I am entering Week 3 of my semester in Rome! And what a busy two weeks it has been! I was as excited and exhausted after my first week of classes at Temple Rome as I was when I started my first classes at Holy Cross.
The biggest difference is the temperature: I got to experience the Mediterranean breeze at the beach in mid-September! Not expecting any New England weather here!
At orientation, we got plenty of tips on travelling around Italy and Europe during the semester. I took one of the Temple Rome staff’s suggestion of taking a train from Termini station (in downtown Rome) to Santa Marinella, which is northwest of the city. I heard that the beaches close in mid-September, when students go back to school, so I wanted to see a Roman beach before it closes.
I bought a ticket for last Saturday. The ride was an hour long. As the train moved closer to the coast, I noticed the stark contrast of the bustling city and the quietness of the seaside.
The beach was a 10-minute walk from the train station, and once I stepped foot on the sand, I felt like I was in a completely different time of year. The sea breeze, the smell of saltwater, and the soft sands reminded me of hot July afternoons on the other side of the Atlantic, where I would go to the beach with my family from a young age. I couldn’t believe that this was what I was feeling in the middle of September, of all times!
I loved looking at the rows of umbrellas planted on the beach like a bright orange and red forest by the sea. It surely made my day even brighter!
I walked further inland away from the seaside restaurants and sat in the shade at a local park. I enjoyed the quiet atmosphere and cool breeze under the trees. I also enjoyed seeing a name I recognized: J.F. Kennedy, of all names! I did some research on JFK in Rome, and it turns out that the 35th president of the United States went to Rome in the 1960s! The park also has a pizzeria and bar further along the road. I found a sign that said “Funny Park” on it. My thoughts, exactly!
I walked south again toward the shore and walked past a curious site called Castrum Novum. I caught a small glimpse of the sign. I did some research on the place and found out that the archaeological site, whose name means “New Camp” in Latin, was first identified in the 1600s.
The most recent archaeological dig was an international effort in 2010. The report I found online said that the researchers found pottery under the sea near the site and that there is evidence of an ancient settlement that used a very worn Roman road.
Looking out toward the sea, I saw wooden paths to little sunbathing spots above the water. If only I weren’t so keen on finding dinner at the time! I would have loved to sit on a chair and read above the sea.
I found a ristorante (restaurant in Italian) on my way back toward the train station. I got to practice my improving Italian with the waiter, who smiled at my attempts to read the menu and order food in an unfamiliar language. I still had to stop and think for a bit before I spoke, but I think I’m getting better at forming sentences.
And what timing: we learned about food in Italian class! I learned that the primo (primi in the plural) is usually a pasta, rice, or soup dish, and the secondo (secondi in the plural) is usually meat or seafood. I think I did well with my Italian – I got exactly what I ordered, and I loved eating fresh seafood by the shore! I enjoyed my Spaghetti alla Pescatora (Seafood Spaghetti) and my Frittura Calamari e Gamberi (Fried Calamari and Shrimp).
The food was so good that I ate until I was stuffed. I ended up taking some calamari home with me. The waiter was happy to give me a box for my leftovers at the cash register and to give me the bill when I said “Conto!” (“Bill!”) afterward. This was a word I learned at orientation, when Temple Rome staff told us about Italian culture in eating out. I paid the bill, thanked the waiter, and went to the train station as the sun set.
I turned back for one last glance of Santa Marinella. What a view, with the colors in the sky! So different from the view I captured in the afternoon. I stopped to enjoy the breeze one last time.
Finally, it was time to go back. My train would be departing the Santa Marinella station at 7:41. I made the 10-minute walk back to the platform and waited for the train. Back to my home in Rome I go!