVAGANZA
Shoes with solid bottoms such as Sperries, running shoes, boots (without heels, obviously), oxfords, etc.
Ladies – you might have a hard time walking in your fancy flat shoes on these intense cobblestone streets. For leather goods you have a good opportunity to get some quality shoes in Rome because you will arrive during the sale season. Italian leather shoes are actually gooooood.
You probably will not use public transportation much unless you are going somewhere further for classes, picnics, or traveling. But here is some essential information:
Tram line 8: starts in front of the Palazzo only goes towards the South.
Tram line 2: starts from Piazza del Popolo.
MAXXI (Rome Contemporary Art Museum): Metro A at Flaminio, or Tram 2 at Apollodoro
Termini (Rome Central Train Station): Bus 64, 40 (express) – trains to airports
Trastevere and further South: Tram line 8
Villa Borghese: Bus 116
- Sunny Kim