A Love Letter to Rome: 8 Things I Won’t Miss and Some of the Many I Will
I’ll miss blindly walking into your chaos, fumbling in my ignorance like a virginal lover. It is my first time in Rome.
I’ll miss the ciao bella following me down the streets like an echo bouncing off the lips of men.
I won’t miss Italian bureaucracy (See: My boss wanting me to stay a few months longer, my wanting to stay a few months longer, my boss having money to pay me to stay longer. Yet, I can’t, because bureaucracy).
I’ll miss this bumpy stone street. This one right here, squeezing its way through the buildings. I’ll never find a street like this in California. But here, it is any street, every street.
I’ll miss the clusters of scooters and smart cars awaiting their owners, parked eagerly on what may be curbsides.
I’ll miss ivy colonizing whole buildings.
I’ll miss the buildings with their peeling paint, the grand entranceways, the ornate facades, the wooden shutters flung open. They’re all various warm hues of beige: orange beige, pink beige, red beige, brown beige, beige beige. They make me ask, “Were you ever garish orange? Garish pink? Garish red? Were you bleached by the sun or have you always been subdued?”
I won’t miss Italian bureaucracy (See: Making me move and spend my last week in a room without wifi).
I’ll miss: Under green eye shadow, the always smiling eyes of the woman who serves pasta at the canteen. The daily trek from canteen to bar for our regular post-lunch caffè. Standing at the bar with the group, shaking the sugar packet in my hand until our little cups of pure goodness are presented to us and subsequently downed.
I’ll miss responding to my coworker’s ciao bella with my own ciao bello and his ensuing explosive laughter. Laughter at the sound of Italian mangled by my tongue or the fact that I’m the only one who says ciao bello, I still don’t know. I suspect both.
I won’t miss Italian bureaucracy (See: Telling me I need to move. I wake up at 6 am and spend 2 hours packing my things only to have someone tell me I don’t need to move. I unpack half my things and am then told that oh, I actually do need to move.)
I won’t miss Italian drivers. The stereotypes are true.
I’ll miss Italian drivers and the little bit of adrenaline they inject into my day when I cross the street.
I’ll miss looking out from the minuscule balcony of my room at the Italian countryside — vineyards, groves of olive trees, and grand country estates, all soft in the morning sun.
I won’t miss coming into the shared kitchen and grabbing the sponge only to find it cold and sopping wet. (Why can’t people just squeeze the damn sponge? No one wants a mildewy sponge!)
I won’t miss the tiny excuse for a kitchen with its two stovetop burners, mini-fridge, lack of oven, single pot, and single pan.
I guess I will miss the tiny excuse for a kitchen. It’s humble and approachable. It made cooking for myself and the full-blown adulthood that signified seem doable.
I’ll miss eating pasta an average 1.6 times per day and convincing myself that it’s normal.
I’ll miss passing through the town’s tiny streets, arms and back laden with groceries, the sound of Radiolab in my ears.
I’ll miss the grocery stores: the mozzarella, the tomato sauce aisle, the mozzarella, the prosciutto, the mozzarella, the fresh pasta in the refrigerated section, the mozzarella, the crinkly plastic gloves for protecting the produce from your grimy skin, the mozzarella. I’ll really miss the mozzarella.
I will miss gelato.
I won’t miss Italian bureaucracy (See: They buy my plane ticket using my money, but they only do so after a week when flight prices have rose by €100).
I’ll miss the plethora of Tiger stores littering the city. I can never resist browsing. I maintain that if Martha Stewart and Zooey Deschanel had a love child, it would be Tiger.
I’ll miss the wretched summer sun and the blustery November days. The summer sun is wretched and the November days are blustery in much of the world, but I’ll miss experiencing them here.
I’ll miss speeding through the deserted 2 a.m. roads on a vespa, arms wrapped around the warm body of a stranger named Lorenzo. He’s one of 7 Tinder matches named Lorenzo but the only one I bother to meet. I won’t miss it too much. Driving through the empty streets of the Eternal City on a vespa felt all too romantic, all too intimate to share with a stranger named Lorenzo.
I won’t miss walking always with my hand on my purse because we all know how many pickpockets there are in Rome.
I won’t miss the man who came up to me and his greedy voice. Don’t worry. I don’t want your purse. I want you. You need to protect yourself, not your bag. I won’t miss the need to escape as he followed me down two blocks.
I’ll miss the one side of the phone conversations I overhear on the train: Pronto? Va bene, va bene. Ciao, ciao.
I’ll miss the gurgling of coffee in my moka pot on the stove, summoning burbling delight and hope that maybe I really can be a morning person.
I’ll miss sitting on bus 769, listening to the Hamilton soundtrack, passing through the neighborhoods shielded from the ravages of tourists.
I’ll miss the Colosseum at night: the giant and its selfie-stick brandishing worshippers who are at the end of their trans-continental pilgrimage to bask in its glory (or at least get a great selfie). I’ll miss trying to catch faint whispers of the gory epics that transpired here. I’ll miss how the Colosseum seems larger at night, large and bright against the darkness, larger than life and me and history.
I won’t miss the hordes of tourists, with crumpled map and ruffled Lonely Planet in hand, crowding the whole city.
I will miss the hordes of tourists reminding me how lucky I am to be here. After two months, I’m still just a tourist. I haven’t even dipped my toe into the depths of Rome, and I doubt I’ll ever get the chance to dive in.