“When Romans pray, they always ask God to be born in Rome again,” said a stranger. He looked just as anyone expects a Roman to appear. Sun-tanned skin, silver hair, well dressed in light blue shirt with rolled sleeves. He joint us while we were sitting on the fountain at Piazza Navona, at the Sunday noon, considering which direction to continue our walk.
Like a local
Often when I meet people coming from the most amazing cities, they wish to live somewhere else. It’s a human nature I guess, that the grass is always greener on the other side. But it doesn’t seem to be the case of Romans, based on my experiences.
Rome is present on a long list of cities where I would like to spend a longer period of time. Till it happens, I wanted to get at least a feeling how it is to be a Roman.
First of all, we skipped the hotel this time and decided to stay at central located Xenia guest house, close to the river Tiber, not far from Piazza Navona. It is actually a stylish modern apartment with several rooms, in the gorgeous historical building.
When we got out of the taxi that brought us from the airport in the late evening, we were staring to the grand entrance of the apartment building. I always loved historical lifts. The one in this building was like from the movie, wonderfully smelling by all the stories that had ever taken place there.
Cake and coffee
When I woke up in our white-silver-mirror room, I couldn’t wait to become a Roman for few days.
It was Sunday. When I go to any big city I always want to spend the last and the first day of the week there. There are no days more differing in their atmosphere. This is the way to taste both.
Soon I found it’s very sweet to be Roman. Especially in the morning.
I asked Giulia, young woman running the guest house (also loving her hometown – Rome), a weird question, where should we go when we don’t really want to see sightseeing that much. I wrote down few names of the streets she advised us to go and we started to explore.
We soon found out, the area of our place is so lovely that it doesn’t really matter which direction one decides to go. It was close to many great places, fortunately, not necessarily enveloped by tourist traps.
We walked, listened to the street musicians and talked to the Roman at Piazza Navona. He sent us to the nearby church to see great Caravaggio’s paintings. Moreover he told us many interesting stories about the history of the city, and much more.
When we were already in love with him, he three times looked at his watch during our conversation, suddenly stood up, waved us, said “Ciao” and disappeared. And we are still not completely sure if he was real or not.
But then we went to see Caravaggio’s paintings and they were there. We also had another coffee for 80 cents at Piazza della Pace and couldn’t stop to walk.
When there were too many selfie poles sellers around us, we usually chose turn to another corner. The exception was the Spanish Steps because Sunday is simply the day to have a gelato there. The real luxury was to see the beauty of the St. Peter’s Basilica in the evening when there were already no tourists around there.
Sunday is also the day, supposed to be finished by the long dinner with few glasses of wine and then slowly walk back home. In any city.
But Monday is a different story. Streets are busy. I have my coffee, standing at the bar of the full cafe. If I was a Roman, I would have some important business meetings in the city, for sure.
As always, during the week, I don’t have the time for a breakfast. So I just grab one piece of pizza and eat it by the road. In the late afternoon I meet my friend at the gallery to see Chagall, and, after seeing the exhibition, have a glass of wine and some cheese.
But this time there were no business meetings, so I had the time to walk even more and got obsessed by taking pictures of the windows. I always had a thing for Mediterranean windows. Especially when I see them open, I’m always thinking about the lives that are going on inside. I guess, everyone went to close his window right now.
If there was an exam every adept has to pass to become a Roman, I’m sure I would be on the expert level in eating pizza and drinking small strong coffee. I could also get some points thanks to the speaking skills. On the second day I became quite fluent in saying “bella ragazza” to cute little girls and “ciao” I said to Rome while waving was almost indistinguishable from the native version. Isn’t it all that counts?
Smell of Jasmine was a guest of Xenia Guest House. All views are my own.