Last week began after my first Saturday and Sunday in Rome. I finally felt that I had my bearings, or somewhat knew my way around and was ready to take on the city in stride.
However, my first day of classes was cancelled because my two teachers were sick and traveling the world, and the next day my first official class didn’t start until 2 in the afternoon, which seemed like a breeze because…like I said before, I’ve never dealt with such a massive amount of free time.
Fortunately, with my newfound comfort in knowing the city streets, my feet moved with my confidence. Rather than running circles around my building in fear of my phone dying and getting lost and mugged in the process, I took to the more populated areas, the parks, and the river. With each deep breath and jump forward I found myself in parts of the city you don’t experience in guided tours; there were painted steps to a hidden hiking trail, small green hobbit doors hanging behind winding ally-ways, and lots of non-tourist filled gelateria’s.
But for me, seeing these things while beautiful wasn’t what made my morning runs the best part of each day. It was the melting of music into my ears; the adding of sound to the city. With my headphones on full blast, the busy traffic and strange conversations were tuned out. I could gaze at monumental building and the rushing Tiber with movie soundtracks narrating my travels. Combining the power of music and the visual beauty of Rome made it difficult to find any problems of loneliness or loss.
My playlist consists of jazz, for when I want to feel deep, Bruno Mars when I want to dance and sing while running (I look like a fool, but looking like a fool is much more fun than not) and Brandon Flowers because.. he’s the man and has consistent running tempos. Obviously, Beyonce and JT are sprinkled in there too.
And thanks to my music I know Rome as well as I knew Chicago, and Boston, and Los Angeles. It’s no longer a new pair of kicks hurting my heels, but a worn in shoe happy and ready to be walked in while leading me to knew adventures.
I visited the Vatican, Saint Peter’s Basilica to be specific, and while it beautiful it was a little disheartening. In my opinion, there was perhaps too much decoration, but seeing Michael Angelo’s sculptures and one lovely stain glass window was worth the trip. In addition, my professor that brought us there is a sparky little old man with a passion for radio and excitement, so the tour was far from boring.
But with my first week of classes down, one class on film, survival Italian lessons, a wonderfully handsome professor and the tour through the church, me and my new shoe attitude were ready to venture out of Rome to unknown territory.
My roommate and I took a train down to Naples, where we saw Pompeii, the ruins, and mount Vesuvius, which I wanted to hike so badly, but something about “ice” and “bad winter conditions” prevented me from doing so. I suppose I can wait; patience was never my forte.
(you can’t tell but I’m freezing^)
But, the skies were so BLUE, as you can see from the pictures, and something about seeing mountains and water just gave me an extra ounce of needed joy. But, the barefoot traveler still can’t wait to breathe in some nature and actually stand on a mountain top (coming soon, this weekend).
As far as Naples goes, I’m not a huge history buff so while the attractions were interesting my favorite part of the trip was the food. I’m a foodie at heart, and Naples, the founder of pizza, was no joke.
The morning began with my triple espresso shot and a warm sfogliatelle (which I butchered pronouncing when ordering) it had notes of lemon and powdered sugar with a soft center and crunchy pastry shell. Then, after walking the city for the hours, we sat down at L’Antica Pizzeria da Michelle.
I was unaware, before walking through the door, that this was there very restaurant featured in Eat, Pray, Love; Julia Roberts’ picture was pasted on the wall. OH MY GOSH. Hands down the best pizza I have ever tasted in my entire life. I love food, but tend to be critical of things until I find the best. So believe me when I say: I would legitimately travel the 5 hours it took, roundtrip, just for that pizza.
And then, came Sunday. Being at the center of Catholicism was made more evident to me after visiting Saint Peter’s. I knew that finding a church would be challenging, but alas I still have faith. The service I attended was okay, but I didn’t feel renewed or challenged or at peace, until I placed my headphones back in my ears while leaving the church, got the best gelato Rome has to offer and listened to Worship music once again wandering the streets
Perhaps it was a coincidence that the first song I ever led for worship came on when I started my Spotify, but it struck a moment of realization that God is present, that in chaos and confusion he is sovereign.
Sprinkled throughout the week music from the city surfaced. I found underground jazz clubs, live music restaurants, people singing opera on the trains and playing violin in the streets. Any worries or fears that I felt each time some melody came to me was instantly gone. Music centers and focuses me for everything to come.
Aaaannd, since I have traveled outside of Rome there will be a podcast about Naples, coming out (hopefully) Friday where some of the street music will be featured, so tune in. In the meantime, walk your own city with a favorite playlist, it really is the best way to indulge in a place’s glory.
Bri the barefoot traveler