Sunday, December 13, 2009

Food, wine & music in Frascati

Last Sunday my friend Ana and I took a day trip to Frascati. The Lawyer (a guy I had a little flirtation with when I first arrived) had invited me there one evening but I turned him down since he asked me at the absolute last minute and I just don't roll like that. But he made it sound really cool so I put it on my list of cities to check out. Frascati, about 20 mins away from Rome by train, is known for its wine so it’s a popular nightlife destination for Romans looking to do something different on a Friday or Saturday night. But without access to a car, Ana and I decided to just go for the day.



It’s a beautiful little town but that’s not really saying much because Italy in general is beautiful—you gotta be bring a whole lot to the table if you want to stand out as a special, unique city. Physically I wouldn’t rank it any higher than say Milan. BUT the trip to Frascati will stand out as one of the best, most-authentic days I had during my entire stay in Rome.



There was a huge street market going so we wandered around the town for a while (it seemed like every single resident and their dog was out enjoying their Sunday afternoon passagiata), looking at the random merchandise, stopping in the church and checking out the views of Rome. Finally we stumbled onto a piazza that had cart after cart of the very thing I came after: PORCHETTA.


Last year a porchetta shop opened on my block in New York. It got great write-ups and there was always a long line out the door but I would pass by the place every day without so much as a second glance. I'm just not normally a pork eater, if I have it five times a year its a record. But now that I was in Frascati (right next door to Ariccia where porchetta comes from) I had to have it—if only to be able to tell all those downtown hipsters I had the real deal :)



So we stopped a man on the street and asked him to point us to the best place to buy porchetta. We bought the sandwiches along with a large container of sundried tomatoes, artichokes and grilled eggplant (all of it drizzled in olive oil) and walked down the street to the cantina he recommended.



Now this was the coolest part: you buy your lunch then bring it to a tiny little cellar that serves nothing but homemade wine. For 1 Euro we got to fill up a pitcher with wine from the huge barrels in the back of the shop, spread out our food on a picnic table and eat and drink to our hearts content.




While we were eating we chatted with the owner of the cantina as people came in and out with empty bottles to fill up with wine (someone even came with a empty liter bottle of Pepsi, no joke). As our wine ran out, Max (the brother of the owner) came over and filled our glasses back up with wine from his pitcher. He was clearly nuts (in the best possible way) but we somehow got into an interesting conversation with him about Italy (he emphatically insisted that he wasn’t Italian, he was Roman) that segued onto the topic of music and he told us he was a musician who performed all over Lazio. Suddenly he stood up and ran out of the shop. Five minutes later he came back with his guitar, plopped himself down at our table and started to sing for us.



Aside from us, there was an older couple from Rome who had driven to Frascati for lunch. Between listening to the beautiful Italian songs, talking with the older couple, speaking in French with one of the customers (he was explaining the concept of the cantina to us but asked to switch to French as his French was better than his English—yay for knowing a foreign language!) and chatting with the shop owners, it was an incredible afternoon. We stumbled out of there 3 hours later, tipsy from the delicious wine (in addition to the two carafes we bought, Max must have filled our glasses 4 times), stuffed from all the great food and grinning from ear to ear. I live for those kinds of experiences.

video

One funny thing to mention: there were tons of gnats flying around the cantina, one even fell in my drink. I’m really squeamish in general but the owner insisted that they wouldn't hurt us and it was totally normal to have them around since they just finished making a fresh batch of wine that morning. Um… ok. We spent half the time swatting gnats and trying to keep them from falling into our meal. As we were leaving Ana joked, “Don’t worry. If we’re lucky we only ate 10 of them.”

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Happy Immaculata!

Today is Immaculata, a feast day dedicated to the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary. It’s a national holiday in Italy but since I’m not Catholic (and in fact grew up in the Protestant tradition) I had never heard of it until a friend mentioned it yesterday. After doing a bit of research I learned that it’s sort of a big deal—big enough that the Pope comes out to give a public blessing and pay homage to the Virgin.

Now a chance to see the Pope in the flesh, Popemobile and all, was too good to pass up so I walked over to the Spanish Steps and took my place with the hundreds (thousands?) of other people packed into the piazza. By the time I arrived at 3:30pm (the blessing started at 4pm) I could barely find a spot on the Steps so I can only imagine what time the folks with the front row seats got there.

