We’re all at the midway point of our study abroad experience in Rome, and I know that I feel very comfortable and at home in the city at this point. I’ve settled into a routine and have gotten the hang of things around here so when I picked my seventeen year old brother up from the airport on Friday morning, I was excited to show him Rome like a pro.
It’s been interesting to see Rome and Italy and Europe through the eyes of a tourist. I’ve become so used to some of the quirky Roman nuances that I forgot why they’re weird. My brother was fascinated with the nasoni, the drinking fountains with the nose-shaped spigots. At first he couldn’t wrap his head around the fact that the water from them was safe to drink, and as I started thinking about it myself, I realized all over again how cool it is that this water comes from the ancient Roman aqueduct systems.
I have spent the last few days smiling over my tourist brother’s reaction to Italian food. He was only here for five days, but he’s eaten his way through Italy: pizza, gnocchi, spaghetti alla carbonara and amatriciana, gelato, etc. I hate to think that I’ve become used to the cuisine here, but watching a visitor react to their first bite of authentic Italian pasta has made me reevaluate my recent complaints about not eating as much meat here as I would like. I’ll admit that I have been missing my steak and potatoes, but have become smitten with pasta again as I see Rome through new eyes with my little brother.
Having someone here for five days also forced me to decide what my must-see places in Rome are because I wanted to make sure he saw all the best spots in the city before leaving on Wednesday. In five days, we managed to throw coins in the Trevi Fountain, climb the Spanish Steps, do a night time tour of the Vatican Museums, shop on Via del Corso, wander through the Capitoline Museum, snack on panini in the Villa Borghese, walk around the Roman Forum and the Colosseum, eat in Trastevere, bar hop in Testaccio, admire the Pantheon, Saint Peter’s Basilica, and the Castel Sant’Angelo, tour Saint Callisto’s Catacombs, and people watch in Piazza Navona. We managed to squeeze a lot into a short time frame and my brother managed his jet lag like a pro, but I can’t help but feel like we have barely scratched the surface. At least I have another month and a half to really get to know every inch of this amazing city which has so completely stolen my heart.
I knew that there was a lot to see and do in Rome, and seeing and doing everything is a goal that I won’t let go of until I’m on the flight heading back to America. Seeing Rome for the first time vicariously through my brother reinforced for me what a perfect city Rome is to study abroad in. It’s impossible to be bored in a city that is so rich in art, history, and culture. I’m spending the second half of my midterm break in Prague, but I’m grateful I was able to be a tourist in my city with one of my favorite people in the world during the first half.