Like some of the best things in life, Rome was a slow burn*.
When I arrived I was apprehensive. Unlike the quaint, charming, and otherworldly hold that Lisbon had, Rome felt a lot more like a real world city. With trains and traffic, corner stores and cops. Oh and did I mention the hoards of tourists? I'm talking tour group after tour group, lines everywhere, all of us sweating it out together in 90 degree heat and relentless sun.
That was my introduction to Rome, and in all honestly she didn't make the greatest first impression. But neither did I. Grumpy, sweaty, and tired after a rough night in the hostel, fighting through crowds of people to look at Roman ruins that I really didn't care that much I about-- it wasn't a good look.
And then. Then I ate the sandwich that changed my life. It came from a little grocery store down a cobbled back street, where an old Italian lady was buying her laundry detergent and a bag of oranges. I ate it sitting on a staircase in a tiny park across the street. It was heavenly. Prosciutto, creamy ricotta, sweet tiny tomatoes, fresh arugula, just a drizzle of salty, smooth olive oil, all on the perfectly chewy bread. It was that sandwich alone that changed my mind about this city.
In my post-sandwich glow, I breezed through the rest of my time here. A delightful dinner, a late night walk through the city, a random 40 minute chat with a middle aged Italian dude in a cafe, watching the sun go down in the Piazza Navona, even fighting the crowds to be dazzled by the artwork at the Vatican felt worth it. I continued to eat well, I survived the heat, even the hostel grew on me.
So I know I will leave Rome tomorrow happy with my time here. And I know I will be back someday.
*If I haven't yet explained this life theory to you, ask me when I'm back. Oh, and if you are wondering-- no I do not have a picture of the sandwich. I ate it very quickly.