When I moved to Rome as an expat, everyone I knew was daydreaming about “the Italian boys”. Italian boys are more a category of spirit than an actual group of people: you know, those guys that know how to love and teach you how to be loved, that take their special one on romantic dates at least twice a week and are still frozen in time with all their gentlemen manners…
I step through the worn wooden doorway and am greeted by a rush of air that caresses my cheek. The candles that hang in lanterns cast a soft illumination, and I breathe the warm scent of old incense. I can hear the laughter of my friends drift down to hushed whispers as I lead the way in, bowing my head to the statue of Jesus that watches over those who have entered. As I raise my eyes, the calm atmosphere brings my aching heart a bit of comfort. In these last intense weeks of college finals, saying goodbye to the study-abroads, and packing up for the summer, this tranquil place gives me a sense of peace…
Sitting down at an outside table, I set my cappuccino on the table and dig into my beat up purse to find my notebook. The sun is relentless today and sitting under the large crimson umbrella that blooms over the middle of my table is the only reason my skin isn’t lobster red. I put my purse under my seat and open my notebook, then turn my head to look out into the square. In the middle rests a large fountain, with steps leading up to see into its waters. Art students are perched all over it and look around the square as I do, reminding me of a flock of pigeons, their heads bobbing up and down as they draw. Speaking of pigeons, they of course are all over the place. I remind myself not to drop any of my sandwich when they bring it to me, because otherwise death-by-pigeon will be on my coroner’s report.
Sipping my cappuccino, an elderly couple walks by with a fat dachshund, who is merrily waddling along in front of them. A lady passes them going the opposite way and honestly I’m impressed at how well she is walking on the old cobblestones, which are riddled with cracks and holes. I can barely manage to walk on them in flat shoes. Brava, lady, brava. An elderly woman stands in front of the church across the street begs for money from anyone who walks in or out; and I have to look away, because its painful to watch. I try to give money when I can, but I can barely afford to feed myself as it is.
The birds’ chirping is a sweet melody that twines together with the smell of the lavender plants that blanket many of the buildings in the square, and its calming qualities make me lean my head back and just listen. With my eyes closed I can hear the clicks of someone’s shoes pass my table to go into the bar, and a deep voice bellows out a cheerful greeting that is reciprocated wholeheartedly from the female bartender. I imagine they are old friends, who see each other everyday and yet never run out of things to talk about. And as they begin to chat loudly among the tinks of the china and the bubbling of steamed milk, my mind wanders to a different sound. I assume one of the street musicians has set up shop somewhere near the fountain because now there is some lovely violin music drifting steadily to my ears. Oh, he is playing Ave Maria I realize, and find a newfound love for whoever this street performer is, because that is one of my favorites.
I hear footsteps approaching and slowly open my eyes to the crimson umbrella above me. I can see little dots of sunshine peaking through, which dance and sparkle when I move my head. Wow people probably think I’m high right now I think to myself and crack a smile.
“Signorina, il tuo panino.” Says a handsome bartender who is hold a plate with my sandwich. I smile and take it from him with a Grazie. Setting it down, I take the last sip of my cappuccino and once again have to remind myself not to feed the birds, even if a little brown one just happened to land near me and chirp with an otherworldly cuteness. As I breathe in the hot Italian air filled with lavender (and now salami from my sandwich), and I hear the birds and violin sing in a natural harmony, I set my cup down and sigh with content. I am the luckiest girl in the world if I can call this beautiful place my home, even if only for a short while.
I have lived in Rome for almost nine months now, and this is a beautiful place with quite a different culture. One of my friends recently asked me what I think of Italy as an expat living in Italy and I couldn’t answer him right away. I decided to write it out considering that this is the best way to express what I am thinking. So I am sharing it here so that everyone can see. What I think is not representative of what all expats think, these are just my observances and opinions…
This is an article for all those expats who live in Italy. For if you have moved to another country, then I’m sure you all can understand the itch to keep traveling; because it doesn’t matter, young or old we all want to see the world. I’ve recently had an itch to go to Spain, and so I’ve started researching cheap ways to get around Europe, because I am a poor college student. All the companies that I researched are going to be compared on the cost of just transportation to Spain. So without further ado, here is what I have found, all the cheaper ways to get around Europe, at your convenience so you don’t have to spend hours researching like I did.
We are going to start with planes first because unlike boats or trains, they are the fastest way to get somewhere far away. Bear in mind that I have the freedom to go and come back when I choose so those of you with a lot of appointments or responsibilities might find that having to schedule specific dates might find these prices to be a bit higher than my research.
Up first, Ryanair. This flight company is actually pretty famous so you may have already heard of it, but it usually offers cheap flights just about anywhere in Europe and recently has improved their service. I choose a flight that would take me to Madrid, Spain on a Wednesday with a return to Rome on a Saturday and it cost €53.18. That, however, was just the flight. If you want to add bags, you add extra onto that. This site is nice because it is easy to use and you can not only get cars and hotels, but also transportation to a hotel and such.
Vueling is our next contender. I was able to plan a trip from Rome to Madrid and back again with three days there. This cost me a total of 87.53 but I believe this includes bags and such. It’s a fairly easy website to use, and while the cost might be a bit more, it’s definitely still cheap.
Air Berlin. This one is actually quite a lot more than the first two, and I was debating with myself if I should mention it at all. However, for those of you that might be here and actually have money to spend, this might be a nice alternative for a high priced plane ticket. The same trip that I planned for Vueling was 306.65 euros on Air Berlin for one adult to travel to Madrid for three days. Maybe the price difference is justified by a more comfortable ride over? I’m not sure because I haven’t taken this particular airline before.
While there are others, such as EasyJet, Pegasus (this one only goes to Turkey and Greece apparently) German Wings (This one found me Ryanair flights), and Blue Express, and Air One. I had some trouble with Air One, but maybe my computer just doesn’t like that website. 😦
So there you have it folks, those are most of the cheaper airlines. If you know of any more, or want to comment about better prices, then please feel free! We would love to hear from you!