I felt in touch with the Italian importance of family as I stood outside of my apartment complex chatting with my sister for upwards of an hour - attempting to extend our short time together. She had been visiting for three days when an unfortunate bout of food poisoning interfered. After a trip to Freni e Frenzione for apertivo (still a great place...but maybe only for drinks now), me, my roommate and my sisters two friends were left with a situation. Though I've had run ins with unpleasant stomach flus and food poisoning before, this seemed especially traumatic. With only a limited time in Rome and with my sister, I was at a loss.
However, I was not going to let some uncontrollable event control my trip. Instead of whining and moping around, I tried to experience a different side of Rome. One where food or traveling distances to see the city was not the highlight of the day. I attempted to see Rome in the perspective of someone who had lived there for years.
Before, I spent my days soaking in everything around Trastevere and surrounding areas. With food poisoning - that wasn't exactly doable. My days were instead spent appreciating my apartment. This may sound silly - but it's the truth. I now realize how much I enjoy the little kids yelling and giggling with each other after school in the middle of the apartment complex day after day. The balcony where I've seen some of my ultimate favorite sunsets holds more meaning to me than it originally did. The shower which isn't always a reliable source of warmth has charm. There isn't anything I can criticize in terms of my apartment; because even if I was stuck in my apartment - I was stuck in my apartment in an incredible city. The fact that I was even in Rome seemed to simply be enough.
And now - after hugging my sister for the final time until Christmas- the apartment complex door has new meaning. The little things can be enjoyable and truly culminate the real feeling of living in a foreign city for a period of time. An unfortunate experience like food poisoning taught me to stop constant exploration- if only for a little - in order to see life from a new perspective.
As quick as events can turn sour though, they can also turn very sweet very quickly. I'm now returning from a weekend spent in Tuscany where I have again seen a new side of Italy. When I was young, I went to Florence and Cortona with my family. Returning to Florence and the Tuscan sun was an entirely new experience from when I was last here. In Florence, the Uffizi Gallery intrigued me rather than made me crave another helping of gelato (as it had when I was ten). Obviously, a vineyard was not in my top five places to be when I was in Tuscany last. But now, I can appreciate the art of wine tasting and the incredible food and views it has to offer. As strange as it may be, an inconvenience such as food poisoning aided in my further appreciation for Rome.
By Maura Bayagich