On January 6th I moved to Rome for a study abroad program with three of my closest friends. Our seven person, tiny Italian apartment was in the heart of Trastevere on the West bank of the Tiber River. The neighborhood has a rich history having first been populated by fishermen and migrant communities– it’s peripheral proximity to the heart of the ancient city making it an ideal melting pot for rich communal ties to bloom. Away from the tourist center, Trastevere bolsters hearty supplies of traditional Roman cuisine: suppli, trapizzini, cacio e pepe, and fried artichoke are among my favorites.
Each morning we took the tram over the Tiber and got off just before Pizza Venezia. We then walked through the alleyways North towards campus. The cobblestones are ancient and uneven and due to Roman reluctance to pick up after their (adorable) dogs, you always have to watch your step. We walked past boutiques, mini-marts, art studios and restaurants while trying to avoid getting hit by speeding mopeds. Right before we would exit out of the cramped alleys onto the large street that lead to school, we would cross through the Piazza Campo di’ Fiori.
This Piazza hosts a daily open market selling everything from flowers, dish towels, assorted balsamic vinegars, fresh fruit and spices. The name translates to “field of flowers,” the market filling the square daily with that precise image. The salesmen are quite aggressive and when paired with the restaurant salespeople pacing the piazza perimeter, it can be too overwhelming to actually delve in amongst the tents. Throughout our time living here though, we made friends with some of the regulars and they began to recognize us each morning and afternoon on our walks to and from school. Once our appeal of “newness” had worn off, the harassment eased as well.
Just down the street from school is Piazza Navona (left) and the Pantheon (right). During a gap in between classes I would sometimes walk over with my lunch to sit and people watch in the sun. It is mind-boggling how something so massive and ancient could be so undisturbed and yet completely incorporated into the everyday routine of modern life.