Coming to Rome for six weeks as student has been a unique blend of being a tourist and living like an Italian. Of course there are days when we embrace being tourists and wait in line to see places like the Colosseum. Today, however, felt like the perfect example of living in Rome like an Italian, rather than experiencing it like a tourist.
My day started out by joining the rest of the commuters on the metro. It is hard to imagine that it was only a couple weeks ago I struggled to figure out how to buy a ticket and which stop was mine. Now I speed through the entrance with my monthly pass and head to my platform without even glancing at a map. I am definitely not a morning person and mastering the metro has made my morning a breeze. I even get to Temple with enough time to get an espresso.
Spending a day more like a resident than a tourist is great at removing assumptions. Most places I have eaten lunch at have catered to tourists with typical foods people associate with Rome, like pizza and pasta. Today, on the other hand, we went to a restaurant much more for Italians. It was away from major landmarks and tucked away between office buildings on the way from Temple Rome to Piazza del Popolo. Here the employees did not speak English and I managed enough Italian to order a delicious pork sandwich with a pepper sauce.
Even my afternoon was not spent searching for a certain monument, but running errands with my friend, Andrew. He had recently warn his shoes out and needed new ones. Like other Italians, we spent our afternoon wandering down Via del Corso, a street perfect for casual shopping. Suddenly, it was just like a day in Philadelphia, but with unique twists. Rather than the malls I am used to, these stores run along a cobble stone street and alternate with ancient temples.
After browsing through several stores, Andrew found a pair he liked. Just like the sandwiches, we were pleasantly surprised once more. Instead of the unfriendly employees we were expecting, they were eager to bring Andrew any size he needed and make sure he was happy with the pair he chose. Content with his purchase, we continued to enjoy our afternoon strolling around this historic section of Rome. Of course, the day would not be complete without gelato. Having found a gelateria on one of the many side streets, we ate in front of the Spanish steps before heading back to the residence on the metro.