This past weekend I took my first trip outside of Spain (well, aside from Gibraltar) and traveled to Rome, Italy with two of my friends. While I did enjoy Rome, going to this city really showed me that Sevilla is starting to feel like home. Here’s why:
1. I felt so lost not knowing Italian.
Every time I walked into a store or restaurant, my first instinct was to say “Hola, ¿Cómo estás?” But then I realized that they speak Italian in Rome, not Spanish and not English either (while many know some of both, Italian is definitely the main language). I felt very limited by only knowing ciao and grazie (and half the time I questioned my pronunciation of grazie). This is when I realized how comfortable I’m getting with my Spanish.
2. The city seems dirty.
While Sevilla certainly gets dirty too (especially considering the lack of rain in Andalucía to clean the streets), it’s definitely kept cleaner than Rome. Both even have street cleaning cars, but Sevilla’s must work harder (To be fair Sevilla is smaller, but it’s still a fairly large city). Also, to be fair, my “hostel” was in a somewhat seemingly sketchy area of town – located near the Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II (a landmark that looks cool on the map of Rome, but is really just a sketchy rundown park with a lot of cats).
3. There’s so much construction going on right now.
While this is unavoidable, it was a bit of a bummer when almost everywhere we went, there was construction going on – you’d think they’d stagger it between the different tourist attractions. The Vatican, the Colosseum had small amounts of construction, but the Spanish Steps and the Trevi Fountain had a lot of construction going on that completely ruined the sites for visitors. The Trevi Fountain was the worst, as it was surrounded by a large wall of clear paneling and completely drained of water (so forget about making your wish in the fountain). So if you’re thinking about visiting Rome anytime soon, I might wait until some of this construction finishes up.
4. There are too many people for me.
I can’t even tell you the amount of times I felt incredibly claustrophobic this weekend. I can’t even imagine how crazy it would be in the summer. I’d definitely recommend going in the off-season if possible because the number of people almost makes some of the sights not very enjoyable. For example, in the Sistine Chapel, there are so many people that the Vatican Police have to keep shuffling people through so as to keep it from getting completely overcrowded.
5. It takes an hour to get to and from the airport.
While I understand it’s a large city, it definitely seemed like it took forever to get to and from the airport, especially since the options are somewhat limited (unless you want to pay around 17 euros or so for the high speed train or 40 for a taxi). I love the ease of getting to and from the Sevilla airport with the quick and frequent bus rides.
6. I guess I’m falling in love with Spanish tapas.
Spanish tapas are just so easy, fun and cheap! You can pay very little for a good meal, and you can try a variety of foods. While there is 100 Montaditos in Rome, I’d rather be eating Italian food while there. I just wish they had Italian tapas!
7. Spain is so much cheaper!
I was somewhat surprised at the pricing for a lot of things, especially food and drinks, in Rome. For example, I really wanted to try Peroni, the popular beer in Italy, but everywhere I went only sold it in a large bottle that cost five euros! I’m used to paying less than two euros anytime I want a beer in Sevilla (At many places, you can get a half a liter of beer for just one euro.) And most tapas restaurants have options for cheap beer like this as well as a cheap cup of house wine, while in Italy I only saw these large bottles of beer and limited options for wine as well. Most of the restaurants I went to only sold wine in bottles or half liters, never by the cup.
While these were many things I disliked about Rome (and I’m also probably not being fair since it rained so much while I was there), there were a lot of things I liked. I loved the climate – it reminded me so much of North Carolina, surprisingly, because there are so many trees there, and their leaves were actually starting to change! The food was also pretty delicious, and I also liked trying limoncello and other flavored Italian liquors. The Roman art and architecture was also incredible as well. Michelangelo’s work in the Sistine Chapel was especially incredible, as many of his paintings were so well done that they looked three dimensional.
Overall, I did enjoy Rome; however, the trip did show me how much I’m starting to feel at home in Sevilla. I think that was part of the reason why I didn’t like some parts of the trip – it’s like I was experiencing culture shock for the first time (as coming into Spain, I knew enough about the country that I didn’t feel too much culture shock at first). I look forward to seeing how my experiences in Paris this upcoming weekend compare to Rome.