I kept a diary of my thoughts and opinions in Rome which I wrote at the end of every night so I’d have an in-depth record of the trip
The day started off pretty damn disastrously with 2 panic attacks after waking up at 11 because I’m an absolute idiot and fell asleep when I intended to stay awake. So after Amy being absolutely amazing and helping me calm down and Bev calling me a cab, I finally got to the airport.
That cab driver probably hates me right now because I was the definition of nightmare passenger, screaming and angry and raving about how we were going to slow. When I got in the cab he told me it would take 15 minutes to get to the airport. We made it in 8. I don’t condone my behaviour in the slightest, it was completely rude and unacceptable, but it worked.
As expected, take off was horrendous but I just listened to music and grounded myself. Once we were in the air I curled up with my copy of The Picture of Dorian Gray and got stuck into it for my SDP research.
We landed and got onto the coach that would take us to the hotel. We noted how different all the trees and architecture are in Italy. The buildings are all either villas on the outskirts or tall terraces with many floors in the city itself. We drove under a gorgeous sunset and I was just so happy to be there.
Once we got settled into the hotel, we got changed and went to find some food. After walking around for a really long time, we finally found a tiny pizza place and sat down outside to eat. Because there were so many of us, the food took ages to get to us and I was one of the last to get to eat. We were waiting for so long and unfortunately the pizza wasn’t worth it, it was okay, but not worth waiting over an hour for.
After food, we set out to find the Trevi fountain. We ended up taking a really scenic route down this street filled with fully bloomed orange trees. Callum climbed up and picked one which we split. It tasted weirdly…sour. It was like an orange flavoured lemon, really weird.
We saw a street near the Trevi fountain that had loads of really nice looking shops and restaurants that we may end up visiting one night. We eventually found our way to the Trevi fountain.
It’s HUGE! I wasn’t expecting it to be anywhere near as big!! It was also incredibly magical. It looked so beautiful, all lit up at night and the water was so clear. I took loads of photos of it. There were dozens of people trying to sell polaroids to tourists and they seemed obsessed with me and my hair. I had at least 5 come up to me and ask to take my picture but I refused. It was quite disconcerting.
We all loved it so much that we decided to come back with a picnic and wine one day and enjoy it properly.
After this, we set out to find the Spanish steps and then find a bar that we could sit in for a bit. We took a very scenic route and never actually made it to the steps but we got to see a lot of Rome at night which was lovely.
By the time the others had found a bar to drink in, Sam, Bethan and I decided we wanted to head back so we slowly wandered back, taking photos as we went. We went to explore the metro at night to see what it was like as we were heading back to the hotel. It wasn’t running but it was really cool to look at and there was a really cool mosaic on the wall.
The first day was brilliant however I felt really self conscious at time because of my appearance. Many people have stared at me like I’m an alien. Also, this seems to make street sellers and photographers obsessed with me which makes me feel quite anxious. I’m kind of worried what the Vatican will think. I’m just going to be careful.
After a rough awakening, we got dressed and headed to the Colosseum. The sunny weather was absolute bliss. After a short while walking, we came to a park housing a small ruin which I’m sure would have had treasure in it if this was Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood.
In the park there was a man surrounded by cats, cuddling them and stroking them. In that moment, I wished I was that man.
We got to the crest of the hill and there we saw the Colosseum. I couldn’t stop bouncing with excitement. After seeing it in pictures, exploring it in game form, I am finally here. Once we were inside, it was the most surreal thing, I couldn’t quite believe I was IN THE COLOSSEUM.
From the second tier, you can see the whole inside. The huge oval frame encircles you creating a whole new skyline. It was incredible, being in one of the original theatres in the round. How can somewhere so incredible have been a place of so much death?
After this, we decided to head towards the Piazza Venezia. There were loads of beautiful ruins that we took pictures of and we saw loads of people playing music all along the streets.
We stopped for pizza in this tiny restaurant and for some strange reason, they wouldn’t let us share pizzas so we got one each and save half for later.
From here we headed to the spot where Julius Caesar was killed which they’ve built a cat sanctuary underneath! I took loads of photos and short video clips so I could reminisce about my hour petting cats in Rome. Molly wanted to adopt one but it was ridiculously expensive. I could’ve adopted them all, I could’ve lived there.
