“Perhaps you will hear the sound of the bells chime from St. Peter’s Basilica. Or maybe you will enjoy an espresso from a cafe overlooking Piazza Navona. Or you’ll stand on Palatine Hill, hearing the sound of children playing. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to The Eternal City. Welcome to Rome.”
Wow. Even the arrival announcement from the flight attendant was beautiful.
I arrived in Rome shortly before 8am, and disembarked the plane still somewhat shocked at what I had just done. But I quickly got excited over seeing Italian words and images of the city. I headed for the immigration line designated for non-EU residents with passport in hand, anticipating the usual inspection of each page, the once-over to match my face with the photo, and that loud, official sound as the official stamps in the proof of entry.
Instead, I got a slight wink and a wave-through.
This is huge. Non-EU citizens are only allowed to stay in the European Union for 90 days, as evidenced by your passport stamp. Without a stamp, there’s no proof of when I entered the country. Therefore, I could stay for more than 90 days, make up an entry date if asked, and no one would know the difference. Now my only reason to leave after three months would be lack of finances. What an unexpected scenario.
I opted for a shared shuttle van instead of a taxi, which is half the price and a good deal. It was rush hour and traffic was crazy; I think I heard the driver say “traffico bestiale” into his cell phone. But the sun was shining and we received an excellent tour around many of the sights. I felt myself get a little choked up as the Colosseum came into view, the site of the 2013 Rome Marathon start and finish line. Running that race is an experience I’ll never forget.
I could go over other details, but the most important thing that happened today was dinner, or cena. Prosciutto and fresh mozzarella drizzled in olive oil, a light red wine, cacio e pepe (my favorite Roman pasta dish), followed by roasted fish and potatoes. Torta di mele and a light limoncello rounded out the meal.