Friday, January 16, 2009

Benvenuti a Roma!

If I have learned anything in my first week in Rome, it's this: Patience is a virtue best learned through experience. When we arrived, shuttles took us to the Study Abroad Italy office where about 70 of us lined up to get our apartment keys, cell phones and other orientation information. This took some time, but finally our drivers took us to our neighborhood in lower Trastevere. Most of the JCU students actually live on Viale di Trastevere (pronounced Tra-STEH-ve-ray) but our apartment is a few blocks further from school on Via Pascarella.

Facing Viale di Trastevere

Facing Via di Porta Portese

Because our street is so little and on the edge of the city, it's not even on the map JCU gave us. This made it a bit difficult for my four roommates and I to find the school the first few days of orientation. What was supposed to be a 25-minute walk soon turned into a 45-minute walk when we got lost in the winding alleys, which took us past street vendors selling Vespa accessories and lots of Smart cars parked wherever there was room. Finally we realized Viale di Trastevere would take us straight to school and go past bancomats (ATMs), pizzerias, and tabacchis--all necessities for travelers in Italy.

Though the language can be a barrier, I'm already picking up certain phrases (scusi [sorry/excuse me] and grazie [thank you] being my most used). It might be awhile before I understand Italians as a people--their two hour lunches, crazy parking and love for soccer--but at least I've figured out basic street etiquette. That is, a green walk means go, but watch for Vespas, a yellow means go a bit faster and watch for Vespas and cars, and a red means go but watch for Vespas, cars, buses and trams.

A lot of people lump Italy in with the rest of Europe (which, logically, is appropriate) but, as this video shows, Italy tends to do things a bit different. They showed this at one of our orientation sessions after we were in Rome a few days so we had already experienced some of these situations. It really is like this!

On Wednesday SAI sponsored an Aperitivo (like an American Happy Hour, but with better food). We went to Bros where they had the best artichoke spread, sausage and formaggio (cheese), and pasta. Plus we got a complimentary glass of vino (wine). Afterwards we took a short walk to a scenic overlook of the city. It was a little foggy, but we could still see a lot of the lights around the historic center.

one of the many side streets in Trastevere

outside Bros

Stephanie-Rosanna-Shannon-Marina at our aperitivo

It's been a good, tiring week, but I'm anxious for classes to start. Besides a basic Italian language course I'm also attempting statistics and social research methods (to use Kim's phrase, I'm supes nerves for those). I also have a history course on Rome and Ancient Italy and the class I'm looking forward to the most: Ancient Rome and its Monuments, which is an on-site art history course.

Wish me luck!! (buona fortuna)


  1. I'm assuming the four girls are your roommates, they look nice. The video is hilarious.

  2. I really enjoy your comments. Patience is definitely a virtue, can;t you just imagine your gpak on those city streets? I think we will keep him in a small town.