Garbatella: Home to Me

Haley Winkle Arcadia in Rome, Italy


December 3, 2017

I don’t take many trips outside of Rome for a few reasons: I like to get to know my host city, I can’t afford to take trips every weekend, and I enjoy the moments of rest and quiet between busy weeks. On the offhand that I do take a side trip, coming home to Rome gives me a sense of sweet familiarity. At this point, two weeks away from my departure, very few things feel new to me anymore – which I think is appropriate.

This evening, I returned to Rome from a trip in Nice, France. I usually turn left as I exit the metro station of my neighborhood, but today I turned right just in case the tabacchi on that street was open to renew my metro pass (they were closed). I continued walking, wondering what I could make for dinner tonight that would be quick, considering getting pizza al taglio or stopping at my grocery store to pick up ingredients for something unbeknownst to me at that point. Italians live at a slow pace, and at times I feel this attitude taking over parts of me. I strolled past the strangers and wondered if the man who often stands at the entrance to the grocery store and says a warm hello to anyone who walks by would be there (he wasn’t).

There was one new-ish thing on this stroll I take at least twice each day: a small artisan market. At the grocery store’s parking garage, I always see the sign advertising the “mercatino artigianato” which takes place the first sunday of every month. Before this evening, I had never actually seen it in progress, just the sign. I dropped my luggage off at home and then turned around to go get groceries and a gander at the market.

Approximately twenty tables were set up around the large garage, which made the market even smaller than what I was anticipating. There were tables of handmade jewelry, vintage clothing, jams, and nativity scene elements. I did a round and then left without buying anything, but I was pleased to have seen this little aspect of Garbatella.

I’m thinking back to September, when I was much newer to the area. One day I was on my walk home from school and saw a lot of students from my program sitting in the patio of a local cafe, which was celebrating its reopening. One of my roommates took me inside to the free aperitivo spread, introducing me to the owners. They were happy to meet me and insisted I take some food – this felt like my welcome to the neighborhood at the time.

I feel comfortable in Garbatella, and I like to think that the neighborhood likes me too.


Italy Semester