I always had the image of Rome as this wonderful city filled with Vespas, outdoor cafés, sunshine, and afternoon gelatos. When I was doing my semester abroad in Europe, Rome was at the top of my bucket list of places to travel. I wanted to immerse myself in a city oozing culture, art, and religion. Though the flight was only one hour and a half from Lyon, the Italian capital was the farthest place I traveled living in the French city for six months. My friends and I generally took buses or trains to nearby cities, as these were cheaper than flying. But, in November we found some really good prices for flights and hotels and jumped on a plane to Rome.
On the first night we decided to go out for pizza. They were glorious, and nothing like the pizzas we had tried before. When we were done, we decided to go see the Trevi Fountain. It was supposed to be so beautiful, even at night, and we couldn’t wait. We were staying at a nice hotel in Via Palermo, only 12 minutes’ walk from both the Trevi Fountain and the Colosseum. We had just started walking when some raindrops started falling on us. In Colombia, we have a saying: “lluvia espanta bobos”. That means that it’s not going to rain heavily, and raindrops only scare fools. So, we decided to keep going.
The iconic monument was completely hidden beneath scaffolding. We exploded with laughter, finding it hilarious that we were soaking and couldn’t even see the monument.
Before we knew it, we were soaking wet. Turns out, the hotel and flights were cheap because November is the rainiest month in Rome, which means it is very low season. Without an umbrella, we were running around Rome with a wet map that was falling apart, trying to get to the famous fountain. Those 12 minutes felt like hours, my bones were freezing and the rain was so heavy we couldn’t see properly. It wasn’t lluvia espanta bobos. To keep myself going, the whole time I kept thinking of the movie scenes that took place in the fountain: La Dolce Vita, Elsa and Fred, Roman Holiday…
Finally, we arrived at the Piazza di Trevi, where the fountain should be. But, the iconic monument was under renovation. It was completely hidden beneath scaffolding. We exploded with laughter, finding it hilarious that we were soaking and couldn’t even see the monument. Whenever I imagined what this moment would be like, I pictured myself wet, but only because I was inside the fountain: I was Sylvia asking Marcello to join me. But that perfect Dolce Vita scene was so far from reality that it couldn’t be funnier. Finally, an old Italian woman came out of her café, told us to stop acting crazy and to come inside. So, we did and we drank hot chocolate so we wouldn’t freeze to death.
We had just started walking when some raindrops started falling on us. In Colombia, we have a saying: “lluvia espanta bobos”. That means that it’s not going to rain heavily, and raindrops only scare fools.
Even though it completely ruined my winter jacket, Rome did teach me a very valuable lesson. Cities, and tourist spots particularly, are what you make of them. That night we didn’t get to see the Fontana di Trevi, one of the must-see places in Rome. We didn’t take a perfect photo to post on Instagram, we just took a selfie laughing, with our makeup running down our faces. We didn’t get to throw a coin inside the fountain and make a wish. Instead, we thanked God for friendship and hot chocolate.
Don’t get me wrong, you should appreciate the grandeur of the monuments. They are iconic for a reason. But remember, traveling is meant to create memories, to learn and grow. Appreciate the moment you are living and the people you are living it with. When you go to Rome don’t push people to get a good photo of the Trevi Fountain (it is now open again), but instead try to find other undervalued treasures of your own. Enjoy the Vespa, the outdoor cafés and afternoon gelatos, no matter the weather.