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10 Things I hate about Rome

10 Things I hate about Rome

I sit on the second floor of the library looking at the covers of books around me and find myself stumbling upon an English Italian dictionary when I really should be packing. Without any purpose, I flip to a random page in hopes of gaining knowledge of something in which I didn’t already know, but mostly to get my mind off of the fact that in three days I will be getting on a plane without a return ticket to Rome. I find my eyes meeting one word, perfect. “Perfect: having all the required or desirable elements, qualities, or characteristics; as good as it is possible to be.” First and only thing that pops in my head is the place around me, the place in which I’m soon to be leaving, Rome.

I find myself thinking back on the last 4 months, thinking of all the components that made up this experience. I think of the amount of trees I could have saved if Ryan Air didn’t make me print out my boarding pass each time I left for another country. I think of the calories I could have deducted if I didn’t go for that second gelato flavor multiple times a week. I think of the amount of shoes I could have worn for years if I hadn’t spent months walking numerous marathons along the cobblestone streets. I think about the amount of years I have added to my life because I spend my days laughing. Then, I think of how one day can change everything.

No place is perfect. Every city has a construction zone, a homeless population, trash in places other than a garbage can, bad weather, and tactics that you will never be able to understand. Every city also has its own specialty food item, generous individuals, a unique culture, and lingo that is unlike the rest. Places everywhere all have a foundation made up by the same principles. Although some have roads of concrete, while others place cobblestones under your feet, or some prefer carbs to healthy options all are fundamentally the same. Each place is different, but what makes the place I’ve come to call home so unique?

With the start of my last week already in full swing, I begin to attempt to justify that Rome cannot be perfect, and that although I have only raved about my experience studying abroad there is something I must truly hate about it. I think and think and think about the 100 days, about the board in the entrance of the John Felice Rome Center with everyone’s selfie on it from the first moment we walked on campus, about how my feet left footprints in 14 countries, about how when waking up in a week I will no longer be in Room 237 with Allison and how when getting on the airplane across the Atlantic I expected nothing.

I think back on the word “perfect” and look around me in hopes of coming up with something I hate. I’m brought to tears and nothing can stop it.


1. I hate that it’s a Roman tradition to have a Siesta.

 For now I’ve come accustom to never going out from 1 to 3pm everyday because I know every tabacchi, restaurant and store will be closed. I must accept that I can’t get a take away pizza down the hill from my favorite place, pick up pear juice from Simply or get my prescription from the pharmacy because it’s a time for everyone to take a break from the motions of everyday and relax because life deserves a break at times, just so you can keep going. It holds the intention of being a time when workers can take off in the middle of their workday to go home and enjoy time with their family, take a nap so they are fully ready to go out later that night before walking home at sunrise, and smoke a pack of cigarettes. It means that for the rest of my life when seeing 1pm on the clock I will think of the streets of Roman neighborhoods being empty and windows filled with families joined together in perfect harmony. No other place in the world does it, but Rome finds it necessary. It’s 120 minutes when everyone gets the chance to realize that work isn’t everything, that life isn’t about who’s more successful or makes the most money, that you must take time to reward yourself each day for your accomplishments, and that home is everything.


2. I hate that when sitting down for dinner you already know its going to take three hours.

Italians do not believe in eating quickly or eating little meals and find it necessary to include multiple courses for dinner, although they understand in taking calories that late in the day stay with you. Meals are not intended to be rushed, but instead are there to be savored. Due to this habit in Italy, it forces me to enjoy every bit of the food placed in front of me from the antipasti of bruschetta to the pasta dish followed by meat and potatoes to ending with a shot of lemonchello. It’s allowed me to experience the best food the world has to offer and taste each spice that comes my way. It’s given me Buffeta Pizza that literally has taken a pizza my heart, gelato crawls where I’ve experienced 18 flavors in one afternoon, and vino straight from the vines of Tuscany. Italy’s food has reminded me to not count my calories, but count my blessings. It’s not a time for rushing, but holds the intention of truly enjoying all aspects of life that others seem to forget. At the end of what can be a very eventful and busy day, it’s a time when I am reminded of how fortunate I truly am. Of how I have never ending amazing food placed in front of me when others around the world go hungry, about how it’s a time to get to know those sitting around the table with you because God brought them into your life for a reason, and about how in that moment everything is forgotten, except for what’s right in front of you so you must fully experience it. It’s a new habit that’s made my stomach, heart and mind nourished.


