The bright feeling of love towards Italy burst into my life in 2007.
At the time, my mom had been collaborating closely with Italian business partners, so I was offered the opportunity to go study in Italy. Alas, due to my busy life, I was unable to go.
However, for about a month or so, I even took some Italian language courses anyways. The truth is, though, this was a bit ambitious; I was already studying at two universities, taking Arabic classes, mastering my English, beginning to study Spanish, as well as attending ballroom dance lessons.
Although I never got to go when I was younger, I still couldn’t help but completely fall in love with Italy. Before I even went to Italy, I was already in love with their music, language, and lifestyle. . . So when I was finally able to go, I was definitely head over heels.
Italy stayed present in my heart. Nearly ten years later, in 2014, my husband and I finally decided to visit this beautiful country from our home in Cyprus.
After a series of events and realizing that going to Venice for St.Valentine’s would completely go over our budget, we decided the best and most affordable option would be to fly into Rome. There, we enjoyed a wonderful 4 day holiday. Below is information on our itinerary, the cost of things, what we saw during our visit, delicious food we enjoyed, and a little bit about Italian culture.
- A flight from Paphos to Rome
- 4 nights in Rome
- A flight from Rome to Paphos
*The total budget for two people was 289 EUR (excluding the payments for airport parking, food costs, as well as public transport and taxi fares):
- 153 EUR — Airplane tickets
- 136 EUR — Hotel stay
For our stay in the Eternal City, we chose the hotel Appia Avenue 639.
However, calling it a hotel is a bit difficult: it was more like a multifamily unit, remodeled into a hostel-type place, with one refrigerator for everyone to share. Being that, it was still fully up-to-par with our hotel search parameters: a double bed, a private bathroom, Italian-style breakfast, and free Wi-Fi.
The pros: nice interior design of the room (just as advertised), friendly staff, great location/pedestrian access to the city center, and most importantly, a fair price.
The cons: audibility of neighbors, barely warm heaters, and a lack of towels in the bathroom (I was absolutely not ready for this one).
Overall, I would give this place a 6 out of 10 (the location and price really helped).
For day one, we were absolutely set on visiting at least a couple of sights (we made the mistake not to on our trip to Istanbul). We succeeded!
We saw the Trevi Fountain, the Vatican, the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, the Castel Sant’Angelo, and the Altare della Patria (from the outside), went inside the Pantheon, and checked out several of the squares.
However, we still regret not making it to the Spanish Steps (perhaps they are for next time).
The Italian cuisine deserves a special mention. The aroma of the strong morning coffee, the rich taste of genuine Italian pasta, and the unique notes of blue cheese in the Quatro Formaggio pizza will haunt me for a long time to come. Not to mention, the delicious panini and the slices of melt-in-your-mouth prosciutto. . . Oh yum.
As far as gastronomics go, we had two especially delightful havens awaiting us in Rome: Enoteca Barberini and the notorious food market of Eataly.
Enoteca: This place deserves a solid 10 out of 10. We had dinner here twice and both times we were left satisfied: from the cheese pizza to the pasta with lobster, everything was incredibly tasty and priced reasonably.
Two main dishes, a cheese plate, meat cuts, two desserts, and a really good bottle of Prosecco cost us around 80 euros.
Eataly: This place is a gastronomic paradise. After seeing such a huge range of various products for the first time, we could not resist treating ourselves with cold cuts and a couple of pastries. Plus, we found out about this glorious place from freelancing! We had been translating a range of Italian travel promos where they kept recommending this awesome food market, so we decided to try it out when we visited (and we can definitely see why they recommended it). Go freelancing!
The opportunity to get acquainted with the real life of Italians was the culmination of our trip to Rome. During one of the days, after seeing the Colosseum, we sat down to eat al fresco. After just a couple of minutes, we were lucky enough to witness a demonstration of police protesting against penalties imposed by the government for their mass fake ‘sick leave’ on New Year’s Eve. Sounds funny, but in fact that mass absence was in protest to a dispute over pay, and not due to police’s desire to join the celebrations.
It is worth noting that this same cafe, where orderly rows of thousands dissatisfied policemen from distant provinces, municipalities, and giuntas passed, was the third place in two days where we got asked to pay in cash. You see, in Roman restaurants, they dislike the word ‘visa’ almost as much as they dislike the Juventus of Turin.
“Are they really evading taxes?” we thought while getting cash.
Hmm, strange occurrences.
It is impossible to describe in words all the different feelings we received from what we encountered in Rome. I was almost ready to say to my husband “Hey, I wanna live here.” I say almost, because there were some things that I didn’t like, for example, the overcrowded Roman subways with graffiti-styled trains, streets filled with people who seemed to be illegal African immigrants, and mafia-looking men wandering the streets at night.
Despite these things, the very least I can say about Rome is that it is a love at first sight; a desire of wanting to return again and again and again, and a desire to bring at least a little bit of Italian charm to our everyday life.
One last thing:
Rome most definitely deserves a visit, or perhaps ten visits. Next time we fly to the Eternal City we will again try different types of cheese and cold cuts at Eataly, find a restaurant where they serve cannelloni, stay again at the Enoteca Barberini, check out a couple of prosciutterias, and will finally reach the Spanish Steps and have a dinner at a panoramic restaurant there.
Just enough plans for one more visit, isn’t it?