It is hard to believe that I have only been here for a week. Very quickly I have established a routine and adjusted myself to this city. Prior to leaving, family and friends gave plenty of suggestions about what to try, telling me the pizza is different or certain types of pasta to try. Throughout the week I have tasted as many of these specialties as possible. All are delicious, however, the specialty that has impressed me most, and ultimately defined my routine, is the ice cream. In the United States my freezer would almost always contain ice cream and a bowl of it was always the perfect dessert. It is not surprising then, this nightly ritual has followed me to Rome.
Gelato, as it is called here, is different from American ice cream because it is uses whole milk rather than strictly cream. This means you taste more of the unique flavors, rather than just the fatty cream. Plus the lower fat content means I can feel a lot better about eating it twice a day! I had only been in Rome for few hours when one my roommates suggested finding a gelato shop. I was surprised a quick Google maps search showed gelato shops on almost every street corner. After finding a shop just around the corner form the Residence Candia I had a delicious mango gelato, far superior to any mango sherbet in the States. My roommates and I quickly agreed gelato would be a daily tradition.
After settling into the Residence, a group of us made the walk to Temple Rome for a pizza party. Roughly 30 minutes, this walk passes through markets, restaurants, and even over the Tiber River. It was on this first night we met Gianni, a student affairs assistant. As a true Italian he has been instrumental in our quest to find the best gelato. Throughout the next few days he provided endless recommendations and advice. Most importantly, he has provided us with a list of his recommended restaurants, movie theaters, and, most importantly, a full page of gelato shops.
Following Gianni’s advice, my roommates and I placed all of the shops on Google maps and found shops near each of the places we wanted to see. Quickly, we fell into a schedule. After a nice walk to Temple Rome and back for classes, we would venture to the local supermarket to find foods for dinner. I quickly learned that in Italy people do not buy their food in advance, but go shopping each afternoon for dinner. After shopping for our meal and eating a late dinner, once again an Italian tradition, we would pick a different gelato shop and experience a different part of the city. Despite the ease of public transportation, we walk each night and enjoy the sights and sounds of Italy. So far I have had fragola (strawberry) at the base of the Spanish Steps, Crema Di Grom (a specialty of the store that was similar to cookie dough) in front of the Pantheon, and Caramel (better than any caramel I have ever had in America) feet from Vatican City.
I never thought I would establish a routine so quickly, but gelato is the perfect way to end my day, just like ice cream signaled the end of my day in America. Classes promise to greatly enhance this routine. Already, Dr. Pollack has explained to us the food subsidies of the European Union, explaining why food (including gelato) is so inexpensive. History of Art in Rome has excursions planned to many of the sites where I also plan to have gelato. Having the expertise of my professor will certainly increase my appreciation and my overall experience. Fortunately, there are still countless flavors of gelato and places to go with my remaining 5 weeks.