When I was eleven I toured Italy with my family. However, due to the fact that I was much more interested in the health of my Neopet than Italian culture and gastronomy, the trip was interesting yet far from culturally-enriching.

That being said, when I found out that I had a connecting flight in Rome recently I was elated, ecstatic even. This was my chance to embrace my (half) Italian heritage. I dreamed of finally being one among my people. I envisioned being welcomed into the country of my ancestors with open arms. I longed to smell tomato sauce cooking as I was serenaded by a beautiful Italian man with well-groomed facial hair. Instead I was greeted by the smell of cigarette smoke and a group of Italian children pointing and laughing in my face. How the world ceases to bewilder me.

When I went to Rome I had 3 goals. My first goal was to get a well-deserved night’s rest. My second goal was to eat mouth-watering food. And my final goal was to see something undeniably beautiful. I hesitate as I say that only one of these goals was achieved.

When one is traveling on a tight budget corners must be cut and sacrifices must be made. Some people chose to limit what they eat, others chose to go on fewer excursions. I, however, chose to sleep in the absolute cheapest bed that I can find.  For this reason the “7 Euro Shared Room” posted on AirBnB seemed like a perfect option. What I didn’t realize was that this “shared room” was not in Rome, but in a dilapidated suburb 90 minutes away. What I also did not anticipate was the fact that my phone would die, I would be stuck without shelter for three hours in an unknown area, and there would be constant torrential downpour. I am beginning to think that I should start planning my trips a bit more thoroughly. 

After ringing dozens of doorbells, desperately searching for my AirBnB host, and being screamed at my many Italians, my friend and I finally found the apartment of our savior — Mauro, an old Italian man who greeted us wearing nothing but a bathrobe. He opened the door to his apartment and tobacco leaves were covering his kitchen table as the soundtrack from Mamma Miablasted throughout the narrow halls. He showed us to a room the size of a janitors closet with a single bed and a set of bunk beds and let us know that both would have to squeeze on the top bunk while couple would be “sleeping” on the bunk below us. It smelled weird, it was overcrowded, I could barely understand what was being said to me, and I was surrounded by chain-smokers. I was in Rome.

Luckily despite the many other downfalls that occurred, I ate some delicious pasta that night that nearly made the trip worthwhile. However just because my experience was less-than-stellar doesn’t mean that yours has to be too. Tons of people love Rome. Tons of people are also much more proficient at planning out what they want to do with their lives than I am.

We all have our weaknesses, right?