All Roads Lead to Rome

Sitting in the sunny silence of my little Italian town, I think about the frenetic and beautiful days we spent in Rome on the weekend. My love for Rome has grown, it wasn't a city that I loved immediately, it took many visits to understand and appreciate the messy beauty that is Rome. Rome is not the first city I recommend to people planning to visit Italy. As an introduction to Italy, it's not a good choice because it's too big, loud, dirty, crowded and crazy. You need to ease yourself into Rome. I have visited the city 6 times now and it's taken me 6 visits to get it, to absorb it all. It's a raw place where nothing is hidden or covered up. The tourists are loud and abrasive and you need to be ready to fight for what you want. When we arrived in Rome on Friday night, we took transit to my boyfriend's brother's neighbourhood. We connected with him and met some of his movie friends (he's a top editor in Rome) at this really funky little aperitivo nook. A very popular hole in the wall where all the Italian hipsters hang out. For 3 euros, you're able to get a big plate filled with the best meat and cheese and because it's so popular, you're unable to sit at a table. Either you're lucky enough to have parked right in front and therefore use your trunk as a table, or you hunker down on the dirty sidewalk and enjoy you wine/spritz/beer and your huge aperitivo. We had already settled on a late night pizza and therefore did not stay. We then went to a pizzeria we'd been to last year with my dad, good and cheap and interesting people to watch. Like the strange couple that sat behind me with their cute little blonde boy. The boy was about 3, in a highchair and watching cartoons on his mom's phone as she spoon fed cheesecake to him (this was 11 at night). There were also children's birtday parties taking place where all the kids were definitely high on coca-cola. The drink of choice for a kids bday party at 11 at night. You know how it is.
The city is dense like a cheesecake and there is not one cm that is not inhabited by a person or a car. When you're there, you suddenly realize that you're standing where it all started and that feeling is a powerful one that everyone should experience once in their life. It's a metropolitan city, just like London, Toronto, New York. You can find people from all over the world and unlike the little town I live in, there is a big selection of different food, shops and so much to see. As beautiful as the city is, I also feel a heaviness that accompanies the city. Poverty is high and the poor people mostly consist of Gypsies and people who've come from Africa seeking something better and were sorely mistaken when they realized Italy is still growing and therefore not the most accepting place to strangers with different coloured skin. If you are a black man or woman in Rome, chances are very good that you make your living on the street, as it is in every place I've visited in Italy, but I will cover that topic another time.
I have a month left in Italy and there's a good chance that I will eat Italian food everyday. When we were in Rome, we ate Ethiopian food, which was a refreshing change and I hadn't eaten it before. After this weekend, I dream of a life in Rome. It's glamourous and it's crazy and the variety is infinite.
We were in Lazio (the region where Rome is located) for two days but we only spent one full day in Rome, which was ok with me because we headed west to the Tyrrhenian sea, a new body of water for me to dip my toesies into. Yesterday we spent the day in the seaside town of Anzio. We had a delicious and fancy fish lunch overlooking the sea. After, we lounged on the beach and soaked up the rays. We had a bus to catch at 9:30pm so we headed north along the coast to watch the sun set. The drive was long, winding and strange. At one point while driving in a dense green area with no buildings there was a prostitute sitting in a driveway on a white plastic yard chair and then just a couple of moments after, another young woman standing in the shadows to the side of the road smoking a cigarette. This is what I mean when I say that nothing is hidden. Prostitutes can be found night and day and it's very sad and it's jarring because it's something that I've only seen in the movies.
This is Rome: it's dirty, smelly, confusing and not always so friendly but it's so much more than those things, it's stunning, romantic, amazing and it's one of the most interesting cities I've ever known. When you step out of the tourist traps and into the unknown parts, that's where the adventures really begin to amaze you. 


Pesce Crudi - raw fish, at Truttocco Ristorante in Anzio, Lazio

Various Ethiopian dishes at Africa in Rome

Fried calamari and shrimp at Truttocco, Anzio.

Piazza Navona in Rome

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