When I first got to Rome on August 8th, I made the plan to create a two-week itinerary that would cover all the major sites… but that quickly fell through. I decided to not have a plan and to take Rome day by day instead. As a result, I found myself getting lost. A lot. And the thing about getting lost in Rome is that you always discover something great when you do. Whether it’s a famous building you’ve seen in a textbook, a delicious pizza shop tucked in a corner, or a bustling public event, you’re bound to surprise yourself by what is at the tips of your fingers. So instead of giving you my day-to-day itinerary from my first two weeks in the city, I invite you to get lost with me and discover some of my favorite, unexpected happenings so far.
The Pantheon. Who knew that venturing merely a couple blocks from my apartment would lead me to this iconic site. I couldn’t believe my eyes when it suddenly emerged from around the corner. Stepping inside, away from of the chaos of the square, I felt like the great dome swallowed me whole. Was it the shock of being in Rome for the first day, the magnificence of the structure, or both? Regardless, I was completely swept away by its sudden appearance. Since then, I pass the Pantheon on many of my routes to and from home. Not bad for a neighbor, huh?
Lungotevere Trastevere. This festival or “temporary village” as my Italian teacher liked to call it, is a stretch of shops, bars, restaurants, dancing, and games for the summer season and is located directly on the banks of the Tiber River (a few blocks south of my apartment). It’s a great place to grab dinner, enjoy some local culture, and just go for a walk. Nothing beats eating fresh fish while sitting along the river with music and the bustle of the crowd in the background.
Sperlonga. As I mentioned in my bio, I am a huge fan of swimming. So naturally I sought out the beach within my first week in the city. Just a 60 minute train ride away, the beach is a great escape from Rome’s heat and chaos. I went with six other classmates, and we all made quite a spectacle as a group of American students sitting among curious, sun-bathing locals. The beach was very crowded, but the ocean felt great and the local pizza was much better than the touristy targets in the city. Coming home, we missed our train to the Termini station due to traffic out of the town and ended up taking two trains and two buses just to get back-it was pretty stressful and exhilarating all at once. The beautiful beach combined with the crazy travel complication is definitely something none of us will forget.
Food! Saving the best for last, here are some of my favorite places that I have eaten at so far. I try to avoid touristy areas; the restaurants in the city center are geared towards American palettes and simply don’t compare to local places from food to atmosphere. I usually have found the best places to eat by going in more residential areas such as Trastevere, which is just across the Tiber River (Fiume Tevere). I have also made the rule for myself that I must order a different flavor of gelato every time I go because I love pistacchio so much that I could easily order it all the time. I’ve only broken this rule twice…so I think I am off to a good start!