It’s the night before Graduation. Exactly 24 hours later, you will no longer have the security-blanket of your NUS Card. Discounted Nando’s on Thursdays between lectures will be a thing of the past. You will be thrust into the big grown-up ocean to swim around like the little adult fishie you are.
It begs the question: what do you do to prepare yourself for it all? Book a spontaneous trip to Rome with your Mother because you are a twenty-something millennial, so of course do that.
After copious successful trips to Primark to stock up on all the stylish summer gear, and travel essentials in the form of suitable luggage and electrical adaptors, August had reared its sunny head around the calendar. It was time to check and check again everything was packed, then check once more to be sure, before making the exciting journey to Gatwick and embarking on the flight to Rome!
I hadn’t flown overseas for over seven years. This was also my first time visiting another country in Europe as my family and I were frequent visitors of South Asia during my childhood. Being more accustomed to long-haul flights, the three hour journey felt like the blink of an eye!
After being acquainted with our host and the apartment we would be calling home for the week, we decided to explore the neighbourhood and scout our stomping grounds for the next day. We were staying in Trastevere which was a beautifully tranquil town of Rome. The days were filled with the chatter of the locals congregating for their morning espresso and the nights were bursting with life and hustle and bustle of the youth.
Walking around the streets of Trastevere, it felt like we were in a Wes Anderson film. The roads were adorned with colourful buildings and intricate urban details.
It is said that you will get lost in Rome at least once, no matter how hard you plan. I suppose that is also the reason it is greatly emphasised to wear comfortable shoes because you most definitely will be impressing your pedometer and surpassing your daily 10,000 steps!
We learnt our lesson first thing in the morning, and many times after that. A quick morning cappuccino stop at one of the many coffee shops, we then went in search for a weekly Metro ticket to commence further exploration of the city. Despite the warning of the merchant at the local tabacchi stall stating the town centre’s train station was not at a walkable distance, we inadvertently tested our fitness and discovered what we had thought was a ten minute walk was actually nearly an hour away. Oh.
Tickets in our hands, we then set off to Termini, the central part of Rome, to stem the next leg of our adventure.
Majority of the late-morning was spent buzzing between Termini and Vittoria, a small neighbourhood on the outskirts of the former. Hidden away from the flurry of tourists and locals alike, it was a quiet area populated by South Asians surprised to see two new faces on the block.
Lunch time struck, so we tucked ourselves away in one of the many delis Vittoria had to offer and munched away on our paninis before battling the Metro.
Out we popped in the bid to be somewhat closer to the Pantheon, one of the sights on our list, and more convinced we were lost. Circling around the streets and trying to figure out where Google Maps was trying to navigate us to, we eventually stumbled across two gems before our destination: Triton Fountain and Sephora; both filling me with much excitement.
Seeing the Pantheon in person was so breath-taking as it is one of the best-preserved monuments of Ancient Rome. With others now an array of ruins scattered around the city, it makes one wonder how the Pantheon managed to survive it all for so long!
Much of the afternoon was spent wandering around the area and dotting in and out of eateries, whilst taking in the views. There was something so serene about enjoying some coffee gelato on the side of the Pantheon to admire the architectural brilliance before heading off to the next sight on our list: the Trevi Fountain.
The gentle cool splash from the Trevi Fountain felt refreshing against the scorching Italian heat. There were plenty of aqua potables around for tourists to refill their bottles and different platform levels to get the perfect Trevi snap for the ‘gram.
The history of designing the Trevi is one of the reasons I was so eager to see this during our visit. Designed by a poet & philosopher in the 1700s (the first designs were in the 1400s) with very minimal architectural experience, he wanted to create a great waterfall with the facade of springing from a palazzo. It emphasises the sheer determination an individual upheld in order to bring their visions to life, regardless of their background.
The late-afternoon was slowly transitioning into the evening. It was eventually time to make the expedition back to Trastevere. Of course, what felt like a good chunk of the city had already been explored, Rome thought differently as it was our first day. With glorious views and ancient ruins, it was easy to pardon the surprise trek! Circling the streets until we found the bus back to the apartment, albeit alighting three stops earlier than needed, we stopped by a pizzeria on the walk home and tucked in on the balcony as the Italian sun set deeper into the horizon.