Rome update

Ciao a tutti,

This blog is late because I’ve been so busy and consequently I have loads of things to write about. Make yourself a cup of tea or coffee before you start reading – I think you’re gonna need it.

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Last weekend we made a trip to Ostia Antica, which is an ancient Roman town and had been recommended to me by several different people. It’s a short train journey outside of Rome (about 20 minutes) and is covered under the monthly travel pass. (I actually lost my travel pass for March the day after I paid for it, and the receipt wasn’t enough proof to get a new one so I had to pay for it a second time. Ooops).

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Ostia Antica was awesome and I would highly recommend it. At 6€ for a concession ticket (10€ if you forget your student card) it’s well worth the trip, especially as you can stay as long as you like – and it’s huge. I’d recommend going on a sunny day and taking a picnic. It was so well preserved and amazing to be able to walk round real Roman streets and go into houses, theatres, temples and even bars. We downloaded Rick Steve’s free podcast to guide us around – his jokes were awful but it was free and it was really cool to find out some history about where we were. For example, there was an actual Roman gym there, pretty much the same as our modern day gyms but without the treadmills. There were steamrooms and baths and an open space where people would work out. Thousands of years may pass, but people don’t change.

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Tuesday was St Patrick’s Day, which isn’t celebrated hugely in Rome and actually I’ve never celebrated it before either. My only memories of St Patrick’s Day are of working extra shifts in the pub and wearing a Guiness t-shirt. This time, though, Shauna and I waited for ages by the Colosseum as we were promised it was going to be lit up green (it said it on the internet and everything on the internet is true). We were enraged to find that for some reason it was lit up green on the Monday rather than the Tuesday, so essentially the Colosseum just randomly went green for a few hours for no real reason and we missed it!

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After the Colosseum disappointment, we rekindled our spirits by going to an Irish pub after a visit to Lasagnam – a great Italian pun because ‘gnam’ is the equivalent of ‘yum’. The best way I can describe Lasagnam to you is to start with an image of McDonalds. Then completely change the menu so that it’s all made with good quality ingredients (i.e. real meat and roughly 10% of the grease). Then change the entire interior design so that it’s actually a nice place to be. Then add in that your food is made to order and brought to your table. Then imagine that the entire menu is made up of different types of lasagna. This week I had a carbonara lasagna and if you don’t think that sounds like the most perfect thing in the world then you’re wrong.

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On Friday I got to see my first ever eclipse – Martina and I looked at it through an x-ray folded over a couple of times. I won’t go on about this too much because I’ve heard it was basically impossible to see it from London… but if it’s any consolation, it was really really really cool. Did I mention that it was cool?

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I spent the rest of Friday signing up for the national library (which is huge) and trying out a new gelateria called Come il Latte, and while I felt awful for even considering a different gelateria to my (now regular) geleteria, La Romana, the ice cream was (dare I say it) possibly even better. I had a scoop of salted caramel ice cream and a scoop of apple cinnamon muffin. It was the best ice cream I’ve had so far. A picture speaks a thousand words in this case…

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On Saturday afternoon, we headed out to Open Testaccio which is a festival organised in part by one of Martina’s good friends, during which lots of different places in Testaccio (an area of Rome) open their doors and give free tours or exhibitions. Martina and I were busy sleeping, eating brunch and doing home workouts which meant we missed the fireman exhibition (huge sad face), but we did see a modern art exhibition (you all know how I feel about modern art) and we walked round what used to be a huge abattoir but has been converted into a space for festivals and concerts (you might not know my views on abattoirs but even though it’s quite a nice place now, I felt distinctly uncomfortable walking round it). There’s a lot of street art around there which is really cool, and there’s a huge hill called Monte dei Cocci which is essentially an ancient Roman landfill site which got so full that it turned into a huge mound which is still there today. Of course, it’s not usually open to the public and Martina and I managed to miss the guided tours, but even from the outside you can see all of the broken pottery that makes up the hill. I just love Roman history – everything is just so old.

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Later on, Emanuela had another concert on stage and she sang beautifully as always. Then there was a small party where we all had free pizza and wine; I met a lot of lovely people and the wine definitely helped my confidence when chatting in Italian. Martina and I left at around midnight and went for a spontaneous drive around Rome by night, including a quick stop at Gianicolo – the view from there is just so, so beautiful.

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Of course, it’s not all fun and games, I am actually supposed to be studying as well. My classes are going ok – at the moment I’m taking a history and a journalism course alongside my new Italian class, which starts soon. I’m also supposed to be taking French, but that hasn’t been confirmed yet. We need to speak to the head of department about it, so we arranged a meeting with him that was supposed to be on Tuesday – except that he didn’t turn up, even after we waited for 20 minutes. Not only that, but the office he directed us to via email didn’t even appear to be his. When I sent him another email afterwards, letting him know that we missed other classes to wait 20 minutes outside an office that didn’t have his name on it, he replied casually saying that his class overran that day and to come at a different time, as if he wasn’t in control of the fact that his own class that he was teaching overran by half an hour.

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On the plus side, I don’t really care. Martina made me very happy this week by saying I’ve truly adopted the Italian attitude – that is to say, coming home and complaining a lot about the system and its various incompetencies (of course incorporating as many Italian swear words as possible) and then, once it’s out of my system, accepting it because there’s nothing I can do to change it so why stress? And then promptly changing the subject to what we’re going to eat for dinner. I feel this is a good attitude to have when living in Italy, or, in fact, anywhere.

Anyway, that’s all for now folks. Lily arrives in Rome tomorrow and my dad and stepmum are coming next weekend, so I’m sure I’ll have loads to post about over the next week.

So until next time, un bacio,

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