Torre Argentina – The Cat Sanctuary – How can you not like this place? Besides those who are allergic to cats or people who truly hate them, the Cat Sanctuary is a place that many people enjoy and go to when they need their animal fix. There are all different breeds of cats housed here, and many of them have disabilities. What some people don’t realize is that there is a room downstairs that is open to the public where people can play with the cats and learn more about the sanctuary. All of these cats have their own personal stories about why they are disabled, how long they have been living at the sanctuary, and they are all named and unique. As heartbreaking as the disabled cats’ stories are, one can tell that Torre Argentina is an amazing place that truly cares about the cats; it works to give them a life better than what they had.
Sandwich shop – “Aristocampo” in Campo di Fiori – This sandwich shop is dangerous. I’m not saying I feel physically threatened when I am here, but the amount of times I crave a sandwich from here scares me. Luckily, it seems as if it is always open, especially late at night when my friends and I are hungry after a night out. There are too many possible sandwich combinations to count, but to me, the absolute best ones are the hamburger paninis. The sandwiches can be a little pricey being 6-6.50 euros, but it is undeniably worth it. A secret tip is that there is another sandwich shop right around the corner from here that sells premade sandwiches that are not as good but good enough for 3.50 euros. If you are ever low on money or the line is too long, this place is a good substitute. Aristocampo is hands down the best sandwich shop I have yet to find, and I’m lucky it’s not as close to where I live or else I’d be eating them all day, every day.
Cooking Classes in Rome – I love food and I love to eat. I’m in Italy and to me, it’s the best place I can be because it has the best food. I eat out at too many restaurants to count, but when I don’t, I cook food easy to make such as pasta or wraps. However, when I took a cooking class at “Cooking Classes in Rome”, I learned how to make elaborate 4-course meals completely from scratch. Everything about the class was great from the welcoming atmosphere, the incredibly friendly staff, and of course, the food. The process of learning how to make every dish was extremely interesting to me because I assumed many of the courses were too hard to make on my own; I would never try to make them by myself. I was surprised to see how easy everything was to cook, and it definitely made me appreciate how much time and effort it takes to make a great meal. During one meal, we had Cavatelli-shaped pasta with fresh tomato sauce and basil, meatballs with fresh garden herbs, potatoes with rosemary, and lemon custard with kiwi. Even though there were many of us preparing and cooking the food at once, it definitely didn’t feel as if there were too many cooks in the kitchen because of how organized everything was. This was one of my favorite meals in Rome so far, and it is really cool that I was able to help make it.
Il Girone dei Golosi – Gelato store – This shop is one of my favorite places to grab gelato. It is located really close to my school, and I often find myself passing it almost every day. It has many flavors to choose from such as cookies, Nutella, mango, and others, but my favorite is definitely the white chocolate flavor. Ever since the very first taste, I was hooked. For the cheap price of 2 euros for a “small”, you get a lot of gelato, and the gelato is actually really good.
Abbey Theater Irish Pub – This is my favorite bar in Rome that I’ve been to so far. I like the atmosphere of it and how spacious it is. Even when there are many people inside, it never feels too crowded to the point where I want to leave. The bartenders are incredibly friendly, and everyone always seems to be having a good time. I even celebrated my birthday here! On Tuesdays they have “Taco Tuesday” where tacos are only 1 euro, and although I’ve never been, my friends rave about it so it must be good. If you want to go to a fun bar, I recommend this one above the others.
Piazza Navona – I don’t think I will ever be able to get over the beauty of this Piazza. With the huge and intricate fountains and the pretty buildings surrounding them, it is definitely a sight you have to see while in Rome. I really like Piazza Narvona particularly because of the story it tells of the two artists who were using their architecture as a way to fight with one another. The Fountain of the Four Rivers by Gian Lorenzo Bernini and the Pamphili Palace by Girolamo Rainaldi are products of a long dispute between these two artists. It amazes me that these two gorgeous structures are the result of a feud; it’s pretty cool what can come from hatred towards another person. I really like grabbing a sandwich and sitting out in this Piazza with my friends on a beautiful day and watching people see everything for the first time. Like them, I am still amazed every time I come here.
Gianicolo Hill/park to run – Living so close to the Gianicolo Hill, I find myself running to it and through the park close by whenever I want to go on a run. The hill has one of the best views of Rome, and the park is one of the most beautiful and largest ones I’ve ever seen. The hill and the park make for an excellent run as it doesn’t even feel like exercise because of how much exploring I end up doing. The park reminds me of Central Park in New York City due to it’s beauty and enormity. I love how many people I see enjoying the park and the outside in general whether they are playing a sport, having a picnic, or sleeping under the sun. This is the perfect place to go to for exploring when you don’t want to be inside.
Trevi Fountain – The Trevi Fountain is a close tie with Piazza Navona in being my absolute favorite place in Rome. The beauty of it is incredible, and I still can’t, nor will I ever, be able to wrap my head around how someone was able to envision and design such a large masterpiece as this fountain. I like this fountain because of how hopeful it is to me. People from all over the world come here to make a wish, and the optimistic atmosphere is extremely encouraging to forget about the negative aspects of a bad day, if only for a little while. It is great how the money collected from the fountain is used towards the city, as it is an easy way to obtain extra funds. Eating a gelato on the steps or visiting the fountain at night are included in my favorite things to do in Rome, and I love that I am fortunate to be able to do this.
Bioparco di Roma – The zoo – Like how I get my animal fix at the cat sanctuary, the zoo in Rome is another great way to get to see animals like all of my pets that I miss from home. Maybe I liked my time at the zoo because the day I went, Valentine’s Day, was so incredibly beautiful, but whatever it was, I really enjoyed the zoo. Even the walk to it was pretty as we had to walk through another large park. I would have never even known another park existed had my friends and I not decided to make a day trip here, and I am so glad we did. The zoo itself had many exhibits with plenty of animals to see even though it is in the middle of one of the busiest cities. My favorite animal was the orangutans because one of them literally went crazy on my friends and me completely out of the blue seconds after of being adorably cute towards us. As scary as it was, it was just as funny. The zoo made for a great day trip, and I am so glad that I went.
Porta Portese Flea Market – If you need anything, anything at all, there’s a good chance you will be able to find it at this flea market, the largest in Rome. Do you need a mirror? A purse? A bird? You’ll be able to find it here. After spending a whole day searching numerous stores all throughout Rome for a pea coat, I was able to find a brand new one at the flea market for a whole lot cheaper than the prices I saw at the stores. Even if you want to just walk around to see what the market has to offer, you will be amazed at how many stands are set up and how many products are being sold. Living so close to the market makes it easy for me to buy cheap things I need without having to go searching for it in many stores. Everything can be found here, and the close proximity of the stands makes it not only convenient but fast to find what you are looking for.
Sydney is a student at University of North Carolina studying at John Cabot University (JCU) in Rome, Italy through SAI Programs during the Spring 2014 term.