Right now I’m sitting in the walled garden that is part of our building. We share it with the convent next -door. There is a gurgling fountain, olive trees, pomegranates, lemons, etc.: all the basics for an adorable Italian oasis.
It still hasn’t sunk in that I’m in Rome. Or that I’ll continue to be in Rome for longer than a couple days this time. Every so often there are moments when it really hits you and yet it all seems like I’m living inside a dream.
Getting off the plane was like walking into another world. I was freezing on our flight even though I was wearing jeans, a sweater, scarf, and winter boots. Then we exited the plane to palm trees and what felt like 85 degree weather.
The strange occurrences continued when the customs worker berated me for coming to study history (she snorted and called me “typical”) instead of science or Italian (“ridiculous”).
I was traveling with two other girls who happened to book the same flight. After going to baggage claim we were really surprised when one of us was accosted by this Italian man who wanted to know who we were and from where we were traveling. We were all skeeved out for a moment until she realized that the man was Massimo, the brother of her dad’s friend. Previously she had been to dinner at her father’s friend’s house and had been assured her that “Massimo will take care of you,” but after hearing nothing else about it she assumed we were on our own. So instead of taking a taxi, we were driven squished into a Fiat-of course- with all our luggage. He was the nicest man and a wonderful introduction to modern Romans!
My room is pleasant enough. Of course it’s small, but I was expecting much worse. Especially because our building is located in a trendy area of Rome called Trastevere (which literally means across the Tiber). We have a beautiful window which overlooks our terrace and walled garden. It’s one of those fancy Italian ones with working shutters.
Since I just got here this morning (5 a.m. East Coast Time), I have not had the chance to explore much yet. For dinner I wandered the area around our building with some other girls in the program. I hadn’t really eaten since the day before so the gelato and pizza we picked up was a delicious reprieve! So good that it was definitely worth the shame of pointing at what I wanted with only a “per favore” and a “grazie” at my extremely limited disposal.
I’ve been talking with some of the lovely people in my program and I think we are going to explore Rome tomorrow.