In planning my trip to Rome, I was picturing myself as Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday, stylishly riding a bike through the city, eating spaghetti without gaining a pound, and buying bouquets of flowers. Reality, however, was not a crisp white shirt dress and a perfect new pixie cut. Picture instead a sweat-drenched creature, with hair simultaneously frizzed and plastered to her face, stomping around Rome in rubber sandals made out of some kind of stink-free space foam, trying to convince herself that her outfit paid proper respect to the Eternal City. Oh well.
On this trip, I let my failed cinematic reenactment slide because I was so happy to be reunited with one of my very best friends, A. We met in our Freshman-year writing seminar, Shakespeare on Love, where we both fell asleep. In every class. We didn’t pick that 8am time slot, but now, twelve years later (what?!), I’m so glad that we were put there. After more than a year apart, we had a lot of catching up to do in Rome. Over the course of three days, we walked about 25 miles, toured the Vatican and the Sistine Chapel, wandered through the Forum, imagined fights to the death in the Colosseum, and laughed at old stories until we cried over many plates of prosciutto and melon and bottles of Italian wine.
For so many reasons, this weekend included, Rome will always be one of my favorite cities. It’s overflowing with history and beauty. It was one of the first big trips I took with my mom nine years ago. The food. The wine. The art. It reminds me of my Italian heritage, my grandfather, Santo Musotto, and my great grandparents, Paul and Carmella, who ate everything topped with parmesan and red pepper flakes and danced the Tarantella every day. Plus, cannoli. (Plus Italians’ respect for cannoli. Right after exiting an adorable little pastry shop, I opened my box of cannoli and somehow threw (not just dropped) my two perfect little ricotta-filled shells on the ground. Equally as horrified as I was by the scene, the girls in the shop gave me two new cannoli. For free. I will always love a place where the people put cannoli on the pedestal that it deserves.)
My sweat drenched appearance and Croc-clad feet notwithstanding (I do take some comfort in the fact that Mario Batali wears bright orange clogs and is super Italian), this weekend in Rome was a true Roman Holiday.
The replacement cannoli.
And some photos from 2005’s mother-daughter trip:
My three recommendations for Rome:
Book a tour of the Vatican and Sistine Chapel so that (a) you can jump the enormous line and (b) you can enjoy the highlights of the collection, the volume of which alone could easy overwhelm even the biggest art nerd. If you’re going to splurge on anything, do it on a private tour guide. The private tour that my mom and I took nine years ago is still one of my favorite memories of Rome. I can still hear Enrico saying, “Looooka, how bewteeful!”
Book a tour of the Colosseum in advance. A and I really wanted to do the underground tour and learn more about the battles, but in mid-July, it was sold out until September. Instead, I went home and watched Gladiator. It helped.
Try enOsteria, a little farm-to-table restaurant near the Spanish Steps. Hands down the best meal I had in Rome. Simple Italian done to perfection.