The walking tour of Rome began after we had gotten settled into our rooms in the hotel. We walked down past a bus station and a train station and we started to head into Rome. We seemed to be in the “ghetto”/sketchy parts of the area, but it really wasn’t too bad. We walked more into the city and went into some churches. These churches were amazing! I couldn’t believe that the churches we were going into were just normal, everyday churches in Rome. I mentioned to one of the girls, “Hey, if churches looked like that where I lived, I wouldn’t mind going…” The architecture of the buildings and the art… absolutely astonishing. The ceilings of the churches seemed to go on forever! So high, so beautiful. One of the kids in our group even said, “When in doubt in a church, look up.” I’d say that is a very true statement for the churches in Italy that I have seen thus far. When we were outside the church we were all bothered one-by-one by a man asking for money for his poor sick child so that he could eat. Considering the man had gold teeth and quite the tummy, we all assumed that this was just a ploy to get tourists’ sympathy and money. Finally, our professor has to come up to him and tell him to leave. Afterwards, Marcello (our professor) warned us about the gypsies; this was only the first encounter, many more were to follow. I’m used to beggars in NYC but in Rome, it’s so much more different. They will not leave you alone, and they will make you feel like shit, and curse at you when you don’t give them anything.
After the panhandler incident, we were off walking again. I didn’t know where we were headed and just followed the professor, only a step or two behind him. We start to head down this one alley and suddenly something caught my eye. “Is that…?” “Sì, that’s the coliseum,” my professor responded before I could even try to finish what I was saying. I was dumbfounded. I couldn’t believe that I was actually in Italy and actually seeing it. We didn’t go inside, which was a shame, because for some reason it was closed that day. Even so, it was still awesome to just walk around it and soak in all the history around me. We kept venturing around Rome and saw the Unknown Soldier’s tomb, along with a few other things around that area. We made it back to the hotel a bit later, and ended up going out to eat in one of the restaurants right around the block. My main concern was being able to watch the Italy v. Germany match. We sat down, and the game was going to start in a few minutes. So, we ordered, and the food came around the time that the game started. Out of the whole group, and besides the local Romans, I seemed to be the most animated during the game. When Balotelli won the game for Italy, Rome went crazy. People were honking their horns and yelling in the streets until the early hours of the morning. We decided to walk around Rome that night for a little bit just to take it all in. I cannot even describe to you the feeling of being in Italy after that win. I was sooo elated!
The next couple of days, we continued to roam around Rome and see all the major tourist attractions such as the Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps, the Pantheon, etc etc etc. We also continued to get badgered by all of the gypsies and get rip off my restaurants and street vendors. One of the girls who had been here in Pisciotta last summer knew a little more Italian than the rest of us and was bartering with this one guy about a knock-off bag. He started off at €45 and somehow she got him down to €23. When she went into her wallet to pay the guy, he was looking in it and telling her, “Dammi tutti!” or “Give me all of it!” Ridiculous.
The nights in Rome were all the same. I’d stay in to try to update my blog and catch up on some sleep, and nearly every other person, besides this one quiet girl, would go out to the bars and clubs in Rome and get smashed. I mean, hey, do what you want, but damn. They would spend so much money and get so smashed it was ridiculous, and I also find it immature. Sure, we’re all in college, we’re all young, but have some respect for yourself and for the school and professor you’re representing. Sorry, now I’m getting off topic and I sound like a strict old nanny…
On our last day in Rome, we went to the Vatican. The wait to get into the Vatican was about an hour and half in 95 degree weather. It wasn’t too bad actually and went a bit quicker than we thought it would. Everything about the Vatican was breathtaking, including the intense heat and amount of people who were there; because of this, even though the Vatican is huge, I became a bit claustrophobic , and near to fainting. Still, it was the Vatican and how often is one at the Vatican? The Sistine Chapel was gorgeous but the fact that there were so many people there took away from its splendor. I wish I had been able to go there at some point in which it was empty. Wandering the Vatican while it’s empty must be like a dream. We went over to St. Peter’s Basilica… I walked in and was in awe. I could barely speak and had goosebumps. Its beauty completely overwhelmed me. Unexplainable. I saw the original Pietà and rubbed the foot of the St. Peter statue. I’d have to say that it was my favorite tourist attraction that I saw in Rome. It wasn’t as crowded there either.
Since it was our last night in Rome, the girls and I decided to wander around a bit more. We ended up finding this amazing gelato place, which apparently the oldest gelato factory in Italy. I ordered in Italian and the guy asked where I was from. I told him that I came from the United States and asked why I was speaking in Italian. I was speechless yet again. My automatic reaction was, “Uh, cause I’m in Italy.” It’s ridiculous. I’m a bit depressed at how much of a tourist trap Rome has become. Nonetheless, it was still astounding.