Molly hadn’t seen the Trevi fountain so we decided to head there next, via the Pantheon. Next to the Pantheon was a leather bound book shop. It looked beautiful, it smelled beautiful. It. Was. Heaven. I could’ve bought everything in the shop but in the end, I settled on a notebook with Da Vinci’s drawing of man, inlaid in gold which was really, really worth it.
We didn’t go into the Pantheon, instead, we made plans to come back another day and continued onto the fountain. We grabbed a gelato and ate it as we got to the fountain. After taking photos we were all really tired so we decided to head back to the hotel for some down time.
On the way back I noticed the stalls Sam, Bethan and I had walked past the previous night were opened and all of them were book stalls. I broke off from the others to have a look but quickly discovered all of the books were in Italian. If they weren’t, I could’ve bought a library, genuinely.
Feeling hungry for books and saddened by not finding any in a language I knew, I decided to take a short cut through the station to the hotel. Just inside the station door, I saw a huge bookshop that said ‘International’ in huge letters so I ran inside to have a look.
I decided to pick up some Italian classics and a really nice copy of Such, Such were the Joys from the ‘Books in English’ section. I got to the desk and realised I’d left my bank card in my room so had to run back and get it and then come back to get the books.
After this I headed back, showered, changed and went out for wine with Amy and Molly. Molly said there was this cafe she wanted to check out so we headed up there. The staff there were incredibly nice. We got prosecco and they gave us free food. A lot of it was meat/fish and so I had to tell the waiter I couldn’t eat it and so he apologised and brought me something vegetarian instead which was so incredibly nice of him, I was shocked and really grateful.
We decided we would splash out and split a bottle between us because the prosecco was so nice. The waiter told us they don’t normally sell it by the bottle but before we knew it, another waiter had whipped out an ice bucket and brought it over. We asked how much it was and he said something like 38 euros which we said was too much so he took it down to 30.
Stunned by their kindness and generosity, we thanked them, paid and left. We decided to stop for gelato and a cocktail on the way back which resulted in even more free food and the best Irish coffee either Amy or I had ever drunk.
We just relaxed for the rest of the night before heading to sleep. This day was amazing and I got so much closer to Amy and Molly which was really great.
The only downside has been the cat calling. I thought the cat calling was bad in England but I was so wrong, it’s nothing compared to the stares, shouts, people touching me, grabbing me, asking to come to my hotel and it’s making me angry and uncomfortable.I love it in Rome but the sexual harassment made me want to scream.
Amy had booked an early ticket to the Vatican so we ended up getting up at half 7 which meant a relaxed morning of getting ready to go to the Vatican. We all headed to the metro and got it most of the way. We ended up getting off a few stops early but it was fine. We split up and walked the short route to the Musei Vaticani.
Buying our tickets in advance turned out to be an absolute blessing because it meant we got inside really quickly. Once we got inside, we stood awestruck at the beauty of Vatican city. We walked around the museums, marvelling at the beauty of everything, we were there for ages.
When we got to the Sistine Chapel, I began to cry. An overwhelming wave of emotion of the monumental beauty of it all hit me and I got so emotional. They don’t allow pictures but I snuck a few shaky ones anyway.
We then went to the gardens, sat and had lunch. I collected my little bit of dirt for my country collections and we decided to go find Amy.
I was desperate to go to the Castello di San Angelo so we walked along to find that so I could see the places I’d completed so many missions on Assassin’s Creed.
From here we crossed the Tiber and headed to the Spanish steps that we couldn’t find on the first night. They were really pretty but after all the walking, we were so ready for food so we went to a little restaurant and treated Julie to lunch.
After walking most of the way back, we decided we may as well walk all the way to the hotel where we collapsed with exhaustion. Amy’s tour guide, Jad, from when she went round the Vatican alone, said he would take us for drinks and dancing so we had a few drinks, got ready and went to meet him.
Jad was lovely and everywhere we went he’d tell us facts about it. It was like we were getting a night tour of Rome which was great. We passed the cat sanctuary again and got distracted by the cats so spent ages with them again. We went to this crazy underground bar and danced for a while until we got tired and headed back.
