Yes, yes, yes, this is about six years old. I don’t care. This sets the stage for all of my more current travels so here is a brief overview of the neighborhood I lived in while abroad:
As a student at American University I studied International Relations with a focus in the Middle East…..which is clearly why I decided to spend four months studying in Rome. I won’t try to pretend that I had a huge cultural experience in Rome or lived with locals or even spoke the language fluently. I was put up in an apartment with 6 other like-minded Americans from my home University in DC. The school in Rome was John Cabot University. What this abroad experience lacked in cultural assimilation, it more than made up for in fun however.
Although I could probably write a book on all my insane experiences from my four months abroad, I’ll keep it short. Rome is an amazing city and is either much better or worse than you expect. As it is the first location I ever went to in Europe, I love it. From the second I arrived, half dazed by my flight and lack of sleep, I felt like I had stumbled into some fairy-tale world. I lived on Viale Di Trastevere near Stazione Trastevere. This was a locals neighborhood but with plenty of its own charms all the same.
The first thing I will recommend if you are to visit Rome with at least a few people is try to rent an apartment, and rent one in Trastevere- preferably the older (though more touristy) part of the neighborhood near the Tiber. This is a neighborhood of raw character, made up of a maze of winding, cobblestone streets with very few cars. These streets in turn are saturated with Gellateria’s, Cafes, Pizzerias, and bars of plentiful variety. Although there are a good amount of tourists here, many locals still exist as well and considering the charm of the neighborhood, it remains surprising that it is not more overrun. Additionally, neighborhood is a bit cheaper than those on the other side of the river and the location makes a good starting point to get to many major sites of the city.
Trastevere is the neighborhood to be in when you are done “seeing” stuff. When you want to live life Roman style, grab an espresso (or “cafe”) at a bar, or sit down and sip wine for three hours in the afternoon while people watching, this is the place to do it. There is also the beautiful Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere which is the perfect setting for this.
One of the best things to do when wandering in Rome is stop in to one of thousands of “Bar”s/Cafes for coffee. Most Italians have their espresso while standing at the bar. Unlike in the US, the espresso is great almost everywhere and will cost you around one Euro (as opposed to the $3 I pay in DC for a bitter shot at an artsy pretentious coffee joint). When you order just ask for a “cafe” (as espresso is referred to in Italy). If you want to get a seat outside or linger a bit more feel free to order a Cappuccino, however apparently if you order this after Noon they will look at you like you are a retard….but who cares.
There is also a lot of graffiti on the buildings in Trastevere which many people gripe about, but hey, this is a real neighborhood in a real city. If you don’t like the grungy nature of this city then go to Florence and enjoy your museums and post cards.
All right, I’m done for now, Ill try to get into nightlife and other things in Rome at some point…