When most people think of Rome, they think of the eternal city. However, whenever I will think of Rome in the future, one word will always come to mind: Victoria.
Liana and I had booked an apartment in Vatican City for our week in Rome. But when we got there, the landlord Victoria told us that she still needed time to prepare our room. She told us we could leave our stuff in her car (which we stupidly did!) and could come back that evening around 7. So while we were waiting to get into the room we met up with Liana’s college roommate Kyu, who had come to join us for part of our trip. We all went to Old Bridge gelato—which is in my opinion, is the best gelato shop in all of Italy—and explored the Borghese Gardens.
We returned to the apartment that evening, exhausted and ready to relax. Victoria told us we could go get our bags, so we followed her down to her car. But our bags were not in there. “Um. Where are our bags??”, both Liana and I exclaimed.
“Oh, I put them at the other rental. No worry. No worry. Come with me we go get them”, Victoria assured us in her broken English. So we got in the car with her and drove further and further away from the apartment. Fifteen minutes later we had arrived in the suburbs of Vatican City in this residential home. “This good right? You be happy here?” Victoria asked, a proud smile on her face.
“ummm NO,” the three of us immediately exclaimed.
“But there is no room at the other apartment. So I give you this nice house for same price ya?”
By this point the three of us were so exhausted we were not in the mood to argue any longer. So we decided to settle for it. But when we asked for the keys, Victoria told us that the spare key didn’t work with these doors and we would have to wait until the following day. The next day we got the new keys, but Victoria gave us the wrong set, which we discovered the next evening when we couldn’t open the front gate. We ended up having to climb over the fence in our going-out clothes to get in that night.
The next morning Kyu, Liana, and I were laying on our bed planning the next stop on our trip, when all of a sudden a little girl opened our bedroom door. Turns out, Victoria had brought another family to drop their bags off at the house early and get a sneak peak before we had checked out! So we confronted Victoria about all of these inconveniences and after a much heated debate we had left the house and all the drama that came with it.
While the drama of Victoria took up most of our time in Rome, we were able to have some really amazing and unique opportunities. Liana and I got the chance to get a tour inside the Vatican, where we came within inches of Pope Francis! We also got the chance to meet some people who work within the Vatican walls and learn about the politics and beliefs of some of the most important people in the Catholic Church.
And I can’t forget the food! Oh my goodness. My diet while in Italy consisted of the 3 P’s: pasta, pizza, and panini sandwiches. With, of course, a cup of nutella and raspberry gelato to cleanse my pallet after each meal. I do not think I have ever been more spoiled during my week in Rome when it comes to Italian cuisine. Sadly, I don’t think I will ever be able to enjoy a plate of spaghetti unless it is in this beautiful city.
It was quite the adventure in Rome, but as Kyu, Liana, and I learned the hard way, we would not escape the Italian drama until crossing the border to France. We had been traveling with inter-rail passes, so we only had to make seat reservations on the trains. We attempted to do this online, and the website ended up upgrading us to first class, which was okay by our standards, and the first two conductors who checked our tickets. But unfortunately, the third conductor who checked our tickets decided to go on a power trip and freak out on us. He grabbed our inter-rail passes while screaming at us in Italian that we hadn’t paid enough money for our seats and then walked away with our passes in hand. In a panic to get the passes back so we could catch our connecting train, we ran after him. When we tried to explain that we had already paid online, he turned to us and yelled “I am the commander of this train! Do not tell me what to do!”
Liana and I instantly burst into tears while Kyu tried to continue to reason with him. Lucky for us, we had caused enough of a scene that another passenger onboard came to our rescue. She spoke fluent English and Italian and was able to reason with the conductor. He ended up giving us our inter-rail passes back and gave us a smile, which was apparently his attempt at an apology for making us cry. So with tears still in our eyes, we ran to catch our final train that would take us to Nice, France for a nice couple days of beach relaxation.