I was traveling through Philadelphia International Airport with my life in my bags, ready to move myself entirely to the place that’s always had my heart and soul. Italy’s “Eternal City”, Rome, flooded me with love and memories before I could even step foot on the plane. I recalled some of the world’s most amazing wonders, from the Trevi Fountain to the Vittoriano (“Wedding Cake” building) to every delicious aroma. Rome has sights and smells for all. Little did I know how this trip would impact me differently and how these massive, infamous monuments would be shadowed by the people I would meet and the I places I would travel “off the beaten path.”

My arrival brought me to my beloved 18th century apartment building in the heart of Rome, Trastevere. I was blessed enough to send my bags up the elevator, instead of lugging them myself – and suddenly felt the luxury of truly living like a Roman. That new outlook as a resident set me into motion. I was destined now to explore and find the most amazing spots that tourists, much like me in the past, would overlook and miss. My very first evening in Rome inspired the beginning of my adventuring. It was absolutely stunning for a January day, unlike the snowy and cold ridden East Coast I left behind. Leaving my apartment, I ventured out for a hike wherein I pushed through both jet lag and inclines. The land rose ahead of me and the Roma Centro (the center of tourism) faded away behind me as I walked up a rugged brick path. Each step revealed mosaics of the Catholic Stations of the Cross. Once I rounded a corner by a 9th century Church perched at the top of the stairs, the beautiful sounds of flowing water greeted and warmly welcomed me. I had arrived at one of my soon-to-be favorite spots to get away from stress and chaos, La Fontana dell’Acqua Paola. While this amazing ancient Roman site alone was breathtaking, I turned 180? to find panoramic views of the entire city of Rome with the Italian Alps breaking through the horizon. Having been so uplifted, I continued up the hill, knowing there must be more in store for me.

Statues lined the cobblestone street as 15th century villas towered in the hills surrounding. A few steps off the beaten path, yet again, rewarded me with the most awe-striking view yet – Gianciolo Terraza, or Janiculum Hill. From this hidden roost in Rome, the whole world is as far as the eye can see. I could spot any and all monuments dotting the landscape as my heart thudded with excitement. Surely, this spot has to be the height of my exhilaration, but no. How could I have doubted that Rome would have more in store, as mere steps away from where I had been gazing from (stricken in awe for several minutes), St. Peter’s Basilica smacked me in the face as I was leaving the piazza. I had no idea that the Vatican bordered the rear side of Gianicolo Hill and there laid a grandeur vista of each and every nook that the Catholic city hosts.

Speechless, my heart stopped, hit by the new life waiting for me. If this was what Roman life had in store for me, I could gladly get used to it … and I did!