After learning traditional Italian dining customs, eating my weight in gelato, and a night of homesickness and Twilight, I’ve officially been in Rome for over a month. Things are starting to settle down, and I’m slowly realizing that although I’m far from being a Rome aficionado, I’m getting more and more comfortable with navigating this city on my own.
My knowledge of Rome was put to the test when a few of my family friends came to visit and asked me to be their “official tour guide.” My immediate reaction when they told me this was fear. Obviously I was excited to see some familiar faces, but I was scared I’d let them down. After all, how much could I have learned about Rome in just one month? As I found out, I learned enough to make a pretty adequate “official” tour guide.
When I arrived at my friends’ hotel, I was feeling confident after successfully taking a new bus route to the area but still wasn’t convinced I was ready for the title of tour guide. I immediately started to feel more hopeful as I provided some insight on catching a bus to our first stop – the Pantheon – since the public transportation system in Rome can be a little tricky to understand. Buses especially can be tough because they don’t automatically stop at every spot on their route and the stops aren’t always announced, so figuring out where to get off can be challenging when using the bus for the first few times.
After getting off at the right stop, we walked over the Pantheon. I led the way, a little wary at first, but we made it to the beautiful Roman temple- turned-church with no problems. The next stop was the Piazza Navona, my recommendation of the day. As we were about to leave, I realized I knew of a fun gelato spot in the area that I had discovered walking home from dinner a few days before. I couldn’t remember the name, but I did know one defining characteristic: it had over 150 gelato flavors. A quick google search and a five-minute walk later, we arrived at Della Palma. Considering the number of people in the store, it seemed like a tourist hotspot for gelato lovers from around the world. However, I’m counting it as a local find since I hadn’t heard of it until I stumbled into it earlier in the week.
As the day wore on, I only got us minorly lost once as we walked to the Spanish Steps and then the Trevi Fountain. I didn’t realize how much I had picked up on after a month of exploring (and, yes at times getting lost in) Rome. After all, it was only a few weeks ago that I was stumbling around the city, lost and looking for a single lined notebook only to find one at a store three blocks from my apartment.
So, do I still double check my directional instincts with Google Maps? Yes. But, are my instincts actually aligning with Google Maps routes? Yes… at least more than they used to.