At this point, I wasn’t staying more than four days at a time in Fulda, Germany, the town I was studying abroad in. It was mostly an older population, no one spoke to each other, and there was nothing to do. Every weekend was a travel weekend, and the day after Thanksgiving I was going to Rome! I had been to Milan, Italy with my friends and loved the food. My friends from Russia and I had a blast. We became friends with a very sweet local guy who helped us translate and saw the sites with us.
Now, I wanted to go back to Italy, mainly for the food. I booked the trip with Ryanair for an extra long weekend, and I was off. I learned not to make plans for my trips. I just showed up and went with the flow. Traveling for food, I just couldn’t go wrong.
I got a Roma Pass right off the plane. I waited for a bus to the city center, and met a young woman that quickly became a friend. We put our stuff into our hostels, which were only around the corner from each other, then met back up. Yamila spoke Italian and was just there for the night. She was running in a race the next day in another part of Italy. She wanted to see the sites that night so we decided to do this together. We took pictures, ate a delicious dinner, and had a great night! The next day she was off to her race and I felt great knowing I made a friend.
I stayed in a room with five other girls and was up in the morning to see the Colosseum and eat! I had strict rules, ONLY ITALIAN FOOD FOR THIS TRIP!!! Only pasta, pizza, bruschetta, and gelato. I ate pizza a taglio, which is pizza by the slice. They sell it by weight and put it together like a sandwich and you’re off on your way. Just too good. And when pizza is a main dish of a country, the vegan options are endless.
After delicious fresh tomato topped bruschetta, and pasta with sauce and olive oil, I went and explored the ancient Roman ruins next to the Colosseum. The food I had been having was excellent, but I wanted a climax, an Italian cuisine event that would top no other. I overheard an English tour group with the guide saying that if you wanted to go to an authentic Italian restaurant, then there were a few rules to follow. The menu shouldn’t have pictures on it, the pasta dishes shouldn’t be over 8 euros, and everyone around you should be speaking Italian.
Later than night I went to a restaurant down the street from the hostel. Taking steps down into a sort of basement brightly lit with white concrete walls, I found it was a small restaurant, and I was the only one dining there. I was taking myself on a fine date. I ordered pizza, a whole pitcher of the house wine, and bread with olive oil. And of course pizza. I ordered marinara pizza with garlic and olive oil drizzled all over it. I had found my real Italian restaurant.
I ate it slowly, stopped to eat the think slices of bread and to drink the lovely and sweet white wine. In Italy they make the pizza thin so you eat the whole thing, giving emphasis to real flavor. A group of Italian locals came in and laughed merrily in the other corner of the restaurant. They asked if they could like a cigarette. Normally, I would be bothered, but the friendly environment and the dance on my taste buds made me smile and say sure! As I continued to drink my wine, all the wine, eat all the bread, and every last piece of pizza, I realized something. This is love.
I had planned a solo trip to Rome, put on a pretty dress, and went out to eat at a real Italian restaurant. I was feeling great from the wine, my stomach was full of amazing pizza, and the people around me were laughing and having a great time. I was overwhelmed with happiness as I realized my love for pizza, for Italy, and for travel. Since that moment, Italy stole my heart, and I will continue to go back again and again for some real Italian pizza.