A Journey Through Italy

Our time in Rome has nearly come to an end. It has been such a wild and fascinating ride but I can honestly say I am ready to explore a new country. Nathan and I arrived in Rome in the beginning of December, ready to explore all that Italia had to offer. His Aunt Kawinzi accepted us into her home, allowing us to stay as long as we wanted to stay – which ended up being around a month’s time. We will be forever thankful for having the luxury of staying in Rome without having to pay for accommodations.

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The beautiful view of Aunt Kawinzi’s terrace

Upon landing, we felt a sense of comfort and welcome, even amid the language barrier we both experienced. We were bombarded by taxi drivers spitting whatever English they could at us to get us inside their car at their “very special price”. I heard one man say something in Spanish, and I responded in Spanish to him (as I am fluent in the language). This man, though he was Italian, spoke enough Spanish for us to have a conversation and agree on a reasonable price for our cab ride to Kawinzi’s house. It ended up being a very pleasant (albeit bumpy) ride, along with three Australians and a Brazilian couple who I bonded with, as they spoke Spanish as well.

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Incredible pasta from MonteCarlo’s in Rome city center

Having no idea what to expect from Italy besides pasta, cheese, and wine, we commenced our exploration. We came to discover that our expectations about Italy were pretty much the truth (at least when it came to the food). Almost every meal consisted of pasta, cheese, and wine – or at least one of the three. Once we arrived to Aunt Kawinzi’s place, we were warmly greeted and presented with a big, fresh bowl of pasta with tomato sauce. After almost 24 hours of traveling, we were grateful to not have to search for food on arrival. That first night, we slept approximately 18 hours (traveling can be absolutely exhausting).

In the past weeks we have been here, we have consumed an insane amount of pasta and pizza – and I have no regrets. However, there were plenty of days and nights when Nathan and I were completely sick of Italian food. We searched (thank you Google) and ended up finding a couple really solid Irish pubs here! There’s a surprisingly large Irish population here, and they can almost always be found at the local pub serving imported beers. We thoroughly enjoyed our Guinness, Kilkenny, and beef in Guiness with mashed potatoes.

Some of the most fun adventures we had included seeing the amazing ancient Colosseum, the headquarters of the Roman Catholic church – the Vatican, taking the high-speed train to Florence and exploring its outdoor leather markets, and simply taking the buses around Rome’s city center to see where we could find the best food. We took the “slow train” (cheaper, less convenient option) down to Naples for a day trip, which didn’t end up being one of our favorite stops. The area around the train station in Naples is quite run-down and not very pretty to look at. The silver lining was the incredible pizza we got to scarf upon arrival. Side note: almost all Italians eat their pizza with a fork and knife, because it’s so watery from the fresh mozzarella cheese. Still so delicious.

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The Colosseum: the world’s largest amphitheater

The Colosseum is a pretty surreal experience, and it’s difficult to put it into words. It didn’t cost much for us to get in, about €12 each. Besides being barraged by a Senegalese man trying to sell us bracelets and statues of (Indian) elephants, we got inside within about 10 minutes. I am really not one for “tourist sites” – I prefer the local scene almost 100% of the time. However, the Colosseum is one exception I would recommend everyone experience at least once in their life.

There is really way too much to say about Italy to fit inside one post. I just wanted to provide a little snippet of our adventures here. I do wish we would have had the time to visit Venice and the Dolomites mountain range up north, but there will be time for that in the future. For now, we are looking forward to moving on to Amsterdam this coming weekend, and then our long-anticipated trip to Thailand.  So excited for our next adventure!!!

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