I know, I know. I promised I would post more frequently. Ma poi… arriva la vita. So, while I have a day to myself, I am going to feed you this GIGANTIC mega post to fill you in… Read as you wish, dip in and out, throw your whole laptop out the window… I don’t care. But if you DO decide to read, you might find out some secrets about my life here in Rome… Ok, andiamo…
The title of this post is inspired by my wonderful italian-speaking friend. While moaning about how I have been wildly busy and have been unable to find a moment to write the blogpost I really want to write, she laughed and said to me ‘stai cazzeggiando!‘ I hope you will agree that this is an essential phrase. It means ‘you are f*cking about,’ and by GOD, have I been. Let me catch you up.
Since my last post, I have become a regular social butterfly and have gone on numerous adventures with my newly-acquired friends. I had intended to write up each place in its own separate post, with its history and impression, but I honestly cannot find the time, SO HERE WE ARE. Instead, I will tell you what I saw, what I did, and what happened.
First up, Verano Monumental Cemetery
According to my phone (because I have no concept of time living here), on January 17th, myself and two friends went on an adventure to the Verano Monumental Cemetery. The cemetery is situato in the San Lorenzo neighbourhood, a neighbourhood known for being full of students and their exuberant energy. However, inside the grounds, it was incredibly quiet, bar me stessa and my friends babbling to each other in our elementary Italian.
My dear friend Ben has a vast knowledge of basically tutto. On this occasion, he delighted us with the story of the cemetery and the various important gente who were buried here. As a not-particularly-religious person, I did not absorb much of this knowledge. However, one thing I really enjoyed was visiting the tomb of a young ragazza. Her statue seems as though it moves forward past you, striving into the next life, with only her nome engraved below: Mathilde. We left her a rose on her grave before we left to grab a coffee and chill as the sun fell.
Ristorante Hokkaido & Faffing About
January 18th, I went on as I meant to continue. After our language lezioni, Yu Jung, Emma and myself all headed to our favourite boojie lunch spot near Termini: Ristorante Hokkaido. It is a Japanese buffet ristorante where you can order all you like after paying a flat dining fee. My god, do we love it here. You can get sushi, rice dishes, noodle dishes, sizzling meat servings – you name it. It is SO GOOD. And not crazy caro, which, if you are broke most of the time like me, is important.
After eating ourselves sick, we floated to a cafe to laze in the sun. You will see by now a pattern is forming. Most days (sun willing) I find myself falling helplessly into a sedia somewhere to lie in the sunshine and drink coffee in its final rays. It is a time honoured Roman tradizione. One of my favourite things about having Italian language friends is how essential it has become to speak Italian. With no other common lingua between us all, Italian is the easiest way for us to connect and share our stories. Or imparare origami… Like we did on this day.
Romeow Cat Bistro, Basilica San Paolo Outside the Walls & Trastevere Aperitivo
Ok, so January 18th I had an ODYSSEY of a day. After scuola, lounging around having coffee with friends, we all decided on a plan to go out that evening for drinks in Testaccio at Tram Depot. It was my idea, and eventually, mia culpa, because I had been there before with a boyfriend and I had loved the atmosphere.
Alessandro and I decided we wanted to adventure more. I hadn’t been back to the cat bistro in too long, so I dragged our dumb asses down to my part of la città to stare lovingly at some fluffy cats, drink coffee and eat tiramisu. It was worth every single cent.
After hanging out with some gatti, we went to The Basilica of San Paolo and my god, it was stunning. Despite living vicino, I had never been inside before. It is incredible.
Poi, we headed out to Testaccio only to find Tram Depot chiuso. With our friends hot on our heels, we decided to pivot and made tracks to Trastevere instead where we found the rest of our group. We had a great night, however, all the photos I took are APPALLING, so, moving on …
Hidden away, only 10 minutes walk from the Villa Borghese, is this absolutely dreamy district in Rome. January 22nd, I decided I was going on an after-school avventura to Coppedè. Ale and I got the bus and trekked our way to this lesser-known fantasy district. I will not try to speak to the beauty of this quartier, but per fortuna, I actually took semi-decent photos of the beautiful fountain and buildings which make up this area.
After this leisurely stroll around a neighbourhood of embassies, we walked through the Villa Borghese Gardens and up to one of the most famous viewpoints over Rome. It does not get much more beautiful than that. After a pisolina back at my apartment to wake up, I got dressed for the night ahead. I met Yu Jung and her best friend for dinner in Trastevere. We then went to drinks with our friends and ended the night in un luogo secreto which for legal reasons I cannot name or declare the purposes of… but it was cracking. 101 and if you know, you know.
