If you look back through the posts on this blog, you'll notice very few of my travels to big cities. I tend to prefer visiting those off-the-beaten-path locales. The small villages.
I have to admit, I'd been prejudiced against Rome.
I never visited it until the middle of COVID when flights to Italy opened up in summer of 2021. I knew there were normally throngs of tourists flocking the epicenter of the Roman empire, but during the pandemic, it was deserted. My interest was piqued.
Winter in Rome
Recently, I decided to stay a few days in Rome on my way to the U.S. to stay with my friends who are moving there. They rented an apartment in the northern part of the city, far from the tourist district.
I began to see the city with new eyes.
While we did visit some of the tourist areas (we walked by the Colosseum and went through Campo di Fiori), it was lovely to see what it would be like to live in a quiet neighborhood in Rome. Just steps from their apartment were a variety of different types of restaurants (I sorely miss ethnic food living in Calabria). The metro was a five-minute walk away. There were parks and bars where locals sipped their espressos and chewed the fat.
In sum, Rome felt like a city alive. A city that, while yes, hosts thousands of tourists from around the globe every year, also was a place where people lived and loved and grew. I began to release my preconceived notions and allowed the new vision to shift my perspective.
Rome on My Terms
As I walked through streets that were once part of the ancient Roman Empire, I marveled at the layers of history and how they sat in conjunction with the modern version of Roma. Ruins of Roman pillars lay next to billboards for cheese. Vape shops operated inside buildings that were hundreds of years old.
As a lover of all things Roman, I of course appreciate what Rome has to offer. I realized that visiting off season was the perfect opportunity to have the city to myself, more or less, and to see all its charms and historical sites without fighting the crowds.
We visited this famous farmer's market, Campo di Fiori, and were given samples of delicious cheese and truffles, and had a fun conversation with the seller in Italian/Spanish (my friend Patti calls it Spitalian).
I love these genuine moments when I travel. I've seen a different side of Rome, and I will be back.