I couldn’t see the entire ceremony from where I was standing on the steps (the Pope places a garland of flowers on the statue of the Virgin Mary at the other end of the piazza) but I did get to see the military guys come in, the whole motorcade procession and THIS:

video

And I’m done. I can go back to New York happy now :)

Monday, December 7, 2009

Day trip to Ostia Antica

I spent an afternoon at Ostia Antica, the ancient Roman colony founded in 620 B.C. It’s a quick 30 minute trip on the metro so I decided to go there one afternoon last week and check it out.

The funny (or sad?) thing is that I was so spooked out by the place that there were a couple instances where I didn’t do/see everything I should. I just didn’t expect the place to be so damn creepy! Just imagine traipsing through a bunch of old ruins, its nearly deserted, deathly quiet, in the middle of nowhere, with crazy pigeons popping out of every corner to scare you half to death. Yep.

Like at one point, I walked down this long deserted backstreet to check out the old tenement-housing complex. It was built for the lower-middle class families, complete with several 5-story apartment buildings and even a tavern that had a real bar with shelves for food & drinks, a sink and wall paintings— very cool.

Towards the back of the area there was a building with stairs you could climb up to take a peek inside the apartments from above. I really wanted to look inside. But after a few minutes wandering through the deserted, maze-like place the hairs on the back of my neck started to stand up (it was Ostia’s “projects” after all).


It was like being in a horror movie and I just though, 'You need to get your ass out of here before this turns into some sort of Night of the Living Dead situation!' So I quickly left—walked back out and onto the main path where there were at least a few other living humans. Its so stupid, believe me, I know. Why would I be freaked out by a bunch of old buildings? lol, as my mom would say, I need Jesus.

The thing was that it was a random Wednesday afternoon and it was late in the day so there were hardly any tourists around AT ALL. And the whole place has an eerie, frozen-in-time vibe… if I had known I wouldn’t have gone by myself. To my defense, my friend Ana went a few weeks ago and said she felt really creeped out too and left early. So I’m not totally crazy :)

(The Theatre)

Anyway, here are more pictures from the trip. It was still awesome. Very cool to wander around an ancient village, its so amazingly preserved (the entire town was covered in mud after a bad storm which preserved it and kept it safe from medieval thieves until the excavation in the 1930s and 40s). At the same time, its always hard for me to really wrap my mind around something of this magnitude. This town was here centuries before Christ. That’s a whole lot of history!

(The Thermal Baths of Neptune... cool mosaics on the floor)
(The Mill from 120 A.D., where grains were ground by twisting those blocks of stone)
(An oven to bake bread)
(The Grand Temple/Forum, dedicated to Jupiter, Juno and Minerva)
(Gov't-subsidized forum baths: it had steam rooms, pools, masseuses, the works!)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The countdown

2 weeks from today I’ll be leaving Rome…

As I write those words I still can’t believe its true. Where did the time go? I feel like I just got here and yet nearly 3 months have passed since I first arrived. Initially I planned to go home for the holidays and return to Rome in the New Year. This was based on the idea that I would have a great apartment to return to... not the case. Lord knows I can’t and won’t stay in this SanLo apt a second longer than I have to. And with no home to return to I don’t know if I’ll be returning at all.

Leaving Rome feels almost like a breakup. Even though the city kicked my ass a few times, I loved it here and the fact that I have to say goodbye so soon is heartbreaking. But when I look back at this experience, it won’t be Rome that makes me smile the most. What I will think of most is how Rome served as a base for me to explore this beautiful country. Before I arrived I made a list of 19 Italian cities I wanted to visit while living in Rome—I’ve since crossed off 13 of them and that fact thrills me to no end. I have seen the most incredible sights and have collected experiences that I'll be able to savor for a lifetime.

