1. The Food.
Absolutely the food is what draws in the hundreds of thousand tourists to the magnificent culinary creations of the Roman people. The small pizza shops where you can buy super cheap pizza by the slice makes your mouth water. The cozy family-owned hole in the wall restaurants that can create the same carbonara dish as everywhere else, but have it taste completely different. The gelaterias that are creamy and smooth and bursting with flavor. These are just the basic examples of what one can find the first day in Rome. The next day is a whole other story of gastronomic delights.
2. The Views.
Ancient Rome, anybody? The Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, St. Peter’s Basilica, Ostia Antica, and so on. I cannot even begin to name everything that I’ve seen in the month and a half I’ve been here because that would take days. So many sights to see that are all beautiful in its own way. The way that the light hits the porcelain white statues, or the texture of the crumbling ancient walls, or even the simple beach in Nettuno that is different than any other beach I’ve been to, makes you take a quiet gasp of breath and realize how much beauty there is in this world.
3. The Culture.
Let me tell you, there is never just one word to describe a culture. It is even harder to describe the Romans. In a fast paced, high energy environment with cars honking, scooters whizzing by, and buses sighing with exhaust, the slow stroll of the Italian people counteract and balance this. Being on time for appointments are crucial, however the appointment “time” isn’t set for fifteen minutes after what is written down. Grocery stores are closed on Sundays, but the restaurants don’t start getting busy until 21:00 (That’s 9pm for those in the States that don’t know military time… Like me when I first arrived in Europe). It is the small things in Rome that changes your lifestyle. It is the curtesy on the busses where those who are younger and more physically-abled switch seats with the elders. It is the culture of not taking home leftovers. It is the poor wifi connection everywhere that causes people to go more unplugged and less technologically dependent.
4. The People.
Italians are quiet speakers in public, but once you bring them all together in a room with family and wine, the noise is abundant and full. There is a certain appreciation that foreigners must have for the respect that Italians have for their actions onto other people. I once witnessed this older man almost get hit by a car. It was both and neither of the men’s fault, but the calm exchange between them was very interesting to observe. With a low wave of the driver, and a return wave from the walker, both had a quiet agreement that there was a fault but they didn’t take the time to fight about it. I had never experienced such a respectful exchange, and this was simply at a crosswalk.
5. The History.
Italy has one of the most in-depth, complex, and rich histories in the world. The original cobblestones still cause one to trip, the incredible travertine that can be found everywhere in Rome but barely anywhere else in the world. The monuments and statues that are erected in piazzas are proud features that depict the magnificence of the Roman empire. And what an empire it was and still is.
by Haesu Lee