Like Julius Ceaser once said, "Veni, Vidi, Vici," I too had a quick victory here in Rome, Italy. Food, art, and architecture are all staples of Italian culture, and lucky for me I had friends with a free weekend and an empty couch!
This is my third trip while abroad, including London and Cambridge, but I consider this my first major trip. While my time here was short, my weekend was full of great food, gorgeous landmarks, and enough walking to shave off all the pasta and pastries I had to try. I left Norwich, England on Saturday morning and spent the majority of the day whipping around the U.K. to get to the Gatwick airport. Honestly, I was so tired when I landed in Rome Fiumicunio. Can you imagine how shook I was when I got out of the airport to realize the taxi driver I ordered didn't speak any English?! Spanish couldn't cut it.
If it wasn't for Shantell, Eliza, Madi, or Mikaela I couldn't even be here! I owe them so much for letting me stay with them, and for showing me a Roma good time. When I arrived to the girl's apartment it was so surreal. Shantell ran down to get me and said it; "You're in Rome."
It was nearly 11 PM when I settled in, and the night was young! While the girls organized our night, I wasted no time in changing and downing the cheap vodka I found on the kitchen table. Remember, when in Rome!
The night started with us arriving at a local bar, G Bar, and having the "Saturday Special." That meant two cocktails and two shots for 10 euro. I got the sense that a night out in Rome consists of bar crawls and constant claustrophobia. The bars here are very "cozy" and when you commit to getting a drink, you commit to standing there as long as it takes! Even if the queue is a 30 min wait. Walking to the next location, the club Sharivari, was a real mission. In Rome, it is all cobble all the time, and I had to make sure I didn't twist my ankle. I know it may sound like I'm vilifying this place, I swear I am not!
When we got to Sharivari I was beyond excited. The club looked like an exclusive venue, and everyone was dressed to a T. I was way underdressed.
The night went on like any night would, but only a lot more Italian. When I would pay attention to the music I realized it was different from any club music I had heard before. In America it's about pop, in the U.K. you got grime, but here it was very eclectic. One minute it was Calvin Harris and the next an Italian song I had never heard of. Definitely, if you have the chance to go out a night in Rome it's worth a try. The social scene here is it's own standard.
When we finally got home, I got some pasta and head to bed. Sunday was my tourist day, and I wanted to make sure I was ready.
Sunday afternoon I left the apartment and Shantel was my guide. I told her to take me to the most iconic places, and we wasted no time. We head to the Coliseum first. When I say I was in awe, I mean I couldn't speak for a good minute! I was in front of one of the most famous landmarks in the world. It was all stone, giant, and just gorgeous. After a lunch break, we preceded to head to the Pantheon.
Rome reminded me of London in the sense that getting to monuments was fairly easy. Most of the spots were close to each other. But each spot had its own aura. Where the Coliseum was open and grand, the Pantheon was in an alley. It was more secluded and it felt more intimate. People would stand in front of it an take in its beauty. Honestly, art history paid off because that is how I heard about this edifice.
Shantel was most excited to take me to the Trevi Fountain. I wanted to save this for the end, because I knew I would spend the most time there. When we got to the fountain I finally had my Lizzie McGuire moment!
The fountain was gorgeous and it felt magic! People stood near it with their partners, family, and some people went alone. Everyone was appreciating the presence of the grand sculptures, and getting their coins ready to toss in.
As Shantel explained to me, you turn around and toss the coin from the right hand over the left shoulder. The myth is that if you do this then you will return to Rome. I hope the myth is right because this weekend was just not enough!
If you had asked me 3 years ago what I would be doing, I would not have said studying in the U.K., and I never would have guessed going to Rome! I got to speak to the girls and we all shared the same sentiment. We could not believe that we were actually in Italy, let alone Rome. Rome is an ancient city that preserves its history. I could tell that Rome was the real deal, and it requires an appreciation for the culture.
A weekend was not enough time for Rome. But it was a good start!
Author William Samayoa
Marketer by profession and storyteller by passion. L.A. raised, proud Latino, and pop culture enthusiast.