Earlier this year, I was lucky enough to experience an Italian summer. But as someone who normally maxes out at 28C, I found 35C rather difficult to stomach. However, I cannot deny the beauty and amazing experiences that came with that immense heat. I was there for quite some time, so I figure I should start from the beginning. And in this case, the beginning was Rome.
My mother and I landed in Rome international airport after 28 hours flying, tried and excited to explore. It didn’t seem to occur to us that we were really here for a little while, even in the taxi to our hotel, I gazed mindlessly out the window. Marveling at how different the trees looked, and how even the air seemed to taste like summer on the tip of my tongue.
When we arrived at our hotel, sweaty and sleep deprived, we were surprised to see the great powder blue dome of St. Peter’s Basilica only a stones throw from our window. The bells tolled as the hour rolled on in, and I looked upon the city with wide eyes. I was finally here. The place I had dreamed about visiting for so long. My heart swelled, as did my chest as I took in a deep breath of that hot summer air. So after unpacking our bags and taking a well deserved shower, we were off to explore the eternal city of Rome, and all she had to offer us.
Our first stop was St. Peter’s Square. And true to our previous deduction, it was no more than a five minute walk from the front door of our hotel. It was a sight to behold in the earlier hours of the morning, before the great rush of tourists who weren’t quite out of bed yet. Mum and I took our opportunity, snapping photos here and there, browsing the shops while they were still quiet. Even scoring ourselves some gelato at a shop just down the road.
In fact you would be hard pressed to not find a gelato store on every street, as well as a pizzeria. As well as a shop filled with cheap toys and souvenirs, for elderly sunburned tourists to take home and place on their mantlepiece, to gather dust for all eternity. Even though it was a repetitive scene, it has a certain familiar charm to it.
Once the clock ticked on to midday, it the streets were like rivers of people. Tourists and locals rushing to their various locations, not only on the sidewalks, but the roads. The scooters crowding to the front of the line at the red lights, and then zipping off in front of the cars as soon as the light was green. The traffic was madness. I thought the drivers here in Nelson were crazy. If that is the case, then Roman drivers are clinically insane. No lanes, no indicating, no general sense of order. Just chaos. But yet, we didn’t see a single crash, nor person knocked flying from their scooter. So I simply assumed, that the people of Rome must surely have some kind of secret system that I was just simply not aware of.
And while Rome was certainly the busy bustling city, you could always find a quiet place. No matter the time of day. All you had to do was walk down a few side streets, and bam. There would be next to no one there, and more often than not a gelato shop, or a cafe in which you could grab a quiet shot of espresso. Once you were away from the main streets, Rome was suddenly very relaxed, and moved at her own gentle pace.
However the evening was my favorite time. The sun wouldn’t usually go down till well after 10pm, so there were plenty of daylight hours with which to enjoy your evening to its fullest. Our first dinner was at this quite bubbly place on the main street, that had some of the freshest salad and yummy bruschetta I’d had. We even sat next to a nice couple, who were also on holiday, that gifted us their limoncello after the meal. And the head waiter was the pinnacle of great hospitality who we shared some jokes with, even giving both Mum and I a hug when we left to retire for the evening.
The first few days we spent in Rome were something special. I hope to return one day to that stunning eternal city. And I hope to meet just as many friendly and fun people as I did in this trip. Perhaps in the future, I will plan it better. And I doubt that next time I will be traveling with my mother. While I love her, I was frimly reminded why I moved out of home. But when I hopefully arrive in Roma again, I look forward to looking out across the skyline and seeing the great blue dome of St. Peter’s Basilica lording above it all, once more.