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  • Judson Blane

A Pedacito Of Rome, Italy

Updated: Jun 19, 2022

Ahh, Viva Roma. I think Rome was the first city I ever wanted to visit. For as long as I can remember I was obsessed with Ancient Rome. I’m not sure where the obsession came from though possibly spurred on by a certain Anne Rice book I read as a teenager ( I was really into the Vampire Chronicles before vampires became all the rage)

Atop the terrace at my friend's very fancy hotel
Atop the terrace at my friend's very fancy hotel

For some reason, I was never able to visit Rome while I was studying in Europe as much as I wanted to. No one ever had any interest in traveling there with me and I hadn’t yet gotten comfortable with solo travel.

But at long last, I made it to Rome. My friend Drew had booked 2 days there and I happily agreed to join him.

The hotel room I ended up with turned out to be really cool. It was somehow in an apartment building. While I checked in at an actual hotel, they sent me next door to a residential apartment building where they had a few rooms.

I was enthralled by the experience. It was my first day in Rome ever and I was seeing a side some tourists never see. The next day I’d see a side most tourists see.

Before our trip, Drew had already convinced us to take a golf cart tour of the city. His parents had done it when they were in Rome and they loved it. It was a bit expensive but I was game. Certainly not something I’d think to do.

As we arrived at the meeting point, we met our tour guide who was convinced we were punking him. Apparently, 99 percent of the guests on these tours are over the age of 50. Once he realized we were serious, he was excited.

Our guide was English, northern English. He told us he was living in Rome because he was studying at the university there. His mother was Italian so he was able to study there and it was much cheaper than in the UK.

He asked us what we would like to focus on since Rome has so much history we would need to pinpoint something. For the first time in my life, I wasn’t sure how to distinguish Roman from Ancient Roman. As residents of Rome still today are called Romans. He got the drift in any case and off we were to see the sights of Ancient Rome.

Our guide was a lot of fun and a really good tour guide; he took us to all the big sites and at some point, I realized there was no way I would ever have seen all these things on my own. And it was great having someone who really knew his stuff.

He also asked where we wanted to end up to close out the tour, so I told him we wanted to check out the Jewish Ghetto because there was a restaurant there I had read about and was very interested in trying out. He agreed that it was the coolest neighborhood and finished our tour there.

I like to read a lot about places I visit and about cities, I really like The Wallpaper guides. They are very discreet and are more about style and architecture and food than the typical guidebook. The Wallpaper had told me about a particular steakhouse in the Jewish Ghetto that I couldn’t wait to try. It was very closed at lunch.

I found another restaurant that was nearby, though, across the river, that promised a very traditional Italian lunch. My friends groaned about the walk, but we crossed the river Ebro and had our traditional Italian lunch. The only foreigners in the tiny restaurant. It was amazing.

Crossing the River Ebro in Rome, Italy
Crossing the River Ebro in Rome, Italy

That night we returned to the Jewish Ghetto for the much-awaited steak dinner. It was around 9 pm. As we approached the place, it looked very dark and very closed. I was confused.

There was a sign in the window, in Italian of course, that seemed to me to say we will open at 9:12. I speak decent Spanish and Ok French so I can generally make out Italian. But this seemed an odd time.

I stood there in disappointment for a minute or two before my very hungry friends said they obviously were closed. "Let's find somewhere else." There were indeed two other steakhouses across the street. Very disappointed, I checked the reviews of the other restaurants, also good. I reluctantly agreed and we sat down at a table outside.

Not 1 minute after we had been seated and brought a basket of bread, a crew of restaurant workers came strolling down the street. Sure enough, they opened up the restaurant I had wanted to go to, flipped the lights on, and were open for business. It was 9:12. The food at ours was great too. Maybe one day ill go back.

Passing some Ancient Roman ruins on the way to dinner
Passing some Ancient Roman ruins on the way to dinner

I wandered the city streets for a while that night, I have to say, Rome was very different than I expected, as a modern city at least. I was surprised by the relaxed vibe. The next morning I was off to the airport at the crack of dawn headed to Spain, my friends still sleeping.


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