On any given day here in Rome, I will walk at least 15,000 steps.
To those born and raised in cities, or who attend colleges that take up entire cities themselves, this may not seem like much. But for me, someone who lives in a town where nothing is within walking distance, and goes to a small-campus university, 15,000 steps is a lot to accomplish in a twenty-four hour span. I walk to school from my apartment and back again (about a fifteen minute journey one direction), to the grocery store every other day (Italians shop for food as they consume it - the idea of buying enough food to last two weeks at a time is unknown), to the bank to withdraw cash and break large bills into smaller ones (the majority of purchases are made with cash, and take it from me, exact change is not only encouraged but expected), to my friends’ apartments, to my classes meeting in various parts of the city, to get pizza and gelato with my friends in the evenings, and on and on and on. Walking is an integral part of Roman life, so if you’re planning a trip here, bring some comfy shoes!
Walking is not the only means of local travel here however, and with one cheap transportation pass, I have unlimited access to the buses, trams, and metros all throughout Rome. As convenient as this is though, the metro only gets you so close to any one location, and there is still a good amount of walking to be done. The buses utilize more stops and get you closer to your final destination, but they run on a loose and often unreliable schedule, so sometimes it is quicker to go for a twenty-five minute walk than to wait that same amount of time for the correct bus to show up.
In such instances, the things I see when I choose to walk are enough to fill up a lifetime of stories and memories. Walking around the historic center one night after midnight granted me the experience of watching a man from Spain propose to his girlfriend amid the glowing blue lights of the Trevi Fountain, and I know that is a memory that will never leave me. The time I chose to walk to Piazza Venezia from the Colosseo Metro Station gave me an up-close view of vendors performing their myriad of talents for the tourists passing by, and instead of merely glancing at them through a bus window, I noticed the dedication and practice they devoted to perfecting their trade. In Quadraro, a quirky and colorful zone of south-eastern Rome, I witnessed an elderly man letting his dog finish the rest of his gelato, and the smile he gave to his dog was genuine and endearing. Walking the streets of this city has granted me with sight after beautiful sight, and if at all possible I highly encourage you to choose walking over waiting for a metro or bus in the future.