Before arriving in Roma, I was a little unsure of how I would manage getting around the actual city. Philadelphia has a pretty comprehensive system of transportation including trains to just about everywhere, bus routes, taxis, and of course the Broad Street Line Subway. In addition to those public means, I’ve had my baby Coco, aka my mini cooper, to get me from point A to point B. From our residence in Roma, I was told we had a forty-minute walk to campus. Now I don’t know about you, but I start tasting blood when I walk up a flight of stairs. A forty-minute walk would probably result in my immediate collapse and death, and ain’t nobody got time for that. Luckily, transportation in Roma comes in many forms and is pretty easy to grasp.
With that 40-minute walk in mind, I was overjoyed to discover how close we lived to the Metro. From our apartment it’s a three-minute walk to Cipro station, a ten-minute ride to Flamino, and a five-minute walk to campus. Now that commute I can handle. The metro is a huge asset for a study abroad student. With a monthly pass for about 34 euro, you can travel throughout the entire city on both the A and B lines. The C line (the line I would probably use the most) has been under construction for a few years. The problem with construction in Rome is once you start digging; you’re bound to stumble upon a few relics. Case in point, the C line remains unfinished.
The Metro is sort of like Broad Street Line, except it actually brings you relatively close to your destination. We hop on the Metro at least two times a day, but it’s probably closer to five. Depending on the time of day, you can either sprawl out over multiple seats or you’re left smushed between a little old lady and an overeager 15-year-old boy. The actual Metro has TVs that feature some of the most bizarre adverts I’ve ever seen. The main goal seems to be showing funny clips of cats walking across bridges, or clowns goofing off in front of a black screen. In addition to the televisions, amusement comes from your fellow passengers. Public displays of affection are wildly accepted so don’t be surprised if the couple to your left is busy making out or more.
If you enjoy impromptu performances, the metro is the place to be. Any ride that doesn’t include the glass-shattering noise of an accordion is a small gift from God… Musicians love to turn the metro into their stage. Picture standing on a jerky Metro at 9am Wednesday morning, after Taco Tuesday did you dirty the night before, and a man begins to blast the notes of some obscure Italian tune directly into your ear. I appreciate performing arts, but I could do without the ocular assault and coin jar shaking. I actually prefer the gentleman on the Broad Street Line that clammer through the aisles yelling, “DVDs $5”!
Buses in Roma continue to be a mystery to me. There are so many different numbers and routes to chose from that I usually just skip them completely. I’ve had to venture on them once or twice for class excursions and the flashbacks of sticky railings and the strong stench of urine continue to haunt me. The drivers pick and chose where to stop and there’s really no timetable to follow. Buses in Roma, like in Philadelphia, are not my number one choice for travel. Other students seem to have had more success however, and swear by the system.
My relationship with Roman taxis was pretty solid until last week. Since the Metro stops running by 11:30pm weeknights and 1:30am weekends, we’ve grown accustomed to hailing a cab home at night. You can find the white taxis just about everywhere in the city, and when split between a few friends, they’re pretty affordable. I even managed to snag a free fare when I was lost last Thursday. I told the driver I was a little turned around and started up a conversation in Italian! Cab drivers continue to be a huge part of improving my Italian. He told me I was beautiful and sent me on my way to Piazza Navona without having to pay! Score.
That experience is mostly out shadowed by my Tuesday night fiasco of losing my iPhone 5 in the back of an unknown taxi. Tragically, my precious phone is officially listed as KIA. No phone has meant no social media on the go and no camera for me! The loss of my iPhone has been a tough battle to get through; luckily I have insurance and a new one is supposed to be delivered today. I don’t know how people manage to go an entire semester without a smart phone, let alone without a phone at all, you’re all either insane or a lot better off than me! I’m counting down the minutes until I have my lifeline to world back.
Trains and Trams:
I’ve been on two trains since arriving in Roma, one to Venezia and one to Viterbo. The high-speed train to Venezia was a blast, but probably because it lead me to Carnivale! The regional rail track to Viterbo was a lot less glamorous but still offered me a beautifully scenic route into the Italian countryside. Trains are an asset for study abroad students, but really only for traveling outside of Roma.
Getting around Rome is a breeze once you get the hang of your choice of transportation. I’ve also been informed that people do actually walk places as well… bless their hearts. Truth be told, I did manage to survive a five plus hour walking tour, so I can confirm it’s easy to walk from place to place in the city. It’s worth doing at least once; there are so many hidden gems along the way to stumble upon. I’ve found my favorite church, bakery, and park on foot! When there’s a specific destination in mind, hop on the metro. If you have time to burn or just feel like wandering, you won’t regret the effort of walking around this beautiful city.
Other Notable Events:
- I babysat a six-year-old Italian girl and helped improve her English! It was a lot of fun and made me miss babysitting back home!
- We went to Mood Nightclub and had an incredible time despite people setting our expectations pretty low. Casey and I met the owner as well!
- Mega Burger delivers pancakes until 5am… praise the lord. I can now cross pancakes off my list of food that I desperately miss. Pad Thai continues to be number one.
My lack of an iPhone means I have no new photos to share, but fear not: they’ll be back and will definitely make up for lost time.