You know that feeling you get, when you know you’re about to do the wrong thing, but you do it anyway…that’s my relationship with Rome. I know I shouldn’t go, but I just can’t seem to keep myself away.
The first time I went to Rome I was 20 and I lived there for the summer. It was my first time away from North America and I felt so independent and free. I went with a group from my university, so while I didn’t know anyone per se, I had network of people with me.
I got to see all the different sides of Rome – touristy, homey, foodie. I fell in love with the architecture, learned when to avoid the tourists, and ate inordinate amounts of my host mom’s cooking. I also ate gelato for lunch nearly every day.
Needless to say, I fell in love with the city. And to be honest, it’s probably impossible not to fall in love with your first international city.
And because of that, I keep going back. First, in 2013 I met my mom and sister there on holiday during my time in Ethiopia with Peace Corps. It was still the city I loved and remembered, but it was busier. Dirtier. I honestly didn’t really notice it because I was so happy to be back, showing it to my family.
I went again this summer with Chandler. He’d been once before and wasn’t a big fan…”Aren’t there too many tourists?” “Haven’t you seen all the sights?” “It’s going to be really hot.”
And like any good wife, I ignored him.
I was determined to prove him wrong. And I’m happy to say, sometimes I did. But honestly, sometimes I didn’t. This post is about the times that I didn’t, though I have plenty of wonderful things to share from our trip later on.
I came across this article a couple of weeks ago: These Hilarious Photos Show What Iconic Tourist Attractions Actually Look Like. And while the Sistine Chapel made the list, there were plenty of other places in Rome that also could have made the cut.
While living in Rome, I walked through Piazza Navona every day. Usually twice. My bus dropped me off nearby and the quickest way to my school was to cut through the piazza. At 7:30 am, I usually had the piazza to myself. Occasionally, I shared it with a street sweeper.
I took Chandler there at 10:30 am. Knowing that yes, the place gets pretty crazy at lunch and in the evening when the artists set up shop, but mistakenly thought we’d still be fine.
And Piazza Navona is hardly the worst offender when it comes to overcrowded places! Nonetheless, I’m never disappointed by the architecture in the square and the gelato shop around the corner.
Other mistakes(ish) we made: Passing through the Pantheon on the way to an absolutely incredible (and Michelin rated!) restaurant. The food was tasty (OMG the appetizer!), but the piazza was, of course, nonsense.
But, like usual, the architecture more than made up for the crowds. The worst was yet to come!