EuropeItalyRome

Alone and Rome-ing

Rome Travel Blog

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I knew I was back in Italy when I saw a gelateria across from a United Colors of Benetton on every corner. And considering two-thousand-year-old ruins served as the backdrop, I knew I was in Rome.

My decision to come to Italy was last minute. I spent the summer of 2002 touring the country as a student and questioned if my time now would be better used exploring new areas. But a good volunteer opportunity arose in a town I've never seen and the lure of the familiar language and culture was too much to resist.

So here I am. Staring at the Colosseum, eating gelato and breathing in the dirty goodness that is Italy. With vespas whisking by at breakneck speeds, the continual creation of new car-lanes at the drivers' convenience and the wandering eye and friendly greeting of shopkeepers inviting me in for a bite.


There's something amazing about seeing the new city mix with the old. And knowing Rome's "new" still makes America look like an infant. I filled my albums with every angle of the Colosseum, piazzas and fountains on the previous trip, so this was more an opportunity for simple observation. That, and taking other people's pictures. Apparently, as a solo traveler, my true calling is to be the one that everyone hands their camera to and smiles with their friends as I snap away. I'm happy to help when I can, but the salt in the wound of loneliness creeps deeper with every shot. I get it...I'm available. I obviously have nothing better to do or anyone to do it with. Give me your damn camera.

Even crossing the streets reminds me of my aloneness. There aren't really crosswalks here. Just faded zebra stripes and brave pedestrians.
gelato by trevi fountain
Practiced locals step into the oncoming traffic with unconcerned ease and simply stare down the approaching vehicles, willing them to stop. The less courageous tourists are more hesitant. Pausing on the sidewalk until there is a stockpile of pedestrians, sticking to the principle that there is safety in numbers. When you're alone (aka, without another body to act as the human bumper were you to get hit) the act of street-crossing elevates to extreme sport status.

I had hoped my one day in Rome would be spent with a couchsurfer, offering up the insider information I missed the first time around. But as my plans seem to be made at increasingly last-minute moments, no one rose to the role. So much for befriending a charming Massimo or Giovanni or something equally wonderfully Italian. Instead, it was Danielle and Joe--an Australian and Englander, respectively--at a hostel.
spanish steps
It was either that or 1) a night in the Rome train station, leaving at 6am for the small town of Magione, or 2) leave for Magione at 11pm, with a 5-hour stopover in an even smaller town circa 1am. I surrendered my adventurousness and opted for the more comfortable hostel option and actual opportunity to sleep.

My quick trip to the metropolis was enough to remind how great it is and how happy I am to be back in Italy. It was also enough to prove how "over" crowded, tourist-filled streets and monuments I am at the moment. Shoving through all the English and German speakers strengthened my desire for a break. Italian countryside, here I come.


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gelato by trevi fountain
gelato by trevi fountain
spanish steps
spanish steps
old and new rome
old and new rome
Rome
photo by: vulindlela