travel diary | my favourite stories + encounters in Rome
Updated: Jun 3
Amara Amaryah | travel + books + poetry, always poetry. a platform for story-telling, visuals, positive self-talk and empowerment | Rome travel diary
the blog hiatus is over. to tell the truth it is probably because of virgo season why i am back to high productivity. now that the summer of alter-ego behaviour and poetry has fizzled out, i’m back to blogging. first thing I want to share is my Rome travel diary and adventures from earlier this spring. a travel diary is the perfect way for me to share the stories we forget actually make a trip; what is travelling without stories to share afterwards?
note: those who know me understand it was a necessary and intentional break; i decided to put all my energy into writing poetry. and i’m glad i did (update soon!).
a travel diary aesthetic.
Roman adventures in May
i always try and take advantage of the bank holiday and encourage fellow travellers to aswell. when you work 9-5, bank holidays are likely your best bet for booking holidays. so hawwa and i took 5 days/4 nights to explore Roma. in this post i’m going to share some travel diary goodness. here are my favourite moments and stories from this trip.
travel diary | Roma edition
we spent the first night getting lost in Pietralata. we arrived at our hotel (no more than 20 seconds from the metro station) to breathe in Rome for the first time since travelling all day. we actually flew to Milan and caught a train to Rome so it was a really long ( but fun) day. so to backtrack, when i write that we spent the first night getting lost in Pietralata, it wasn’t the kind of ‘getting lost’ you have patience for. at the reception desk of our hotel was a smiley Martina who told us where to have dinner that night. we got dressed, even added make-up to walk around Pietralata and never actually arrive at the ‘fornari’ restaurant (which according to the guidance of google maps is somewhere within a residence block in a nearby neighbourhood). long walks in rainy outskirts doesn’t make for a good first romantic night in Roma but as i mentioned, make-up was added. so we were, completely by force, eating out that night.
and that we did. we ended up in this little corner shop pizza/kebab place which i could have never guessed would be the first place i experience italian pizza. but it was and the owner/local boss man let me have all of the black olives and didn’t act weird while i explained that i wanted a cheeseless pizza. it was actually a very funny evening and the late-night regulars in that shop were characters in themselves.
i never knew pizza could actually do this stringy thing.
rained again. turns out we booked the rainiest days of may to come to Rome. it was so uncharacteristic of the city and i couldn’t understand in full but i reckon even the Italian weather lady was a bit freaked out by it. nonetheless, adventure. after exploring Barberini the rain got too persistent so we ended up on this cobbled corner with too many restaurants to choose from. i choose the most aesthetic one (ofcourse) and we sit in for our first lunch.
this is where i meet [name i can ‘t remember but accent i love] from San Francisco. We start speaking only because he is the kind of man who has spent years perfecting his Italian and is eager to show it and i am the kind of woman who spends moments practicing with the little that i know until i sound native. i think i say something to the waiter in a way that makes my Italian sound much better than it naturally is. he turns to me and says something i can answer and then says something else that i stumble on until we relapse into English.
turns out he has been travelling around Italy for months with his wife and travels to Italy every year. he is very proud of this. i’ve never been around so many American people before Rome and it really helped me understand the extent of the Italian settling in America. main take aways from the conversation: the waiter interrupts our conversation to ask what we will drink, my friend recommends pinot grigio, i finally learn how to pronounce pinot grigio and i make a mental note to travel to Sicily (apparently the vegan food there is unmatched).
this was the sunniest day of them all and we paraded around the city to prove it. we mainly crack jokes with waiters and observe roman behavioural traits. note: i was expecting to meet racism in his full glory in Italia. i had heard so many rubbish stories from black travellers, especially about Rome. i think by day two we were paying attention to the microaggressions to figure it out. little things like how Italian cashiers practically dash your change at you had us wondering. it turns out this is how it is done in Roma (?) but yes to the strange and uncertain joys of travelling Europe while black.
on that note, very grateful to have travelled the city with Hawwa, my fire sign partner in crime and impossible Nigerian aunty. Hawwa and i have travelled to Portugal together before, but never travelled as a duo. she’s a good little travel buddy. we both like to just go with it (me a little too much) but have some kind of organised plan (Hawwa, just enough). while i pretty much will always learn some of the language and hold down navigation, Hawwa will barter HARD in any market and generally be charming and nosy and a reason to giggle. growing up i said i’d never travel Rome unless with a lover but here I was. in Rome with many a blurry picture, arguing over aesthetics, pretty much wearing what i wanted not what the weather advised and cackling at similarities between Babylons.
anyway here are some shots from first introducing my lenses to roman domain; it was all fun and games before i realised i would never (even from this point) get an in focus shot.
this is the friend we made in the market. this was the funniest encounter of them all, the kind of funny that is usually only funny when you’re there. i try anyway. our friend was originally trying to sell something but then figured we were done with our shopping and started talking to us anyway. we spoke about loads, mainly about Birmingham which he wasn’t too interested in and then i mentioned that i was born in London and spoke Spanish and he told us that he had a Spanish-speaking friend in London who he lived with for a while. the way London works, everyone usually has a friend in London but this was apparently irrelevant so our friend called his friend. right there. and handed me the phone to explain myself. it was the fact that he was so sure that this call would be fruitful while me and other friend on the phone were equal parts confused about what else to say to each other.
he wished us well and, as with all our friends, wished us safe flights home and told us to come back soon. genuine interactions will always win.
san giovanni market.
this is Ali. i’m so glad we made a final stop in Trastevere (even though we were so hungry) where we stopped in Ali’s store a few minutes before he was ready to close. first thing to know about Ali is that he has such a beautiful energy about him. he sits quietly in the corner making the jewellery by hand but still has presence. second thing is, he also loves travel and has travelled around many places and reels them off as though the length is not something to be impressed by. Cuba forms part of his list which we make him elaborate on and we find out he has spent a length of time there and loved it. he makes us promise to visit ourselves. Ali shares his experience of travelling around other countries as well as settling in Italia.
being away from home (i think home is Venezuela) and remaining proud and remaining curious about other places on earth was the main discussion that kept the store open a little longer than Ali had intended. diaspora blues to end the trip. i took a few shots of Ali in his boutique but it was too tiny for my 50mm so this is the kind of intimate photography we’re working with.
check out his instagram page here – his jewellery is as beautiful as his spirit and features all the stones of earth you could want.
and that is the end of my travel diary from Roma. we met some interesting people and got the perfect balance of tourist and local perspective which is perfect. look out for more travel posts about my trips.
ciao and thank you for reading what i write.