When in Rome…
Special Contributor(s): Emily Lewis
My experience in Rome has been amazing! I have learned so much about Italian lifestyle and culture. My favorite part of every day is my morning cappuccino and croissant, you can find them on any street in Rome. Their breakfasts are supposed to be sweet to give you a quick burst of energy, unlike in America where we have eggs or toast for protein. Their coffee portions are a lot smaller than in the States which makes it more convenient to space out your caffeine over the day gradually instead of multiple shots of espresso in your morning coffee like many people get at Starbucks.
After breakfast, I usually eat pizza, pasta, or go back to my apartment to cook a meal. One thing to be prepared for is to eat a lot of pasta and pizza. Not only because it tastes great and cheap, it is also the easiest food to find. My favorite pasta place is called Pastasciutta, it is a cheap takeout pasta place near the Vatican that has six euro pasta and it is amazing.
Another difference in meals is how late people eat dinner here. People usually have an aperitif, which is going to a bar/café before dinner to have an alcoholic drink, like an Aperol Spritz, that aids digestion and it is meant to be had before a meal. Then around 7:00pm (here they use what we know as military time, so 7:00pm is actually 19:00) restaurants open.
Italian dinners are meant to be multiple courses starting with an appetizer. I usually get focaccia bread or Suppli, a fried rice ball with tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese inside. Then you get pasta, meat, and dessert. I usually just get pasta and save room for Gelato.
One of the best things about living in Rome is the public transportation. There is never a need for a car, and I have only had to take a taxi if I was running late. There are trains and buses always nearby, and getting around is nearly self-explanatory. When I am taking public transit, it is like time stops. Unlike when you are driving a car, time passes very quickly because you are watching for your stop and maybe waiting for the next bus or train. When you aren’t using public transportation, it is very easy to get everywhere just by walking if you want to. There are sidewalks and walking paths everywhere, and the landscape is pretty flat, although Rome is huge so you might want to use transit. Beware of using electric scooters, the roads are cobblestone and you will most likely get a headache from a bumpy ride.
As far as Covid-19 in Italy, I actually felt very safe. At first everyone had to wear masks everywhere, including outdoors. I never felt like I was exposed to anyone except for my roommates and I felt safer than I do in the States because of the vaccination rates here and everyone wearing masks. I am glad that Covid-19 restrictions did not get in the way of this trip, because it is being handled very well and taken seriously in Italy.
I have learned a lot during this trip about Roman architecture and have enjoyed all of the classes, especially the walking tours of ancient Roman ruins. Experiencing Italian culture has been an extremely rewarding experience that I have grown from. I will always remember my time here and look forward to returning in the future.
*Edited and condensed for clarity
For more information regarding this student’s specific program, check out the program brochure: Italy: Architecture Semester in Rome.