Rome’s been rainy recently — and it’s the kind of rain that puts Philly storms to shame. I’ve spent the week teetering on the edge of sidewalks to avoid puddles, jumping at each clap of thunder, and testing my reflexes as cars drove past the small lakes that have formed in the roads. At first I didn’t mind the constant rain. After weeks of travelling and romping around, it was nice to have a reason to stay indoors – an excuse for the fact that the longest walk I’d take was to the little cafe across the street. But after the the fifth straight day of rain, I was going a little stir crazy. So, when the chance of rain one day went from 70% to 30%, I threw on a rain jacket and headed out.
Rome reminds me of Philly in that, although you don’t have to look too hard to run into historic monuments, you do have to be more intentional about finding nature. The parks in Rome are unlike any parks I’ve seen at home. Usually when I want to get out and see some nature, I head over to Villa Borghese, which is located a couple of blocks away from Temple Rome as well as my apartment. However, this day, even that was too close. I settled on the park Villa Ada, a 30 minute tram ride away. As I hopped on the 19 tram, I immediately recognized some friends of mine from a class (sidenote: it is STILL weird to me that I can run into people I know by chance in Rome).
They were headed to the stop before mine to check out Quartiere Coppedè, a beautiful district of Rome built by architect Gino Coppedè between 1913 and 1927. It’s known as the fantasy or fairytale district by some and is an eclectic mix of medieval, ancient Greek, Art Nouveau, and Baroque architecture. I decided to take a quick detour on my way to Villa Ada to see this hidden fairytale of Rome. Even under construction, the building standing at the forefront of the district was incredible. Walking under its arch, I felt like I was entering a different world. The district was tiny and quiet, but powerful and awe-inspiring.
After walking around the area for a bit, I headed off to Villa Ada. At first, the park seemed unruly and a bit difficult to navigate. The recent storms meant I had to navigate through fallen branches and muddied paths. However, I eventually came across a clearing in the woods that opened up to a wide field flanked by trees on both sides. A small path ran down the middle. I saw a group of people walking as their dogs ran ahead of them, happily chasing each other and barking, and immediately thought of my mom. (I know if she lived in Rome, the first thing she would do is join that group — she’s a big deal in our dog park community at home.)
As I followed this middle path, the park continued to transform. Unruly branches were replaced with benches, playgrounds, and community work out spots, and lakes took the place of the mud pits. The park presented an oddly perfect combination of looming forests and manicured lawns. Think Wissahickon meets Rittenhouse Square.
As much as I hoped to keep my phone usage to a minimum, I couldn’t keep from stopping every few minutes and take a new picture. Since getting to Rome, I honestly haven’t taken that many photos. But here, I found myself unable to not at least try and capture some of the beauty I was experiencing. It’s hard to believe that in the course of one day, I experienced three seemingly separate worlds: a city, a fairytale, and a forest. In my time left here, I can’t wait to discover more of the worlds nestled in Rome.