This past weekend, two close friends from school, decided to visit Rome. I’ve met really nice people here, but I correctly anticipated how nice it was to spend time with old friends. After little more than a month here, I was forced to assume the persona of a cicerone, or tour guide. It wasn’t an easy feat, but with the indispensable help of my map, I surprised myself with how much I already know about Rome (and its best gelaterias).
Saturday was Yom Kippur, or the most religious Jewish holiday of the year. My friends and I went to Great Synagogue of Rome for services. The Orthodox temple looked like a church, all the girls sat on the second floor, I had no idea what was going on below, and the crowd was oddly sparse, but I accepted the aberrations in the name of a new experience. It was very interesting to engage in this type of cultural activity and the little familiarity I had with the service was comforting.
On Sunday, we went to a huge flea market held every week at Porta Portese. I have been wanting to go for a while, so I’m glad I finally went. The early wake up call was worth it to see the huge mass of vendors and people and I found some prime man sweaters to add to my collection for only 3 euros. My closet is beginning to look more like that of Bill Cosby’s everyday, and yet I still feel more fashionable than half the Italian women. Luckily, fall is finally here and it seems as if Americans and Italians agree more on autumn style (I found many points of contention concerning warm weather selections). I’m loving the weather and eyeing more fashionable choices on the metro just as I was losing any remaining hope.
Of course, no tour of Rome is complete without a thorough investigation of the best restaurants. We had amazing pizza at Da Baffeto near Piazza Navona and inimitable pasta. I have been waiting for life-changing pasta. I’ve indulged in “good” and “tasty” and even “great” pasta here, but I didn’t let these placate my desire and I maintained this high expectation. While my friends were visiting, it finally happened. Nestled amongst the winding streets in Trastevere, on a sleepy Sunday afternoon, at a small trattoria called Cacio e Pepe, I had the best lasagna of my life. I don’t even especially like lasagna and I’m crediting my decision to order it as some sort of divine intervention. The edges were crispy, the pasta was homemade, and there was not even a need for more cheese (words I never thought I’d utter). Now there is only life before and after this meal. Post-lasagna life has seemed brighter and has been filled with dreams of returning.
Even after only a few weeks, I felt like I had a good grasp of Rome and I hope I gave my friends an acceptable tour. If nothing else, they certainly got a thorough taste of Italy!