The other day a friend in Miami, messaged me saying, “What the heck, Taylor! I have gotten zero updates on your blog.” I realized that I’ve sort of neglected this project for the past 3 months, but I am determined to get back into it! So though it is incredibly late, here’s my attempt to catch up on the last few months of my life. I’ll start where I left off — with New Year’s in Rome.
I arrived in Rome two days before the New Year full of idealistic hopes. My trip was planned for 6 days in “The Eternal City,” with images of Julius Caesar and Constantine coming to mind. When I arrived at 9:45 pm, however, I seemed to surrounded by a different breed of Italians: pissed off ones waiting for their baggage. I mulled through Fiumicino Airport and managed to find a shuttle to Termini Station and then found my way to the proper metro. When I got off at S. Giovani to find my hostel, it was nowhere to be found. I followed and re-followed the directions of my hostel online, but I still could not find it. My watch neared closer to midnight, and I was still hopelessly lost, so as the resourceful young man that I am, I began begging people for directions. Most people bluntly brushed me off after hearing my sad “Scusi?” but finally I saw two travelers in the distance and ran to them! They were to be my saving grace! They called my hostel and helped me get my bearings before I went off. I found my way to Dreaming Rome Hostel, which was flamboyantly decorated with pink boa scarfs, white Christmas lights, and sparkly ornaments. After meeting the hostel’s owner, I understood why. His name was Fabio, and though he bore no ressemblance to the bodybuilder you may have in mind, he did have a penchant for coiffing his hair.
The next day I met up with David & Travis, two Australian friends who were meeting me for a few days in Rome. They told me that just the night before, 3 Italian guys asked Travis for the time. When Travis went to check on his iPhone, they punched him in the face, stole his phone, and ran off. Today, when I saw him, he didn’t look too bad, so we decided to put it behind us and see the town.
As soon as we started walking and saw the gigantic Monument of Vittorio Emmanuelle II, we realized what it was like to be in Rome – to be standing in front of something so immensely beautiful and have no idea what we’re looking at. This happened to us over and over again throughout our trip, as so many supremely beautiful buildings and monuments are scattered everywhere throughout the city. To native Romans, they are merely traffic obstacles, but to the mass of tourists during New Year’s, we swarm to each site like fat kids on cake. In fact, when David, Travis, and I went to meet Gianna, our friend and a native Roman, at the Trevi Fountain, we practically had to beat people off to get through the crowds. Nevertheless, I made it to the front, made a wish, and threw a coin in! (No, I won’t tell you what I wished for!) As a group, we then walked to a café, through Piazza Navona, and saw the beauty of the Pantheon, a temple for the ancient gods of Rome.
The following day, I met Gianna at Circo Massimo, the area in Rome where her family lives. She invited me to lunch at her house, but first we needed to buy some ingredients. Gianna showed me around her neighborhood, including Circo Massimo, a giant chariot racing stadium, and together we went to the local grocery. Slightly nervous but pleased by the invitation, we walked to Gianna’s house where I met her parents, and brother and sister. She lives in a beautiful home with her family’s artwork framed all over the walls. Not more than an hour later, we had a Mexican feast, consisting of Mexican lasagna (think spicy enchiladas!), chili salsa, Jamaican hibiscus tea, champagne, and Aztec cake and espresso for dessert. By the end of the meal, I was immobilized.
Forcing myself to move, I thanked Gianna’s parents and left with Gianna to glimpse the Colosseum and the Italian Forum. We strolled along the Italian Forum, when a band started playing. The drumbeat plus the Mexican family inhabiting my stomach nearly sent me into euphoria. For a brief moment I felt infinite.
That evening was New Year’s Eve, so I continued the feast with David & Travis at a proper Italian restaurant. I tried my best to finish a 1/2 pint of white wine, provolo & bacon bruchette, and pesto ravioli, but to no avail. After dinner, we made it to the Colosseum. There, right in front of the Colosseum, people were tossing firecrackers into the streets, breaking bottles, and cheering loudly. Moderately terrified, I made it into the crowd and saw as the New Year’s fireworks blazed majestically into the sky. They were amazing!
Over the next two days, David, Travis, and I did some more sightseeing and devouring of Italian cuisine. On New Year’s Day, we walked back to the Colosseum to see the damage from the night before. From there, we passed through some badass ruins, tipped (and posed with) beggars and street musicians, and ascended the Spanish Steps to Pincho, to the top of Rome.
On my last day in Rome, I took myself to Vatican City. I wandered around St. Peter’s Square, bemused, and thought it was pretty cool that I was in two different countries at once. I was going to go into the Basilica, but when I saw the massive line, I opted against it and decided to head to the Vatican Museum instead. It was massive and extradinary! I saw incredibly detailed sculptures, tons of statues without penises, embalmed mummies, and at the very end, the Sistine Chapel. It was a really interesting and impressive museum and a cool way to end New Year’s in Rome.