But more than anything Italy brought me back to myself. Just a few months ago I woke up to the realization that the life I was living wasn't for me. The nearly 10 years I spent working in my field were great, perfect for the girl I was then. But by the time I got back from Paris I had finished that chapter and was ready to move on to something new. What? I didn't know. But then there I was, back in that same old job, feeling miserable under the weight of other people's expectations... until I decided to return to Paris. And from there began my journey of being totally authentic to myself. Loving myself enough to ensure my own happiness, seeking out my life's purpose, trusting my instincts, taking a leap of faith. By coming to Italy I proved to myself that I have the strength to start over; that doing things for the simple fact that you want to is not always a bad thing and definitely not something to be ashamed of; that sometimes the unclear road is the best one to take. And finally, I learned to love this period of uncertainty. To really relish in the simple act of living just as strongly during the times of doubt (as Rilke phrases it, "living the question") as when you're floating through life with a concrete plan in place. Its the most valuable lesson I can take home with me. Boy, have I lived. And by now I've walked too far in the right direction to start moving backwards... the road is still uncertain but I'm finally at peace with that and I'm excited about what will come next.

Speaking of strength, last year I saw Benjamin Button and this speech from the final scene really resonated with me:

“For what its worth, its never too late to be whoever you wanna be. There’s no time limit; start whenever you want. You can change or stay the same—there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it… I hope you make the best of it. I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. And if you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again.”

I'm going to enjoy my last days here: spending time with friends, traveling around Lazio, eating everything I can get my hands on and just soaking up the magic of Italy. Living here has been surreal and I’m really going to miss this crazy place. The good news is that I've thrown enough coins in the Trevi Fountain... I'll be back :)

Saturday, November 28, 2009

On family...

My aunt and cousin came to visit me for a few days last week and we had an absolute ball. Their timing couldn’t have been better… they arrived in Rome on the same morning that I lost the apartment of my dreams so I didn’t have time to wallow in self-pity. They just helped me clean up the SanLo apt, get the place organized and stock the fridge with food. And they convinced me that I was better off just where I was.


We didn’t do much touristy stuff—a trip to the Vatican for Sunday mass, a stroll through Trastevere, a nighttime walking tour of the major touristy sites (Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain, Piazza Navona), shopping on via del Corso and a visit to the Colosseum. One night we had dinner at Tram Tram in SanLo,
another night dinner and drinks at Etabli; but other than that we stayed home. My aunt is the typical Haitian mother and insisted on cooking three elaborate meals every day instead of "wasting money" by eating out— great for me considering that I was wiped out from my Amsterdam trip. So we spent most of the time in my kitchen, sitting at the table drinking wine & prosecco, eating and talking.

At one point, my aunt decided to cure me of my single status by teaching me how to cook (which is of course is the indicator of whether or not a woman is ready for marriage, lol).


She taught me how to make pork chops, rice & peas and potatoes (in lieu of plantains) and it turned out pretty darn good if I do say so myself, especially since it was my first shot at cooking something other than spaghetti.


When they left on Tuesday morning I was really sad to see them go. Being so far away I often miss my family so it was nice to have a little slice of home with me, even for a few days. Plus I haven’t laughed so hard in a long while.

For the record I must say (I'm a bit biased but so what): I think Haitians are hands down the best storytellers ever. I don’t know if it’s due to growing up in a country where most people don’t have regular access to other forms of entertainment (TV, movies, etc), but no one can tell a story quite like a Haitian can— the kind of story that has you on the edge of your seat, eager for more. Its the intonation of their voice, the colorfully outrageous choice of words used to describe the simplest things, the facial expressions, gestures, dancing and full out Oscar-worthy acting that leave you with tears running down your face, gasping for breath. Sadly I wasn’t blessed with the storytelling gene but I've been lucky to have been around it my entire life.

Though my parents came to America when they were teenagers and I had a very typical suburban American upbringing, our family was always intrinsically Haitian (much to my chagrin when, as a kid, I just wanted to be like everyone else). I remember lying in bed with my grandparents and my mother every Sunday morning, listening to them “by blag” (telling funny stories, the level of truth varying widely). And even though I could barely understand their grownup talk at that young age, I laughed right along—it was better than any sitcom I’d ever seen. I remember holidays and parties when all my aunts and uncles would get together, the shrieking laughter that would go on all night, and my cousins and I, the American-born kids, begging our parents to keep their voices down as we tried to watch cartoons in the next room.

These stories are meant to serve as warnings, teach lessons, share family histories, gossip about things going on “back home”, reminisce about the good old days, and sometimes just plain entertain. Translated into English it would lose its magic. Its a beautifully rich culture with wonderful old traditions and though I haven't been to Haiti in many years, its such a part of me. Its something I want my children to experience but considering my fabulous way with languages it probably won’t be me who teaches them :)

So it was in that world that I spent the past 4 days. The fun we had! It still makes me smile to think of it.

