Tag Archives: Rome


11 Jan

I’m traveling with my family for two weeks. First stop, Rome. Here’s a letter I wrote to my grandfather, who recently learned the power of email (a big step up for a lifelong typewriting devoté). Photos tk.

Dear grandpa,

We arrived yesterday after a slight delay to lovely, clear weather. On the plane, an Italian guy who said he was in New York to “make myself a happy new year” taught me some words in Italian. He spoke no English, but we managed in Spanish — which seemed to forecast the rest of the trip thus far.

The airport is surrounded by rural farmland, which gradually becomes an urban center, albeit one with short buildings due to zoning laws. What makes Rome special — to me, at least — is that the old is mixed with the new: a turn of the corner casually unfolds into the girth of the Colosseum. A few hills happen to house the settlements that mark the beginning of Rome.

We then found our kosher b&b, which is off the map. It’s kind of nice to be staying outside of the touristy areas. It feels more authentic, though I hate to use that word. There’s even a kosher place near us. After settling in and grabbing a slice of real Italian pizza, we hopped on the subway to the terminai, their big train station. It was large and well-lighted.

After my mother declined a one-euro trip to the bathroom, we figured out how to get on an exposed tour bus (no small feat, if you were wondering.) We did that for two hours, which gave us an incredible view and narrative of this gorgeous city. I especially loved the Palazzo Venezia — located on the Piazza Venezia, it was used as a papal home in the 1500s; then the embassy to the Republic of Venice; then as the home for the fascist government: Mussolini spoke from its famed balcony. Now it’s a museum, whose annex seems to be currently housing a Van Gogh exhibit.

Fewer people speak English here than one might expect. I make due with Spanish — and that vocab book in my left pocket. I’m at the point where I can ask coherent questions in Italian, but cannot necessarily understand the answers the provoke. (Key questions, for your reference: Come fare il taxi? Dove fare il biglietto?) It’ll come…

Then we went to dinner in the Jewish ghetto, where much art was on display.

We’re about to go to the Colosseum. Then the Vatican.