Our flight from Amsterdam to Rome was delayed two hours and while we were waiting in line to board, a couple behind us saw the SOU Alumni sticker on my water bottle and asked if we were from Oregon. We discovered they were from Eugene and both University of Oregon graduates. They were traveling through France and Italy, and we spent the rest of the wait in line talking to them about their travels. They were the first people we have met from Oregon since we have left, and it was fun to talk to someone about your state and having them actually know what you’re talking about. As we exchanged stories I began to realize our similarities and struggles of backpacking through Europe as a couple. They spent five weeks house sitting in France and she talked about how incredibly lucky they were that the house was conveniently located to grocery store, café for wifi, and walking distance to public transport.
I couldn’t help but relate, when Mikel and I chose our first workaway in Malaga, we were just relieved to have a host, and when we discovered we were in the most remote location possible, it hindered our ability to explore the south of Spain on our own tremendously. From that point on we were extremely picky with who we wrote to, and responded to, because we needed to be sure it was the right fit for us.
Moving on to Rome now. Admittedly, Rome in March wasn’t on the agenda, but perhaps it should have been. After a day spent booking flights, train tickets, looking at bus schedules, and checking emails, we were finally able to relax and enjoy our visit to Italy’s capital.
The entirety of the city is like a huge outdoor museum. We spent three days walking around and did not spend a dime (on museums). I couldn’t believe the amount of ancient architecture you could view without an entrance fees. We didn’t go inside the Vatican or the Colosseum because of the crowds, it just doesn’t appeal to me much when you have hundreds to thousands of people crammed together. The touristy streets felt overwhelmingly crowded at points to me and it was a Monday in the off season, I don’t want to know what Rome is like in peak season.
The food we had in Rome was nothing special, in my opinion. My general rule of thumb so far in Europe is to avoid the restaurants that have people outside begging you to come in (which is almost every restaurant in a touristy area). However, the gelato was amazing. We went to the same gelateria twice (Come il Latte) because I wanted to try their other flavors and it was only a couple blocks from the B&B. Over the three days we tried salted caramel, coffee, chocolate chip, pistachio, and gorgonzola mango.The Grande size (€3.50) comes with three flavors, a cone filled with either dark or white chocolate, and topped with whip cream and a chocolate dipped cookie- truly decadent but light at the same time!
We couldn’t have asked for better weather. Every day we were greeted with warm 60 degree sun and blue bird skies. Mikel and I were walking around in t-shirts, wishing we had worn shorts, while the locals were bundled up with sweaters, coats, and scarves. It was funny, coming from Amsterdam, Rome felt like a perfect summer day to us.
Being in Italy has definitely inspired Mikel and I to focus on learning Italian. We thought while traveling we would be forced to learn the language of the region we were in but the truth is we have found it rare for someone to not speak English. Also, we haven’t faced any hostility from anyone for not knowing their language, if anything you sense them being embarrassed for not speaking perfect English. It wasn’t until we arrived to a smaller town in the south that we really stuck out not knowing Italian, and now we more motivated than ever to learn the language, it is so beautiful!