Lifestyle & Travel -

Travel Diary: My First Three Days in Italy and Why I Didn’t Like Rome

Lifestyle & Travel -

Travel Diary: My First Three Days in Italy and Why I Didn’t Like Rome

My first delicious meal in Italy was made by this woman they just call “Mama”  – penne alla salmone, grilled prawns & insalata!

I really did NOT like Rome. There. I said it! I had no intention of even visiting Rome in the first place. My plan was to go straight to Florence, but NOOOO, everyone said: YOU MUST DO ROME and YOU CANNOT GO TO ITALY WITHOUT SEEING ROME and so I went there and guess what? I couldn’t stand it.

For the most part, my frustration with Rome was due to two factors:

  1. Rome is a big city and it feels like it. It felt so busy busy busy move move move like New York or DC to me. And that’s not really what I was looking for on this trip. Although I didn’t know it (what I was looking for, that is) until I got dropped down into the confusing fire pit city center that is Roma.
  2. It’s apparently high tourist season in Italy, so Rome is crowded. Very, very crowded. On the buses, on the trains, on the streets. There are WAY too many people walking around trying to do the same thing I’m doing. And no one seems to know where they’re going!

The Trevi Fountain in Rome – so beautiful but so crowded once you get there!

I did, however, enjoy a few things about Rome. Just a few.

Seeing How Real Romans Live

Real Romans eat Big Macs with parmesan cheese

Real Romans take the train…when it’s in service LOL. This train closure caused a lot of confused crowds!

I booked my rooms away from the city center, so I was able to better observe the locals. While in Rome, I stayed in two hostels that were more like B&Bs, both thankfully far away from the throngs of tourists. I can recommend both as being very clean and having warm, hospitable hosts. (Maybe I should do a list of brief reviews at some point of all the places I stayed at in Europe?) The first night I stayed at Zen House B&B (booked through Hostelworld) and the other two nights I stayed at Giulia’s Home Bed & Breakfast (booked through Airbnb).
I was able to walk around the neighborhoods, hear the language, and see where people went for coffee in the morning and gelato in the afternoon. Food is so cheap here! In Rome, many restaurants offer three-course meal deals for just $10 euro. The first night I was in Rome, my B&B host Giancomo took me and a girl from New Mexico who was staying in the hostel out to the local ristorante for pasta and wine. It was a great experience seeing what the local people eat and drink. Prosecco is quite popular as an apertif!
I also learned that unlike Greece, you really do need to know SOME Italian words and phrases to get by here. English is NOT the preferred language of 90% of the people I’ve met so far in Italy.

Shopping at a Real Italian Supermarket and Cooking My Own Dinner

What I bought at the Supermercati: fresh shrimp pasta, pesto & more!

I loved my experience going grocery shopping in the same store that the locals go to. I enjoy shopping for food in general, but everything was so novel to me. I must have spent a couple of hours in this store “oohing and aahing” LOL.

Photo Gallery: What an Italian Grocery Store Looks Like

I made shrimp pasta with pesto siciliana (red pesto)…once I figured out how to use the stove in the guest kitchen of the B&B! Plus bread, box wine and some leftover grilled veggies from a restaurant meal the night before.
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The fruits of my labor – a cheap, tasty meal in Rome!

On the third day…I rose and got my butt up OUT of Rome. I was tired from walking 10 miles getting lost in the city and ready to explore what the rest of Italy had to offer.

I took the $23 euro bus from Rome to Florence. The woman at the ticket counter kept trying to tell me that this particular bus would drop me off ON THE HIGHWAY and I should probably wait for the next one to come in about 5 hours. But I wanted to be OUT of Rome that very day and in Florence before nightfall, so I ignored her warnings and hopped on the bus that was leaving right then.

The bus dropped me off on the side of the damn road.

I was ON THE HIGHWAY, just like the woman at the counter said I would be. Cars whizzed by as I shook my head, laughing at myself. Why did I have to be so hardheaded? The bus driver instructed me to walk up the road a few minutes and wait a little while. There would be a city bus coming by soon that would take me into the center of Florence. “Number 37,” he said in stilted English. It was hot as a furnace outside and I had on jeans like a dummy. Sweat dripped down my chest. 20 minutes felt like an hour as I waited. And waited. I nearly ran to the bus as soon as I saw those two blinking numbers: 37. Just 15 minutes later and I was in the heart of Florence. Finally!

Of course, the first thing I do when I get off the bus is stop at a gelateria. As I stand outside to eat my little cup of strawberry sorbetto, the world once again feels light and refreshing, my gelato a cool reminder of how glad I am to be out of Rome and in Florence, capital city of the Tuscan region. It already feels like the Italy I’d imagined in my dreams.

Read my previous Travel Diaries:

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