The eternal city is often regarded as one of the most beautiful and timeless metropolitan areas in the world. With a complex history that spans over thousands of years, both tourists and locals are constantly being reminded of a time long ago through everyday Roman architectural structures. Simply put, Rome is the land of breathtaking vistas, sunsoaked streets, and wine that costs less than water. A description that is fitting for perhaps every city within the Italian peninsula. By those standards, many would agree that it’s hard not to fall in love with such a seemingly perfect place. Extend your trip a bit and you may realize that there’s more to the city than meets the eye.
Coming into Rome the expectations one may have in regards to the cuisine and wine may be through the roof, and rightfully so. Decadent plates of pasta and fresh oven baked pizzas can be found in nearly every fine dining establishment and trattoria. As the largest producer and exporter of wines in the world, expectations surrounding the fermented beverage should not falter either. As previously mentioned, the city’s abundance of historical monuments and traditional framework is quite remarkable. One could spend days or even weeks reading up on the lives and cultures of Romans in past centuries. It’s incredible to think that so much of what we learned as children is reflected or validated by the many structures and ruins littered throughout Rome. The overall beauty and charm exhibited in many of the tight cobblestone streets of the city is yet another quality that cannot fully be realized preceding one’s arrival. Photos taken within city parameters require minimal editing as the panoramic scenery appears to have come straight out of a fairytale.
Romans value tradition and culture over just about everything else. Finding locals that don’t strictly adhere to the conventional Italian way of life is a rarity and for that reason assimilating into the culture can be difficult at times. Things like eating on the go, showing too much skin, or walking just a tad too fast can easily warrant stares and looks of disapproval from Italians. The lack of sanitation in the streets of Rome can also be off-putting when experiencing the city for the first time. This is of course due in part to the influx of tourists Rome receives throughout the year but admittedly it can put a damper on the overall ambiance of the city. Good public transportation is hard to find and when in Rome you still won’t find it. The street trams and buses lack efficiency and reliability so it’s best to plan accordingly when traveling.
Taking all of these factors into consideration there are some aspects of Rome that simply can’t be replicated or undervalued. The ability to so easily travel throughout Europe at an inexpensive rate is unparalleled. Flying coast to coast in the United States can potentially cost an arm and a leg while flying to multiple countries within Europe on a budget is more than feasible and incredibly easy. The slow-moving pace of life and overwhelming sense of leisure in Italy may be enviable to some but mundane to others. But at the end of the day I’m sure most would prefer the laid back atmosphere of an aperitivo over happy hour.
2019. In collaboration with the American University of Rome.