Last spring Trever and I were in Rome for a Holiday. I had been to Rome before when I was backpacking in college, but it doesn’t really count because it was tainted by the fact that we were pretty much out of money. We would be buy a loaf of bread at the grocery story and eat the bread 3 meals a day until we ran out. Yes, I’m serious, I’ll show you pictures one day.
When we went back I decided to do some research on the best places to stay and areas to visit in the city. My goal in travel is always to experience a city as close to the way a local does as possible - sooo douchy, I know. So I had a recommendation to look into an area of the city called Trasteverde. It’s on the south west (Kanye's kid?) part of the city, away from all of the tourist attractions that bring the masses to Rome in the first place. The first thing I read about this area is that it was “seedy”, that felt like a good sign to me. I like a place with a little grit (I guess thats why I like LA, sometimes). It is also known to be an area with lots of young people, ancient and colorful buildings, fabulous food and a great night life. HELLO! I’m there!
Within the first nano-second of arrival I knew it was the right choice. The building we stayed in was sherbet pink with white shutters open to a narrow street carved out between a myriad of pastel colored buildings. Ivy was draping across laundry lines – like, it just started crawling across this functional laundry line and the owner just let it keep going. Why fix something that exquisite? They just left it there draping leafy charm across the street and forcing me to fall in love. The area is so old that the cobblestone streets spaghetti and swirl with the grace and elegance of a dance – whoever said straight lines are better than curvy ones? I have this very specific memory of having marinara pizza (it’s bomb, get it) and drinking a vat of wine, because that’s how they serve it, in big huge jugs. Every café was filled with locals laughing and eating and drinking, all the while being serenaded by street musicians - it was the stuff of Norah Ephron movies.
After a really long and drawn out dinner full of the conversation that prolonged time together brings out, we walked down the street to grab some pistachio ricotta gelato and wandered slowly back to our flat. I remember that night specifically because one of our neighbors was playing classic Italian music and we could still hear the vibrato of spirited conversation in the cafes below. The cool air was blowing our curtains around the room like ballerinas, and I could hardly stand all the goodness. I didn’t feel like a tourist, I felt like an Italian - wouldn’t that be nice?
So that’s a concept I take with me in all my travels. Stay in an apartment if you can, look for the seedy parts of town, find the bits of the city away from tourist attractions and get local recommendations for the restaurants you choose, like this place. Be Italian for a week.