This post is part of our Love Letter series: first-person accounts of what we love about Rome
Traveling, experiencing the world, understanding different cultures—they’re some of the most beautiful things in life.
But the thrill of traveling always seems to overshadow the less acknowledged beauty of going home. After growing up and living in seven cities across the globe, I know this to be true.
When we were just children, my grandfather (who was the smartest and most cultured human being I ever met) would take my brothers and me out every Sunday exploring Rome. He’d take us to Castel Sant’Angelo, to the Catacombs, to the Giardino degli Aranci. Of course he’d also take us to Piazza Navona during Christmas and buy us lots of candy (that’s what grandpas do, after all)!
The way he told us about the history of every place we visited, you could hear his passion. You could see in his eyes that he was so in love with Rome—but I couldn’t understand it.
To me, the Eternal City looked “old.” I thought the palazzos needed to be repainted. I thought the sampietrini were annoying. I wondered why we didn’t have skyscrapers like they do in New York. Whenever I said something like that, my grandfather would tell me, “One day you’ll understand.”
Turns out, he was right.
Years went by and as I started growing up, traveling the world and living abroad, I started to see Rome with a different eye.
I’d look up in awe at the Renaissance palazzos I used to think needed a makeover. The sound of church bells ringing and the sight of birds soaring over the Lungotevere made me fall in love with the city. The Motorinos speeding by, the sound of coffee cups clinking on bar counters, the pink-tinted skies as the sun set… the more I opened my eyes to Rome, the more I fell in love with it.
You see, Rome isn’t just a city. It’s the greatest city on Earth. And the more time you spend in it, the more you fall in love with it. Sure, it has its downsides, but it’s an ancient city that merges the past with the present. It’s jaw-droppingly beautiful, and it’s not just the beauty of the city that leaves you breathless—it’s the vibe, the energy, the people.
No city on Earth makes me feel the way Rome does. It’s real, it’s fun, it’s the definition of enjoying life. History, art, drama, food and wine have merged together to create the most beautiful city I’ve ever seen.
Have you ever seen Rome from the top of Gianicolo hill? Have you ever stolen a kiss at Circo Massimo? Have you ever walked inside the Terme di Caracalla? I have, and they’re sensations that never leave you.
Whenever I take my foreign friends out in Rome, I’m so thrilled to show them my city: to see the looks on their faces when they enter the Pantheon, when they look through the keyhole of the Knights of Malta, when they try a perfectly-made carbonara and a glass of red.
Rome, you may have suffered through a lot, and you may have your issues, but I will always love you. You are my grandfather’s home, my home.
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An Italian globetrotter with a gigantic crush on Rome, Federica has been travelling the world since birth and has lived in NYC, Tehran, Rome, Houston, Istanbul, London and Budapest. She loves sharing her passion for Italy’s food and culture, and has a personal travel blog about how to live la Dolce Vita around the world.