Touristy. Dangerous and disturbed. Chaotic. I arrived in Rome on the day of the Manifesto, and so first impressions and hearsay of the place had always been more a zero than hero. I only planned to have a stingy 2 days in Rome, but amidst the mess I suddenly felt myself wanting to leave. Sweaty, frustrated, lost and stranded with heavy bags and without public transport, I could not get out of there soon enough.
“Nevermind, be brave little girl”, I told myself, “and stick it out”. I’m glad I did, because with a flip of an attitude switch, I calmed myself down and the city gave me an amazing time.
What I loved most about backpacking through Europe for a month was the accomodation choices I generally had, and Rome was overflowing with plenty. I skipped the hostel here and did a homestay that I found via Roomorama. Taking over a local Italian girl’s bedroom for 25euros a night came bundled with promises of tales of rich history and showing me the best Tiramisu in the city. Seemed like a great deal to me. I was sold.
The best Tiramisu is apparently at Bar Pompi, Rome. It comes in 3 flavours – Classic, Pistachio, and Strawberry Cheesecake!
This is no ordinary walk in the park – I step where the Roman Emperors made their mark.
Roamin’ the Roman Ruins at the Roman Forum
And so here I was in Rome, living with the Piermarinis. The location of my apartment was a 10minutes walk to the subway, and completely connected to all the main attractions within 15-40minutes. The best part of my location was sleeping next to Italy’s oldest gelato (Italian ice-cream) factory.
I entered and exited everyday with an 80s style lift, it looked like a shell from a prison cell, and I looked forward each day to going up and down. It was just like from the movies.
Friendly neighbour consideration applies: If you don’t close the door properly, the residents on all the floors would not be able to use it!
The local Italian lady (Angela) who’s room I was stealing now lived in America, but her Mom was happy to have a temporary daughter. My new Italian Hot Mama cared for me while her chubby hubby cooked for me and did my laundry.
In return, I cooked him kimchi noodles. I don’t think he ate any but he was so amused at the Asian twist to his usual al dente spaghetti.
Even though it was only for four days, I felt like I was living la vida local in Italy. I had a snug bedroom to myself while pictures of my new family clung onto each adjacent white-washed wall. The shelves were still filled with all of Angela’s things.
An added bonus of staying with the Piermarinis was a new American friend. The New York girl roomed next to me, I made minimal noise so she could have her beauty sleep. She was chatty, smart and travelled, and we became fast friends. I slept with her for my last night (but not in that way). I snagged the upper bunk – I always loved being closer to the top.
We had dinners and swapped touristic ideas, attraction advice, stuck together most nights and even checked out a club.
One of the Piermarini brothers was about my age, and he loved some of the things I did too… Like martial arts and clubbing. He happened to be one of the most popular club promoters in Rome, and offered to put me on the guestlist for all his parties. I took him up on one of his offers, and NY chick and myself got dressed up to hit up this Italian town.
It was a very local nightclub, and I think we were the only foreigners (you know this when you get stared at or yelled at). For a while I was a little scared, but knowing that my brother-for-rent was one of the party organizers gave me confidence in my skin. We slid 6-inch heels on our feet, gave the bouncers our deets and skipped in to the beats.
Of course, along with the affirmation from the locals on Rome’s attractions, I did other cool stuff besides clubbing. Checked out the Colosseum, for example.
Michaelangelo’s Room of the Muses was stunning.
If you go to Rome, don’t miss the Vatican for the world.
Made friends on the bus and had a mini-Italian dinner party in Campo Di Fiori.
I also tried my hand at some Italian love letters – this one is a thank you note to my gracious and beautiful host/Italian Mama.
It really made all the difference having my very own Italiano family to chat with and care for me. Besides the beauty of the place, they showed me the passion of the people. Molto Grazie to the Pierminano family.
If I stayed in a hostel or a hotel, I would not have had this unique viva la local experience at all.
Thank you to Roomorama for my Rome roaming and rooming experience.
Where to next? Find your own room experience here.