On the Pressures of Travel, and Getting to the Fun Stuff in Rome, Italy
Old and wise, yet vibrant and romantic, Rome steals the show every time. The eternal city has earned itself an eternal spot on my bucket list, my first visit confirming that 100 visits still wouldn't be enough.
Rome knows what's up. It's like the perfect Sunday brought to life. To its core, it's a city that celebrates the basics - the essentials of life. Fueled by good food, wine, and family, Rome is the perfect epitome of the slow life, the sweet life - la dolce vita.
In June 2017 I flew solo from Sicily to Rome for the weekend to ring in my 26th birthday. Despite the aforementioned slow living, I felt like I was bolting head first into the other side of 25. I felt rushed and anxious to see it all, to do it all. Unfortunately, this pressure is one that I was familiar with, and one that I would tend to adopt while traveling. Arriving in Rome with a laundry list of things the internet told me I needed to see, I had this mentality that I couldn't stop until I saw this and that, to which the city responded with something between a big LOL and a slap in the face.
My first day in Rome, I did everything you're supposed to do: The Pantheon, the Trevi Fountain, The Colosseum, Vatican City, all the major tourist destinations. I was on a roll. While I appreciated the history of each of these places, and certainly got the 'wow' factor, I was (quite compulsively) hurrying to cross these items off of my list, not because I felt super passionately about them, but because I wanted to get to the fun stuff. What I really wanted to do was stroll through the corners of Trastevere, gelato in one hand, pizza in the other. I wanted to meet locals and share some wine, I wanted to take a 3-hour lunch with a book. Instead, I raced around and threw that whole slow living thing out the window, which brings us back to that big LOL/slap in the face.
In the midst of running around from one place to the next, my right leg just kinda called it quits, by which I mean it gave out on me completely. My freshly 26 self suddenly felt 126. I had over-exhausted myself to the point where if I wanted to keep going, which I did, I'd have to literally drag my leg along with me, which I did.
I trudged along, leg in tow, because I was finally at the fun stuff part of my list. I hobbled (hobbled!) along the cobblestone streets of Trastevere, took a three-hour lunch because I was dreading having to be back on my feet, and thank god I did share some wine with some locals because it certainly took the edge off.
And so, on that first day of my 26th year, a lesson was learned. I did it all. And I enjoyed it all because I was in Rome, so how could I not? But I'll be making my own itineraries from now on solely comprised of the fun things, with maybe, a nap in between.