Rome is just as beautiful a city as one can imagine and I was so excited to start exploring when I arrived. I was also terrified of getting lost. Living in a foreign country with little to no knowledge of the language is daunting, and public transportation is particularly intimidating to me. I was nervous that I would get lost every time I left my apartment so I was extra cautious, always making sure my phone was charged, maps at the ready. It wasn’t until I actually got lost that I realized it’s not so bad. In reflection, the couple of times I’ve gotten lost here in Italy have been some of the most interesting and enjoyable experiences I’ve had so far.
The first time I got lost was during my first week here when a friend and I decided to walk into Rome to explore. We had only been here a couple of days and had no idea where to go or what to do. We walked around for hours admiring the graffiti-clad streets and people watching, not seeing anything notable for quite a while but enjoying the journey nonetheless.
After a while of wandering we came across a bustling piazza. To our right was a regal white building, gorgeous and ancient. To our left was an equally incredible pillar topped with a statue. We were amazed at our discovery and after some apple maps maneuvering learned that it was Trajan’s Forum. Trajan’s Forum was built in the Trajan empire after victorious wars brought riches and honor to the emperor. The more we looked at it, the more beautiful it became. Both the building and the pillar were stately and ornate with an indescribable air of significance. We sat and took in the beauty of the structures, took some photos, and rested for a bit.
After regaining our strength, we decided to continue roaming and followed the hordes. That lead us to a long path lined with artists and performers. My mind went immediately to the boardwalks I traversed as a child. There were people doing caricatures, creating art in the street, playing music, selling trinkets and nick-knacks, everything you’d expect of a touristic hub. My favorite attraction was a woman dressed in a bulbous green costume, dancing while blowing enormous bubbles; it was just as amazing as it sounds.
While Trajan’s Column was wonderful to see, this seemed like a lot of activity for a fairly small, not very publicized, monument. We continued down this path hoping to find somewhere to grab a snack before heading home—and came across something entirely unexpected. There was something in the distance. We weren’t quite sure what it was. As we got closer we agreed that it looked like the Colosseum, but hesitated to believe one could just stumble upon the Colosseum. The closer we got the more apparent it became that we had, in fact, unintentionally walked to the Colosseum. It was stunning. We saw the Colosseum on a leisurely walk. That experience exemplifies what I think is best part about Rome. It has so much history and prominence that there’s something incredible around every corner.
A couple of days later I came across an unbelievable view on my way to school. I’ve opted to stay in an Airbnb rather than the residence, hoping to get a more authentic Italian experience. The downside to this is that I live a bit further from school than the other students. The first Friday of orientation there was a public transportation strike, not uncommon in Rome, so I decided to walk to school. The walk was pretty long but it was a nice day and I was feeling energized after days of carb-filled meals. I walked through a park and ended up at what I’ve now determined was Terrazza del Pincio. It’s up the steps on the far end of piazza del Popolo, but I never even noticed the steps before this experience. To those considering studying in Rome, this is a great thing to do when you have a couple of hours to kill. I was walking through the park, enjoying the greenery and wondering whether the arduous incline would ever end when I looked to my left and saw the entire city of Rome. I was so mesmerized that I simply stopped in the middle of the path. There was a man sitting there creating a beautiful painting of the view and I felt so lucky to have found this place by chance.
These experiences, among others, have taught me that it’s okay not to plan every minute. Of course, I will still plan some trips and excursions, but these chance encounters with the beauty of Rome have shown me the value of leisure. I would never think to just walk around Philly or my hometown aimlessly, but maybe I’ll consider it now. Rome has taught me that there is beauty in the unknown if you give yourself a chance to find it.
After reading this, I hope you’ll all give yourselves a chance to get lost and maybe find something interesting, something colossal, something beautiful.
Until our next adventure,