Sunday, July 7, 2013

Weekend Adventures in Rome: The End of the First Week

Today was our first free day in Rome, and I decided to make the most of it by setting out to explore the city on my own. I had seen the Colosseum, the Forum etc., but I hadn’t seen much of the “real” Rome except for our very residential neighborhood. And what better way to explore the city than on your own, right?
The Pantheon! Note the insane amount of tourists.
The Pantheon was beautiful inside. 

Wrong. I got horribly lost. I thought I would start at the Pantheon, a relatively touristy sight from which I could get my bearings. As I started walking away from tourists snapping photos and the stands selling overpriced water, I tried to keep a lookout for how the city changed as I got farther away from the touristy areas. The first thing I noticed was apparent from only a few blocks out. Once I passed a three-block radius from the Pantheon, every shop I encountered was closed, save a few gelato shops. I knew that shops closed on Sundays, but it was amazing how apparent the difference was between the touristy areas and the other more “residential” areas. I felt like I could literally draw a line between them if I followed the closed shops.

A garden I found tucked away 
The second thing that I noticed was how few ATMs are readily available once you leave the “shopping” area of the touristy section of Rome. I had been doing quite a bit of walking and since the number of open gelato shops were growing fewer with every step I took, I decided to cool down with some gelato. That would have been a lovely idea if I wasn’t flat broke and in need of an ATM. So I walked and walked and walked, but I only found an ATM once I eventually found my way again and headed back into the touristy area. I feel like that would never happen in the States; I can’t walk a few steps on AU’s campus without running into an ATM, much less in the city of DC itself.

All in all, it was quite the adventure, and I got to see a new part of Rome. Not all of Rome is bustling like the tourist areas. Now I truly understand some of the jokes about Italy’s ridiculous work week as it relates to the economic crisis. Long work days, easy shopping, and regular accessibility to shops and businesses simply aren’t part of the culture here. As I learn more about Italy and it’s culture, I’ll be sure to think back to this day to remember how interactions between cultures and international economics blend.

A beautiful statue/building I ran into as I wandered around lost. 

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