So we made it to Rome. Hurray! Even though it’s only been about 36 hours, I already feel at home. Yesterday, I, along with 5 others, made the trek from the airport to our apartment in Trastevere and got in about 10:30 in the morning. The day from then on out consisted of grocery shopping, unpacking, and a group dinner at a local restaurant. The food there was amazing, however since our apartment is located outside of the city center, I hadn’t yet felt the awe of Rome. That all changed when we took our lunch break today.
This morning, we went to the accent center (which is basically like our student center) for orientation which lasted until 11:30. After that, we were let out for a lunch break which lasted until 1pm. The accent center is in the center of Rome, so there was plenty to eat around our location. As a group of about 10, we stumbled upon a small coffee bar and went in to eat. What really struck me about the place immediately was how inviting they were to a very big group of us in a small cafe. The workers were very attentive and happy to serve us all, something that would probably never happen in the U.S. with a group that big. But also the FOOOOOOOD. I ordered a margarita pizza which actually ended up being more like how Americans think of paninis or calzones. Even though it wasn’t a big pizza, it was just enough food for lunch. The cappuccino I got with the pizza was the best cappuccino I have ever had in my life and I was a barista for 3 years in the states. Best part was that I got all of this for 4 euros. During lunch we talked about how in the states, it is really easy to tell how expensive a restaurant is just by looking at it and how hard it is to eat well without paying a lot of money. This was then contrasted with how it is in Rome and other cities in Europe, in which the food is well made no matter where you go but more money is paid for a higher level of ambiance or service. For example, if you want a grab and go place for lunch, the prices will be very inexpensive, but there won’t be any place to sit down.
After we left the restaurant, we wandered down the street for a little bit until we got to a very large very old church. This was the moment I realized how much I was going to love Rome. When we entered the church (which turned out to be Sant’Andrea della Valle) I was awestruck. It was the most beautiful church that I had seen in Europe yet. The church was done in the baroque style so it was magnificently gilded. I am not very religious but walking into that basilica gave me chills. The way the light seemed to gleam off the reliefs along the wall created a very spiritual and calming environment. I walked along the entire interior and took many pictures but nothing can beat the real thing.
After roaming the church for about 20 minutes, it was time to head back to accent for our drawing exercise. The lunch break allowed me to experience Rome as the city that it truly is. The crazy drivers, the great food, the walkability, and the historic monuments are all things that work together to form my first impression of the historic center of Rome. As far as first impressions go, this is a pretty good one! More to come in the coming weeks. 🙂