I’ll leave you with a little T-Vice, a popular Haitian band my aunt turned me on to… go figure.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

A real Amsterdammer

Ahh, Amsterdam. How I love that beautiful city.


I met E’s sister-in-law at her wedding in Ardeche this August. She’s a super sweet girl and her husband (E’s brother) is also really great. We had a blast in Ardeche so when they invited me to come to The Hague to celebrate her 30th birthday in November I agreed. Even though I hardly knew the couple, I figured there would be a few other people at the party who I did know so it would be fun.

E, who lives in Paris, just signed on for a new film (she’s an Art Director) shooting in Amsterdam so she would be there; an old friend from college in New York happened to be in Amsterdam for a business trip and to celebrate his 28th birthday; I would get to see a bunch of friends who I haven’t seen since E’s wedding; I planned to take a train to Berlin afterwards to see a dear friend who’s been doing the music thing out there for the past 2 years; and I’d get to see another part of the Netherlands and visit my beloved Amsterdam again after a long 2-year absence.

In the end none of that worked out. The production on E’s film got pushed back so she wasn’t coming to Amsterdam after all. My friend in Berlin got a last-minute gig in Spain. A few of my Amsterdam friends were out of town or busy with work. My New York friend and I kept playing phone/email tag and didn’t end up meeting up. None of the people I knew ended up going to The Hague for the birthday party so it was just me with 40 semi-strangers. And it didn't help that by the time November rolled around I was broke from my train trip around Italy. Plus it was freezing cold and rainy every single day—which is such a pain in a biking city. It was just one of those trips. But when you travel you have to be prepared for everything to go wrong and just be determined to have a good time anyway. Not to say I didn’t have a great time—its impossible not to in Amsterdam—but if I hadn’t gone, things would have been much better on my wallet.

(Vending machine dining on Leidseplein at 2am. Surprisingly delicious)

I arrived on Wednesday and my friend picked me up from the train station and took me back to her place to drop off my bags before she went back to work. The absolute first thing I wanted to do was go to the movies to see ‘This Is It’, the Michael Jackson documentary. Rome being Rome, they only have a handful of random English-language movies playing at any given time. Everything else is dubbed in Italian. And I desperately wanted to see the film before it left theatres (by the way if you haven’t seen it yet, go immediately. I cried like a baby the entire way through. Then again I’ve been a die-hard MJ fan my whole life).

My friend lent me her bike and I spent the entire week trying to be as much of an Amsterdammer as possible. I wanted to relax on this trip, to see just how lazy I could be. I spent long luxurious days in the brown cafes, rode up and down the canals just to admire the scenery, went vintage shopping on the Nine Streets (I bought a fabulous fur coat and a great army tote bag) and the Dam, ate anything Dutch I could get my hands on, hung out in various English bookshops, had lovely dinner parties with my Dutch friends, met friends for drinks, checked out a couple music venues at night and visited a few sites (including the Anne Frank house which was incredible).

(Anne Frank House)


(Hotchpotch at Moeders restaurant)

I even became a local at Café Winkel—I went there so often that the waiters started saying “See you tomorrow!” when I left. They’re known for their delicious appeltaart and once I tasted it I kept going back for more. Plus its a super cute café in a great neighborhood—cozy and warm and I would stake out my favorite seat in the corner, order my pie and latte, read a book or write in my journal and watch the rain fall outside for hours. It was blissful.


On Saturday I left for the birthday party in the Hague. I was a bit self-conscious since the party would be full of strangers and people I barely knew. But I was determined to make the best of it. I helped with the cooking and the setup.



I was prepared for a lousy time but it actually turned out to be really cool. Nothing to write home about but a nice atmosphere. I mingled with the guests and met lots of interesting people—among them a renowned physicist and a rock musician and a Dutch guy who entertained us with stories about his trip to Compton (LA).

On Sunday afternoon we took a tour of the Hague.

Stopping by the beach for pancakes, and the city center for raw haring, a Dutch quick snack speciality. I'll try it once but that was more than enough for me (note: it does not taste like any sort of sushi). I guess its an acquired taste.

