Over the past few weeks, I’ve been lucky enough to welcome some members of my family and friends to Rome for short visits to my current home. After nearly four months of exploring this incredible city, I was thrilled to be able to share it with people so important to me. What I did not expect was how much acting as a tour guide would reveal how much I’ve absorbed from both class discussions and individual exploration around Rome.
Walking around the historic center with my friend, I was able to do more than just point out the Colosseum and Roman Forum. Through my first ever on-site visit for my Art of Fascism in Rome course, I knew that there was more to the urban planning of this area than just what was constructed in antiquity. In fact, Mussolini’s office was in one of the buildings in Piazza Venezia, and the square had often filled when he would give speeches from his balcony, still visible today. The wide-open boulevard stretching from the piazza to the Colosseum, flanked on either side by Roman fora, was not always there. Mussolini himself demolished all the Medieval and Renaissance constructions that had previously stood there in an attempt to provide a clear line of vision from his office to the Colosseum, and to link his own regime to that of the ancient Roman empire. These layers of history are often overlooked or forgotten, and I was happy to be able to share them with my friend.
When my mom asked me about the recent elections, I was able to describe to her the nuances of the Italian political system, what each party and coalition supports, and what the election results mean, using knowledge acquired both in my Contemporary Politics of Europe course and in discussions I’ve had with Italians about politics. My dad is an avid lover of The Godfather films, so when he inevitably asked me about the Italian mafia, I was able to share what I’ve learned in my Special Topics: Italian Mafia class, from the historical context that produced the mafia to its present day functioning.
Moreover, out to dinner with my family, I was able to order in Italian and recommend to them the traditionally Roman must-try dishes, from the four famous types of pasta to fried artichokes and stuffed zucchini flowers. Food is, of course, another thing I was proud to share. I took my friend to two of my favorite places for aperitivo, a happy hour-style meal in which you pay for a drink and get access to an unlimited buffet of food. My favorite spot is a little hard to get to, which keeps it from being discovered by Americans, and offers tons of pasta, vegetables, wood-fire pizza, and even a dessert buffet! I took my family to my go-to lunch takeout spots near school, and we had a picnic in Villa Borghese to take advantage of the nice weather.
Sharing this city with those I love has made it all the more meaningful for me, and I can’t believe I only have two more weeks to enjoy all of my favorite things about Rome!