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Finding delicious food and great food in Rome

by Emely Navarro, International Staff Writer

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Rome is one of the world’s most historic, influential cities, with an average of 7 to 10 million people visiting every year. I decided to become one of them during my semester abroad by taking a quick trip from Spain to Italy.

First impressions

Before arriving, I thought Rome would have beautiful architecture and clean streets, but I was wrong. Although overall Rome was spectacular, I was surprised at how much graffiti there was throughout the city.

Of all the places I have been to, Rome was the worst-kept city. Considering how much of the city relies on tourism, I was surprised to see almost every street had graffiti, with the exception of the streets around monuments.

Food

It’s fair to say I gained at least 10 pounds in Rome. The gelato, pizza and pasta were all incredible.  The hype about Italian food is 100 percent true.

The most surprising thing was how different the pizza in Rome was.  Contrary to the pre-cut triangle slices sold in the U.S., pizza in Italy is sold by the pound.

First the pizza is made in a large rectangle, and when you choose a slice you tell them how big or small you want the slice.

The dough is thin and usually the pizza is just dough, cheese and toppings. Very few types of pizza had any sauce on them.

After you choose the slice, they weigh it and charge you by the pound.

Colosseum

The Colosseum is one of Rome’s most famous landmarks and biggest attractions.

It is better looking in real life than in pictures, and to me it smelled like death, considering the hundreds of people who died there as part of the gladiator battles in ancient Rome.

For about five euros I got a tour of the Colosseum, which was well worth it. I got to learn more about the history of the building and our tour guide clarified some rumors.

Vatican City

Visiting the Vatican was one of the most beautiful experiences of my life. It was definitely a moment I will never forget, stepping into St. Peter’s Basilica and seeing the magnificent architecture, sculptures and paintings across the building.

Within minutes inside I started tearing up because I had always dreamed of visiting the Vatican. I was raised a Catholic. I have completed all the sacraments in the Catholic church, baptism, communion and confirmation, so I felt like I had achieved my Catholic duty by visiting this holy place.

I was fortunate enough to confess to a priest inside the Vatican, which was my favorite memory of my entire European experience.

What made it so special was that after I confessed the priest asked me to come to the front to see him. He smiles at me and gives me a postcard with the Virgin Mary in the front. He said “take this with you on your travels and keep being a good girl.”

I don’t know if the priests do this often, but I had never had a priest give me anything more than a blessing before, let alone a priest at the Vatican. As weird as it may sound, I felt God with me at that moment and it was magical.

Climbing up to the dome at St. Peter’s Basilica was worth the exercise and extra cost. Visiting St. Peter’s Basilica is free, but climbing the dome costs five euros.

Michelangelo himself designed the dome that is 450 feet above the ground and 139 feet in diameter. After admiring the dome, you can climb stairs that take you above Michelangelo’s work for a full 360 degree view of the Vatican City.

Overall

Rome was not built in a day and it can’t be seen in a day or two or three either. The Vatican City alone takes about two days to see. If you are planning a trip to Rome, I would definitely advise saving at least a week for it.

I would also recommend staying near the main tourist attractions or in the Vatican City. Even though I did save money staying outside the city center, the center of town felt much safer overall.

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