Cena with friends
Ok, on January 24th I had the most delicious meal of my life courtesy of marvellous Yu Jung. Again, I took cute photos but I will retain the privacy of my friends. HOWEVER, I will inform you that during this delightful dinner amongst friends I received an absolutely inappropriate message from a man of the cloth. That is all I have to say. No more questions, please and thank you.
Volunteering in Rome
To wash off my secondhand sin (just kidding), I met with the Community of Sant’Egidio in Roma to help with their food drive on January 27th. I had actually completamente forgotten that I had signed up for more information until I received una chiamata the night before to join them for a mass and after, a food drive. I felt a bit nervous, if I am honest. Usually, I can fake it ’till I make it in new social situazioni, but this was my first real time interacting with true Italians in Italian in a non-customer setting. Other than some sneaky dates… Anyways, andiamo avanti.
My fears were unfounded. Not only was I able to understand quasi tutto of what was said during the mass, but the community were so welcoming and gentile. I don’t know why that surprised me, given that they are a group of volontari, however I really appreciated it. We split up into gruppi based on what areas needed us and divided the food and supplies.
Given that I live close to Garbatella, Ostiense and Tor Marancia, I was a part of this group. Our group ha fatto un giro to provide food and beverages to those who lived in campers, under shelters and in porticos around the area. With one uomo in particular, I had a great chat in Italian, where he was dismayed to find out that I am ventiquattro and unwedded. I laughed and agreed with him. I asked him if he knew any suitable suitors for me. It was his turn to laugh at me.
Palazzo Massimo & Why I am an awful influence
After school, myself, Ben, Yu Jung and Emma all met up to go see the Palazzo Massimo collection. Inside, there is an incredible array of wall paintings, sculptures and busts from Ancient Rome, most of which, I gather, was from the Late Republican period onwards. You know what that means.
The fantastic Classics nerd that I am, I then subjected Ben to an impromptu seminar about memory and commemoration in the Ancient Roman Empire, including frequent rambling tangents to discuss my favourite Ancient Greek plays and why the sculptures displayed are so important. I imagine, much like how I zoned out in the cemetery, he more than likely nodded his head and smiled like every good friend should when their friend goes off on a passion rant.
After the museum, we all regrouped for a quick wake-up drink and a bite to eat. I went on my merry way home, knowing I had to get ready for aperitivo at 9pm with friends. However, plans changed and we ended up hanging out in our friends’ appartamento for their last night in that palazzo. Despite not drinking and despite my assurances that we would get l’ultimo metro home, we ended up playing and staying out until the first metro the following day… This may or may NOT have been my fault. However, I doubt any witnesses will come forward to testify to my guilt… I have damning evidence…
The following Sunday, mi sono svegliato early to adventure out to the famous Porta Portese Mercato. This market is gigantic, held every Sunday, and takes up the entire Via Portese. After such an active few days, I was totally broke, so I didn’t imagine I would find anything I’d really want to buy… but then…
After buying an adorabile jumper and a pair of sunglasses (THEY WERE ESSENTIAL, OK!), I bumped into an amico who was shopping with the same guilty expression I was. We wandered through the stalls together and chatted about our classes, our styles, what life was like before COVID-19, who we were when we were younger, who we want to be… You get it. After a while, we wandered off to meet yet another friend for lunch who was leaving the very next day to go home. Over delicious pasta and fried artichokes, we planned her final night.
Again, it is always me who wrangles tutti into coming on a night out, despite the fact I am spesso the first to leave. We all reunited at Coming Out Bar by the Colosseo. Somehow, no matter how careful we are, we always managed to have some sconosciuto cause us drama every time we come to this bar. Our first group outing, we had a sugar baby, her sugar daddy and a very high-on-coke-friend of hers almost cause a rissa da bar. This time, we had a creepy old man who tried to buy everyone a bevanda so he could lurk on my dear carino baby friend. Oh, not on my watch, Mister Boomer. Sfortunato, seeing as the staff and people in the bar are some of the loveliest people in Rome. Honestly, I think it is noi.
Sick of this creep, we all sketched out to our other favourite hangout: Blackmarket Hall in Monti. Safe from creepy men and drug-related shenanigans, we came back together to celebrate our wonderful friend and try to convince her to abandon her life back home and just stay in Rome with us forever. We did not succeed, with her reminding us all that we all have lives to get back to at some stage but that we will always have Roma to bring us back into the delightful, delicious nonsense that is being 20-something and the days where non facevamo altro che cazzeggiare.
Ciara Aoife O’Síoráin (che desidera diventare una bella donna figa come gli italiani)