On the way back, we met two Argentinian guys who were headed our way so they walked us home. They were so lovely and it was an opportunity to practice my Spanish, which I had forgotten a lot of.
Julie said we walked 8.3 miles when we got back to the hotel after the Vatican and this added to the miles we walked after we split off from her must add up to much more! Again, I’m so proud of us for making the most of this beautiful city.
Today was the day to see all of the Assassin’s Creed sites I had yet to see here. This meant going inside the Pantheon, so after a lazy morning, we headed down towards the Pantheon. The inside was even more incredible in person. The roof was just so huge and such and amazing feat of architecture.
Outside the Pantheon there was some sort of demonstration going on and there were cameras everywhere. We didn’t ask anyone what it was about, but I made a mental note to look it up later.
After this we split company and headed out on our own. I headed to the final Assassin’s Creed destination, which is so specific to the game that no one would be interested in coming with me, The assassin’s hideout on Isola Tiberina.
On the way, I saw and art book store so I ducked inside to look around. I ended up buying a gothic illustration book about crazy hairstyles.
The way I walked to get to Isola Tiberina took me through the Piazza Venezia, past the Campidoglio to Teatro Marchello and over the river. It was a beautiful walk and I was really happy to be walking past so many amazing monuments
I had no idea what I’d find when I got to Isola Tiberina. It could have been rubble, rebuilt or exactly as in the game. I know it’s only a tiny island in the river but I wasn’t expecting it to be quite so small.
To my absolute delight, I saw that the tower was exactly as in the game but it’s now a police station which there’s some sort of irony to be found in.
I went into the tiny Basilica next door which was beautiful with paintings on the wall and stain glass windows lining the walls.
I settled by a tree across the square from it to write and read some Machiavelli in the sun which was an amazing way to spend my afternoon. After this, I walked around the island, looking up at all the buildings. I wish there was a way I could have looked around inside because I was just beaming at being in the place I’d explored in simulation.
It began to rain lightly and my bad knee was in absolute agony so I decided to make my way back to the hotel for some downtime before meeting back up with the others. It was a long trek and I had to stop every so often because of the pain. I stopped to buy souvenirs and eventually made it back.
I finally got wifi to message my friends and my mum, tidied up the room, ate, packed and relaxed for a couple of hours. When Molly and Amy got back, we sat and talked for a while then Amy headed out and Molly and I went for pizza across the road which was the best pizza of the week although I was too exhausted to eat much.
I worked out we’ve walked at least 30 miles this trip which, combined with little sleep and water, has taken a serious toll on my body and I decided to get an early night.
Today’s catcalling has been the worst so far. Within 5 minutes of leaving the hotel, I had 2 disgusting old men making kissing noises and leaning in towards me on separate occasions which just made me explode and start shouting at them. I am just so sick of it. I’ve had a week of staring, leering, jeering, verbal abuse, kissing noises, sexual motions, grabbing and people asking to come to my hotel or asking me to go to theirs. I have never been so disgusted and ashamed to be a girl in my life.
I felt uncomfortable being outside. Every guy I saw seemed threatening, especially when I was alone and I felt the need to make myself as small and invisible as possible to quell my anxiety.
I’ve been sexually harassed before but this is the worst place I’ve ever been for it. However this hasn’t ruined the trip because this is one of the only faults of the trip. The other is that this trip wasn’t longer.
I woke up with an overwhelming sense of dread. I don’t want to leave, there’s still so much to do and see. There’s so many things I don’t want to go back to. I don’t want horrible student meals, cold, rain, responsibility…
Once we were packed up, we checked out and loaded into the coach to the airport. It was a nice, relaxing ride but as we got closer and closer to the airport, I started to feel worse and worse and by the time we got there, I was thoroughly miserable.
It took us a while to get through check in because many people’s bags were too heavy and had to go in the hold. Take off was, again, horrendous but now we’re in the air.
This week has been incredible, I’ve seen amazing things, ate amazing food, met amazing people and got closer to the ones I came with. I couldn’t have asked for better.