Then we walked around the city center, window shopping and checking out the Sinterklaas displays (is it just me, or is the concept of "Black Pete" very bizarre?). The Hauge is a really nice city but its no Amsterdam so I was happy to get back on Sunday night.


On my last afternoon in Amsterdam I went to check out the new Jimmy Choo collection at H&M (it sucks by the way) and happened to park my bike in front of a coffeeshop.

I’d never been inside of one before. The last time I was here my friends wanted to show me the real Amsterdam, minus the stereotypical touristy stuff so I skipped it. The thing is, I’m not a smoker but I always thought it would be interesting to give it a try in Amsterdam since its legal and all. I hesitated for a couple minutes before finally deciding to go in. I went up to the bar and looked at the menu while I waited in line. I felt kind of stupid trying to figure out what was what while everyone else just came in an expertly ordered their drug of choice. By the time my turn came up at the counter I was already feeling a bit lightheaded from the contact smoke so I decided to leave. I’m such a lightweight (this summer I tried pot brownies for the first time and spent an hour throwing up in the bathroom) Lord only knows what that Dutch weed would have done to me! lol, maybe one day I’ll finally try it but not this time.

So that was my trip. I had a great time and it was so awesome seeing all my friends, but by the end of the week I was so ready to get back to Rome. I’m not sure when I’ll get to go back to Amsterdam again... but next time it had better be warm out! That winter weather is no joke!


Saturday, November 21, 2009

Ain't that about a bit*h...

The past two days have been an absolute whirlwind! Intense highs and lows, all within a 24-hour time period. You know when every single thing that can possible go wrong DOES GO INSANELY WRONG?!

About 2 weeks ago, just before I left for Amsterdam (still need to blog about that, forgive me), I got an email from a woman who saw my Craigslist ad in search of housing. K is an American filmmaker who lives in New York and keeps and apartment here in Rome. She emailed me and said her place would be available from mid-Nov to late-Dec and from the pictures and description it looked great. Unfortunately it was also out of my price range and I told her so—she said she would email me in a few days and if no one else was interested in the apt I could have it for my price (I gave her a figure at the upper end of my budget). A couple of days later I got the “OK” from K and we scheduled a time for me to view the place. She was in Germany but her French boyfriend B could show me the apt the day after I got back from Amsterdam. I went to see it on Thursday evening and it was absolutely gorgeous. It’s a cozy 2-bedroom apt in a lovely old building near Forum Romano, beautiful indoor courtyard, amazing views of the ruins and a big slice of Rome, all white furniture, working fireplace, new electronics—it looked like a hotel. And the best part is that it would be all mine. I quickly agreed to take the apt and scheduled to come by at 8:45am the next morning to hand over the money and get the keys from B.

That night I was literally on cloud nine. I could finally leave the hellhole of an apt I was staying in and really enjoy my last few weeks in Rome (more on that later). I stopped by the ATM but it wouldn’t allow me to withdraw the full amount so I decided to do half that day and get the other half the next morning. But the machine spit my card back out, giving me the message “Invalid Card”. I didn’t think too much of it, just went home and called my bank. They said they would increase my credit limit so I could withdraw the full amount and my card would be functional again within the hour.

At this time L (the girlfriend of the guy I’m renting my room from) comes by to pick up the money for that month's rent. She didn’t get my text so I had to explain to her that something came up and I would be moving out in the morning. After a little protesting she left but 30 mins later I get an angry call from T (the guy who’s room I’m renting) from Ghana. He was going on and on about how I have to give him the money for the month anyway since I gave him no advance notice that I was leaving. I was going to tell him exactly where he could shove his stinkin’ apartment but once again my mom had (wisely) told me to be polite and calm and just say I was sorry for leaving suddenly but something came up. We ended the call with my telling him I would do my best to try to find someone to take over my room and we would discuss details later.

2 hours have now gone by so I went back to the ATM. Again, “Invalid Card”. I tried several times then decided to walk down the street to another ATM. Still no go. By this time its midnight and I’m starting to freak out. I tried to call the bank again but there was a long wait for a live person so I said to myself, 'Ok I will go to bed and wake up at 6am to try again'. Then I'll have 2 hours to straighten this out with the bank if my card still doesn’t work.

