Part 4 (see below for previous posts)
My WWOOF experience was almost set to began once I arrived in Rome, Italy.
I wasn’t scheduled to be at my first farm in Ischia for another week, so I planned a few days in Rome and Naples to get acclimated to Italy.
The decision to fly into Rome was significant (to me) for two reasons:
(1) Eight years prior, I was scheduled to arrive in Rome for a college class trip, but I wasn’t able to go. Redemption.
(2) In 2009, I spent two days in Rome at the end of a backpacking trip, but rushed through the city because I had my mind set on Naples.
The above was known as “The Rome Regrets” (to me), and I was able to address that dark chapter in my life by bumming around the eternal city with a box of red wine in my bag. It doesn’t get any better than that.
My cousin’s friend, Federica, agreed to pick me up at Fiumicino Airport on the coast, and drive me into Rome. I had booked a few nights at Alessandro Palace Hostel near Termini Train Station where I bunked up in 2009.
I would spend four days in Rome, and wanted the experience to be unique and fresh. Although I wasn’t sure what would happen the next three months in Italy, I knew Rome was a great place to start and I had plenty of sights that I wanted to see. One of places off the beaten path that I wanted to visit was Cinecittà, the famous movie studio of Federico Fellini. Many told me there was nothing to see in 2012, but I didn’t feel the same way. Throughout the three months I would continuously hear “why?” from natives, and although the answer wasn’t always simple, I had to make it simple. “I don’t know. Because I’m here?”
In 2009 I had seen the main sights, and was thankful for the experience, but I wanted to see real Rome (or at least as much as I could). However, the Italians were always quick to remind me, and rightfully so, that one can’t just have an immediate understanding of local culture after a few months. One can try though.
Alessandro Palace is one of the highest-rated hostels in Rome. It’s a short three block walk from Termini Train Station, and a great way to meet other travelers. There is a crazy bar on the main level, and I ended up going on two pub crawls around Rome with people from all over the world. Good times.
Federica was not actually from Rome, but nearby Frascati. As we drove into Rome, I learned just how crazy traffic can be. After getting caught up on my cousin (the one who told me about WWOOF), we grabbed some coffee, found my hostel and made plans for a road trip to Umbria.
I checked into Alessandro Palace, and set up shop on the rooftop with a cheap box of wine. It was an exhilarating feeling to be in Rome on day one. I didn’t know it then, but I would wind up on the island of Santorini in Greece, and even as far as Istanbul, Turkey. That’s not uncommon for a backpacking trip, of course, but this three-month experience was something different, and would have more grapes and olive trees than hostels and pub crawls. However, on the first afternoon in Italy, I sat on the rooftop of Alessandro Palace, and drank red wine while I wrote.
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