3. I hate that the words “Rome” and “Roam” sound the same.

For before even entering this city you know what you’re in for: a lot of walking and unknown destinations. The buses seem to only work when the drivers feel like it, so you’re forced to walk if you want to get anywhere. This without realizing it is the greatest blessing Roma has to offer. It not only allows you to embrace the carbs you are in taking because you walk a marathon daily, but enjoy life the way were all suppose to. It forces you to see every detail around you from the trees blossoming with wisteria, to the kids running in the school playgrounds, to the street performers playing the accordion, to the people riding four wheeled bikes in Villa Borghese. It allows you to feel the air around you, hear the joys of life through strangers, and see the world as it is from the cobble stone walkways. It reminds you that your destination is not a place, but a way of seeing things. It’s Rome’s special way of being. Rome gives you the beauty of roaming allowing you to accept that you are never lost, but simply going to the destination you didn’t know you were meant to be at. It encourages you to wander and see the adventure we all seek. It reminds you that life is one great adventure full of endless possibilities. It’s a constant example of one word having two meanings that constantly intertwine. It’s special to put it simply.


4. I hate that no matter where you are in the city you can always see the Vatican.

I’ve been given the opportunity to attend 6 Papal Audience Events, multiple masses in different churches around the city, and see people called to the religious rite daily. I’ve purchased rosaries in the bunches, said prayers in St. Peter’s Basilica, served God’s people through the Panini distributions on Fridays, been blessed by Papa Francesco and gotten lost in the beauty of the Sistine Chapel. I’ve completed the “To Do List” of all religious things in Rome, but found that while living here anywhere I go, I’ve been reminded to see God in all things; for if I turn to the right angle I can see the tip of the Vatican from any point in the city. Every day without trying, I’m reminded of how good my life has been due to God making it possible and how seeing the world is the greatest gift I’ve received. By living here I’ve been given a new appreciation of the religious component of my life and strengthened my relationship with Him and his people. I’ve seen the gifts God has given me in the center of the Catholic Church found within the walls of Vatican City and even through a little keyhole on top of Aventino Hill on the opposite end of the city. God has made me a part of this world that’s filled with beauty and I have full faith that wherever it takes me is where I’m meant to be. My current place of living has been the key of reminding me to stop my worries, praise the goodness of life and have faith in the world around me daily. It’s the Eternal City, reminding you that there’s more to life than what you’re living.


 5. I hate that Italian is the only language I hear.

There are three languages of love in this world, all of which I’ve learned at some point in my 20 years of living, but only one has been spoken while I’m dreaming. Italian, a language unlike any other because its hand motions are just as important as the words one is stating. Its sentences are faster than taxis; every vowel is emphasized no matter where it is placed and without trying it always sounds like you’re happy. I hate that I’ve learned Italian, for now I feel so connected to where I am that I can’t get myself to accept that I am leaving. Because of the knowledge I’ve gained by adapting to a world with a whole new vocabulary I’ve been given the opportunity to actually connect to the people and feel a part of the country. It’s not a place that even speaks broken English because it’s so absorbed in sticking with the Italian tradition that it brings you in as if you you’re one of them because you’re forced to try to speak it even if you came knowing nothing. By learning Italian I’ve learned the true Italian way and feel like I’m no longer a visitor, but one myself. It may not be my heritage, but has become a large part of who I am.


6. I hate my address being Via Massimi instead of one in the heart of the city.

By being placed on the top of the hill in Monte Mario looking down on the center of the city, I’ve seen Italy in a completely different way. Tourists see Rome, I see that and the neighborhood of Balduina with the locals smoking cigarettes at the bar at the corner of the street, with the workers at the grocery store Simply that ask if you have change for that 50 Euro every time you walk in, with the running path filled with Romans in parkas in the middle of spring. I see Rome from the neighborhood and that’s given me an even better reason to love it. I don’t live with tourists. I live with natives. I wait in the same Pizza e Kebab line they do, I go to the Tabacchi to get AS Roma tickets weeks before the games, I take the 913 or 990 down the hill into the city. I see Via Massimi and look for the green gates leading to the olive garden and orange trees, I make my way to the big brick building filled with all the friends I’ve come to call family and think of home knowing that at the end of every day that’s where life will lead me.

If it wasn’t for living on Via Massimi I wouldn’t have my own Roman Family for it’s forced me to come to know the 235 people living with me. Rome was the location of this experience, but the people who made memories with me were the reason why it gave my life so much meaning. It’s as if God brought together the top 200 individuals in this world and brought them into my life. I’ve yet to figure out why I got so lucky! Because of the members of the John Felice Rome Center community Via Massimi became more than address, it was home, but not just me, but everyone who had a key.