Meanwhile I did feel really bad about skipping out on T. He’s a really nice guy, its not his fault that his roommate is sh*t and he lives in a crappy neighborhood. So I prayed on the situation—I asked God if I had done the right thing and to show me some sign if I had made a mistake. The next morning I go to the ATM to try again: “Invalid Card”. I’m on the phone with the bank for the next 2 hours—alternately running to the ATM and back to my apt to frantically call and tell them its still not working. On their end they said there was nothing preventing my card from working—no block, no hold, my available daily limit had in fact been increased. And the weird thing is they didn’t even see any activity showing that I was attempting to make a withdrawal.

By this time its 8am and I have to head over to the Forum apt to meet B. I tried 3 more ATMs along the way, each one said “Your card is not valid for international transactions”. I was nearly in tears. When I arrived B was in a big hurry—he had to leave at 9am to catch his flight. He looked at me and said, “Where are your bags?” and that’s when I told him what happened. I told him I had my checkbook for my American bank account and I could write him a check for the amount in US dollars but other than that, my hands were tied. He told me that since it wasn’t his apt he’s not sure what K would want him to do. Understood. He said she was flying back to NYC from Germany that day but I could try to reach her. He would leave the keys with the grocer downstairs and maybe in the next day or two it would all be sorted out and I could move in then.

I called K and couldn’t get through to her. So I sent her an email asking her to let me know what we could do ASAP. Meanwhile, L had been calling me nonstop all morning, 15 times in a row! I ignored it. She was in the neighborhood and wanted to come pick up the keys from me. By noon I still hadn’t heard from K and the idea of being homeless on the streets of Rome just didn’t sit well with me. Plus I couldn’t dodge L’s calls and texts any longer so I took a deep breath, called her and gave an Oscar-worthy speech: I told her that I had slept on it and realized that I made a mistake in not giving them adequate notice that I was leaving. That they were really nice people and I didn’t want to leave them in the lurch so I would do the noble thing and pay for one more month. I wasn’t sure if I wouldn’t be able to stay for the entire month but I would let them know if I had to leave before Dec 15th. In any case, this would work out nicely for them as they would not have to scramble to find a replacement. It would put both our minds at ease. (Thank God I my mom made me be nice about it in the beginning or they could have thrown me out on my ear!)

And with that, the Forum apartment was gone. I was irrevocably tied to the SanLo apt until Dec 15th.

By 2pm K finally sent me an email saying she was at the airport but I could send her the money via Western Union and when it posted (next Wed) I could go pick up the keys and move in. Of course, Western Union costs 50 Euros and since I was already exceeding my budget for this apt, I just couldn’t afford the extra expense. Plus by that time it was too late. And there’s no way I could have stayed in the SanLo apt for another week while I waited for the money to clear. So I would have had to move into a hotel and that’s just way too much drama and expense. I tearfully wrote her back saying that I wouldn't be able to take the apt after all.

And wouldn’t you know it, by 4pm that very afternoon my ATM card suddenly decided to work. Now ain’t that a bit*h...

I believe that everything happens for a reason. Yesterday was a strange series of events that made it IMPOSSIBLE for me to get that apt:
1. My card stopped working the day I needed to withdraw money; in the 2 years that I’ve been in Europe (and the 3 years I’ve been with this bank) that has never happened.
2. B had to leave Rome at 9am, if his flight were in the evening instead, my card would have been working again and I could have given him the money.
3. K is traveling and doesn’t have access to phone or internet so I can’t contact her to find out how she would like to handle things. Maybe that US check would have been ok.
4. My cousin arrived from NYC with enough cash to lend me for the rent. But her train got into Rome at 10am, just one hour after B left.
5. By 4pm my card is working again, 7 hours too late.

I don’t believe in a vindictive God so I know it wasn’t that He was punishing me for handling things badly with T and my sudden move-out. God makes no mistakes so I know there must be a reason why I was meant to stay here in SanLo (to work on my patience perhaps?) or why I shouldn’t have been at that Forum apt. I have no idea what it is. And even knowing that everything worked out exactly as it should it doesn’t stop it from hurting (it was soo painfully close!). I just have to swallow the feelings of disappointment and keep it moving… I will stay positive and continue to enjoy my time in Rome regardless. As a wise man once said, “You can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it.”