Family Dinners

Saluti a tutti! I’m Jake Woll (One of the trio of Jakes on this worldly adventure) and I am a junior Bachelor of Science in architecture major.


After getting our feet wet here in Rome the first few weeks, we are now diving headfirst into our immense map of the Eternal City, and even with homework beginning to reappear in our lives, camaraderie and spirits couldn’t be higher. The jitters of being thrust into a new place with new faces are behind us and we’ve started to become quite the close knit group. As a matter of fact, Saturdays have been designated “Family Dinners,” showcasing what each apartment is capable of in the kitchen and bringing us all together at once outside the classroom, recounting stories of the week, planning a night out, talking a little shop and enjoying our group of seventeen people. Without Saturdays, it becomes tough to squeeze us all at once into some of these hole in the wall Italian cafes and restaurants. Believe me, we’ve tried.

This past Saturday, it was the guys turn. All of us live in what has been dubbed the penthouse of the three apartments, with corner bedrooms, six 6th floor balconies, a relatively large dining area and an incredibly small kitchen complete with a unruly oven, a single light, and enough counter space for a small loaf of bread. No matter, we were up for the challenge. The bar was to be set high. We don’t hide our pride of our newfound Italian cooking abilities and behind the unwavering stovetop leadership of Norman (a gifted landscape architect, sketcher and closet chef,) we whipped out some of the best chicken pesto veggie pasta thing I had ever eaten. This kept us all fueled as we headed out for a night of tearing up dance floors.


Chef Norman on the Left and Jake Halsne on the right

In addition to a weekly meal between all of us, it is now becoming common place to grab anyone in the group and throw out the suggestion of getting a slice of za or “Four-stop gelato” (a particular gelateria is four stops away on the tram.) After some strictly academic trial and error, We’ve successfully identified our favorite pizza joints and cappuccino cafes for the most part, only to hopefully, have the list regularly rewritten.


Something from the “New Favorite Gelato Place”

Between our rapidly improving cooking talents and growing ingredient/language knowledge as well as the simply unavoidable daily gelato or pizzeria stop, I am becoming thankful that Rome is a city seen best while walking. Every next church that I walk into seems to be the most beautiful church I have ever laid on eyes on. The neighborhoods are growing in character day by day, and I am beginning to, dare I say, feel like I know my way around and could even help someone out with directions. This is especially true in our home-base neighborhood of Trastevere, the Brooklyn of Rome and a hotbed of local culture.

As I went for my run today (somewhat feeling the need to burn off the insane amount of carbs yet knowing they were totally worth it,) I paused at the top of the hill flanking Trastevere and looked out over the skyline. I was able to pick out most notable landmarks and trace a handful of our regular paths. I scurried along down the hill, along Vatican City and briskly ran home following the Tiber River feeling completely at home and ready to love my new city, if only for a month.

20160130_130237.jpg As I finish up this post and begin to conceptualize some of my sketches for tonight, I can’t help but be thankful for this newfound group of friends and blown away by Rome being even greater than I had imagined. Now I’m off to try my hand shooting from the hip to make a homemade mac and cheese with Jake Halsne. Ciao and more to come.


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