7. I hate that Rome is centered around Piazzas.

It shows that Rome’s more than a bunch of sites and is centered around people coming together regardless of their differences. It was the first thing while being here that made me feel like a Roman. I had my Peroni in hand, found myself sitting on the steps overlooking a neighborhood and simply observing, taking everything I can in. There’s Piazza di Santa Maria in Trastevere filled with young people every night of the week bar hopping, there’s Piazza Navona crowded with tourists, restaurants and struggling artists, there’s Piazza di Spagna with flowers and groups of people lounging overlooking Via del Corso filled with people and shopping bags, there’s Trevi where all those with wishes find themself at, and there’s Piazza Cavour with people leaning on the palm trees in front of the courthouse. When navigating around Rome one finds themself using Piazza’s as their benchmark, for they are all unique found in different neighborhoods all known for something completely different. Whatever neighborhood you go into, you find something that gives it meaning. You take 5 minutes of your day and automatically discover what it is that makes that area so unique. You are welcomed into Rome’s core of bringing people together and without realizing it get lost in the music of the street performers, variety of people, and ancient beauty. It welcomes you with open arms and shows you that there’s more to Rome than just the buildings.


8. I hate that ruins out number the amount of people.

For you can’t appreciate where you’re going, until you know where you’ve been. Rome reminds you that you must cherish the past because it made you into what you are today. It brings history into your life every time you turn the corner and gives you a whole new view of what the world used to be. It makes you neighbors with the Colosseum, Roman Forum, Julius Caesar and Augustus. It reminds you that so many people came before you that have effected where you are standing right in this moment and it reminds you of what effect you will have. It’s like signing up for a history lesson every time you want an espresso, and gives you a resting place at the homes of ancient cities and world leaders. It takes you back centuries and ruins everything you know, giving life a whole knew outlook and meaning. It’s Rome and without trying, if you look at the rubble you can’t help, but get a whole new outlook on where the world has been.

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9. I hate that when looking at a map it’s close to so many other countries.

Greece. Hungary. Slovenia. Denmark. Sweden. Spain. Czech Republic. Germany. The Netherlands. Belgium. France. Austria. Serbia. Italy.

It’s because of Rome that I’ve been given the opportunity to see the goodness of each of these countries, to not see the world from a map, but with my own eyes, my own feet, my own being. I’ve seen all regions of the country I’ve come to call my own, enjoying Chianti Classico in Tuscany, Michaelangelo’s David in Florence, the views of the sea from Cinque Terre, the postcard perfect southern delight that is the Amalfi Coast, written my letter to Juliette in Verona, held up the leaning tower of Pisa, watched Mount Edna erupt in Sicily, enjoyed a gondola ride in Venice, saw glass being made on the island of Murano, explored the hometown of Leonardo di Vinci, saw the most colorful houses in the world off the island of Burano, walked through the 17 towns that made up Siena and ate what many would consider the best pizza in the world from Naples. I explored the country I’ve come to call home and realized just how special it is to have an address with my name on it in Italy. In between all of this I found myself spontaneously planning trips around Europe landing my feet in different countries with different groups of people almost every weekend. It wasn’t to see how many places I could go within a four-month period, but more that the travel bug bit me when arriving and I couldn’t find a cure to the disease. I fell in love with the life I was living, the cities I discovered, and people I was meeting. I left a piece of my heart all around Europe and changed the course I thought my life would be taking. I’ve left Rome for the Acropolis, thermal baths, Nyhavn, Swedish meatballs, the works of Gaudi, the John Lennon Wall for peace, canals of Amsterdam, World War II, Belgium waffles, the Eiffel Tower, classical music, and family. I traveled not to escape life, but for life not to escape me. Because of Rome, I was given more than a home, I was given the world having the opportunity of a lifetime to experience it fully.


10. But mostly, I hate the way I could never hate Rome, no matter how hard I tried because it made me into the person I’ve always wanted to be.

Gandhi once said “be the change you wish to see in the world”, but how can you change the world if you haven’t seen it? I came into this experience thinking it was my opportunity to change the world, but instead it changed me.

I came in search of finding the world’s greatest foods, hidden gems, and roads less traveled, but instead found myself, what made me happiest, and why it is life is worth living. I just went and saw everything around me, met as many different people as I could, followed maps to their edges and then kept going. I never had a plan, but somewhere in between the airplanes, endless nights out, pesto gnocchi, multiple introductions, becoming the “social butterfly” of JFRC, 4th glass of vino, winning the Calcio League Championship with team Rosa and Italian speaking 4 months happened. This adventure awaited me and I’m so fortunate that I found it. I owe everything to this city, to the people who experience these past four months with me, to the John Felice Rome Center, and to my family. I experienced the world to it’s fullest and lived a life far better than my dreams, I’m still in denial that this is ending but will forever cherish the laughs, lessons, experiences and unforgettable memories for as long as I live. Life was meant to be one great adventure, and this was mine.

It took one day in the Eternal City for it to have my heart for an eternity. Rome became my home and will always be with me for it gave me life a whole new meaning and made me into the person I’ve always wanted to be.

Ciao for now as I enjoy my last few days in the city

that’s given “Gabs Great Adventure” all its meaning,

Gabriella Lunich

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