When In Rome...
Up until this weekend my idea of Italy was little more than pasta, gelato, Vespas, and the Italian Job. While pasta and gelato still encompass a significant portion of my Roman experience, I’ve come to understand that Italy has much more to offer. To give a quick history lesson, Rome is the capital of Italy, one of the most populated cities in the EU, and treasures over 2,000 years of history. Religious and secular come together within the city limits. Michelangelo’s frescos can be found inside sacred spaces on side streets. Pagan ruins are so prevalent they aren’t given second thought. During a walking tour of Rome our tour guide proclaimed that Rome is much like lasagna. There are physical layers of history. Beneath the current road was an old one, beneath which is another. Layer upon layer of history, cherishing tales, traditions, and treasures.
If I’m being completely honest, I’m not too interested in history. While I recognize the importance of context, and the benefit of studying the past to ameliorate the future- I struggle to rest in the past. Yet, walking through the streets of Rome, history came to life. I couldn’t help but think of the famous figures that roamed the streets: Augustus, Nero, and Vespasian. Rome felt different from any other city I’ve visited. The whole ambiance of Rome carries energy of the past- the Colosseum still shares stories of the Gladiators while Vatican City caused me to marvel at the sanctity of St. Peter’s Basilica. Most of all, Rome exemplifies the importance of aesthetic appeal. The city invoked a wow within my being. The art and architecture is balanced, ornate, and fantastic. The food is friendly and filling. The weather is gentle and warm. It was a beautiful place, and I would love to go back.
I was able to spend my time in Rome with two of my favorite people, Olivia and Hannah. Both go to Wheaton College with me. Travel can be chaotic and exhausting so it was nice to share my time with people I know well. They are both forward thinking enough to create a Google Doc that held the priorities of each day: attractions, restaurants, places to get coffee, foods to try. It was, in my mind, a treasure map. There were multiple times during the trip when we struck gold. One of these times was when we visited Come il latte. Now, we had gelato every day during our trip (twice), but this place trumps them all. Before we went into each location, we made sure their product matched our standards.
Rule #1: no mounds. If the gelato was lumpy, it was saturated with preservatives and chemicals. We were looking for the real deal.
Rule #2: we weren’t willing to pay more than three euro. Italians are generous and their prices are cheap.
Rule #3: there had to have a little something extra. At one gelato stop this meant dipping the cones in chocolate. At another it meant coffee whipped cream. At Come il latte it meant filling the cone with dark chocolate from a spout on the wall. Honestly, the whole experience was what dreams are made of.
Rome went quick, but we were able to visit the majority of tourist attractions. We rented bikes, hiked through some parks, ate at some fun restaurants, and reminded ourselves of the special opportunity it was to travel through new countries with old friends and collect memories that we’ll never forget.