Welcome to this week’s Postcard From – the feature where I chat to some lucky explorer about their recent travels.
Stepping up this week is blogger and English teacher Nausheen Farishta, to tell us all about her trip to Italy earlier this year. Born and raised in Chicago,
Nausheen moved to Houston in 2011 as a member of the Teach For America 2011 corps, and currently teaches 6th grade English. Nausheen loves to write, and releases her writing energy on her blog Globe Gazers, where she writes about the highs and lows of teaching, heartache, diet and general life musings.
Postcard From Rome
Italy is a very popular postcard country! Where abouts did you head?
For years I had dreamed of visiting Italy. I’m not sure exactly what ignited that desire. The Lizzie McGuire Movie? Eat, Pray, Love? It doesn’t matter really because somehow, a trip to Italy had topped my Bucket List. Fortunately, I finally made it to Rome and Naples this past summer! I went with a good friend who is also a fellow teacher and my present roommate. We spent most of our two weeks abroad in the lively city of Roma, listening to sing-song accents and being ordinary amidst extraordinary settings.
It’s nice to escape wintery England for stories from summer in Rome! How was the weather?
I have never been as tanned as I was after my trip to Italy, and I am not fair-skinned to begin with! We visited toward the end of June and beginning of July and it was HOT. I was sun-burnt for what was only the second time in my life, and it was completely worth it.
Sounds good. So did you find a good place to stay?
This trip marked my first stay in a hostel. We stayed at the Mona Lisa hostel in Rome, just minutes away from the Trevi Fountain. Considering that I’ve never made the mistake of seeing the movie Hostel, I would definitely stay in one again. Our hostel was a melting pot of young travelers, and we met many new people to explore the city with (and to later become Facebook friends with, of course).
Things to do in Rome
Another check for the bucket list, then! What else did you get up to in Rome?
There is plenty to see in Rome. We wasted no time in crossing off all of the major sights, beginning with the beautiful Trevi Fountain. We spent time at the Colosseum, Parthenon and Piazza Navona, to name a few, It was both magnificent and, at times, eerie to be surrounded by so much intense history. Every sight breathes the ancient past of this city into your soul.
We didn’t spend much time in museums or churches in Rome, though there are plenty of both. Rather, we opted to walk around and explore the city as the natives might, trying our best to block out the tourists to accomplish this! One day, too exhausted to continue walking, we hopped on a bus just to see where it would take us! We ended up at a little outdoor market and did some leisurely shopping.
If you’re a young person (body, mind or soul!) visiting Rome then be ready to rake in the party invitations! We spent more than a couple nights out on the town with fellow travellers from many different places. It was a great way to make plenty of new friends!
Wow, sounds like a busy trip! What was your highlight?
My favourite place was the Trevi Fountain hands-down, but more on that later.
Although I am not a huge sports fan, we were able to experience a spectacular event during our visit. The World Cup was going on during our stay in Rome! On one of our last nights there, we joined a group from our hostel and followed the rambunctious crowd to a large outdoor park. Spirits were high and there was plenty of flag-waving and horn-honking as everyone prepared to watch the big game against Spain! The park was packed up with excited fans and several big screens that projected the game. Despite the fact that Italy lost the game that night, cheering alongside Italians in a park in Rome has become one of my coolest experiences.
Best Italian Food
That does sound incredible! My favourite question when it comes to Postcards from Italy has to be about the food. Did you sample many Italian treats?
The pizza in Rome, by my standards, was nothing to write home about. Maybe this Chicago girl has just been too spoiled with deep-dish! Near our hostel we did find a small shop that had some tasty dishes, but the real pizza treat in Italy seems to be in Naples (Eat, Pray, Love!).
The gelato, on the other hand, was amazing! Being in Italy, we easily justified several helpings of gelato a day. The best place for gelato in Rome, as recommended to me by my sister and Elizabeth Gilbert, is San Crispino. This shop can be found near the Trevi Fountain. It might not be easy to spot right away, but is worth asking around about! My favourite flavours were peach and honey.
Were there any disasters on your trip?
In the second half of our trip, I succumbed to a very painful sore throat. In retrospect, I’m not sure how I made it through travelling and eating with my throat being as sore as it was. When cough drops didn’t work we finally went to a pharmacist, who directed me to some sort of spray to help reduce inflammation. Eventually, it worked and I wrote it off as nothing more than a severe sore throat.
Until recently, when the symptoms began again. I tried to find a similar spray but the pharmacists in Texas all say they’ve never heard of such a thing and it must have been a steroid. So, desperate, I went to the doctor a couple weeks ago to learn I had strep…
I can only assume I was walking around with strep throat in Italy as well. Thankfully I did not infect anyone else (to the best of my knowledge) and came out of it with my throat still intact!
Helpful Tips for Rome
Uh-oh! So, besides ‘don’t get strep’, do you have any helpful tips for people headed to Rome?
Honestly, you don’t need more than several days to see all the major sites of Rome. Still, if I were to go back I think I would allow myself some extra days. Travelling is exhausting, but with our schedule we were able to pace ourselves. Normally we explored one major site a day early on. Then, we went to our favourite spot – the magnificent Trevi Fountain.
We purchased some gelato from San Crispino, sat on the steps right across from the Trevi, and just took in the sights, sounds and smells around us. When I think of my trip to Italy, my heart aches to be back at the Trevi Fountain. Of course, I threw my coin in and wished to come back. Now, it’s just a matter of time!
I would also recommend carrying several water bottles around. Rome is filled with water fountains all with cold, potable, free water!
And finally, what’s the most useful Italian phrase you picked up?
Grazie (thank you). This phrase usually followed a response to some incoherent, oddly gestured question as neither of us speaks Italian!
NB – all images are owned by Nausheen Farishta.