This Sunday, I was able to celebrate two holidays by enjoying the fittingly beautiful summery weather: Earth Day and Rome’s 2771st birthday. In honor of the occasion, and as a study break from finals, some friends and I spent a day out and about in the city.
We first stopped by Porta Portese, a weekend flea market in Trastevere that sells everything from 1 euro shirts to vintage magazines and new leather jackets. We wandered the aisles and learned from the Italians nearby how to effectively parse through heaping piles of clothing in order to find the hidden gems.
When we got hungry, we walked over to Campagna Amica, an organic farmer’s market in Testaccio open on weekends. After making the rounds tasting samples, we circled back to our favorite stands to buy the makings for a picnic: pizza bianca (not sauce-less “white pizza” like in America, just a plain pizza-like bread), a hard and a soft cheese, assorted meats, and a container of fresh strawberries, in honor of strawberry season in Rome. We brought our finds outside to Circus Maximus, where we’d planned to eat, and were delighted to find the area full of people dressed as gladiators! Only in Rome can you stumble across a gladiator reenactment, but we were thrilled to get to sit and watch the festivities which were occurring in honor of Rome’s birthday weekend.
After soaking up the sun and the gladiator spectacle, we stopped by two beautiful nearby gardens. The Roseto di Roma, or Rome Rose Garden, was open for its first day of the season, and although not yet full of roses, those that had bloomed were beautiful. The garden’s entire setting was picturesque, with ivy-covered walkways and even a heart-shaped lookout over the city. It felt like a garden made for engagement photoshoots and romantic movies.
The other garden we visited is my favorite spot in the city, the Giardino degli Aranci, or Garden of Oranges. Situated high above the Tiber, the garden provides panoramic views of the city in an idyllic setting. Earlier in the semester, when oranges were in season, I loved sitting among the garden’s trees, full of fresh fruit. If you stand in just the right spot, the trees (which always look to me like something out of Dr. Seuss) frame Saint Peter’s Basilica in picture perfect snapshot. Particularly now that it’s warm, there are often musicians playing and people sitting around taking in the view—and like the Rose Garden, this place is a magnet for couples taking romantic photos.
Even the hour-long walk home up the river was indescribably beautiful in the warmth, and I couldn’t help but begin to get preemptively nostalgic for the simple pleasures I’ll miss about Rome when I leave here next week. For now, I’ll continue to soak up the sun and smell the flowers every day.