One of my favorite mornings in Italy was spent walking through Rome to the Jewish Quarter. The whole city is filled with such rich history and the Jewish Quarter was no different.
The Italians in this part of this city were exceptionally warm and friendly on what was a seemingly unusual chilly May day. The sky looked as if it was about to fall and the atmosphere was dark and breezy but the people were a touch of sun.
We stopped in at Bar Toto for breakfast pastries and much needed espresso to fuel up for our day’s itinerary of the Roman Forum and Colosseum. The cafe was quaint, the streets were quiet and the pigeons desperately wanted what we had to give.
I can’t describe the ricotta and chocolate pastry we all shared in a way that would do it justice. It was that good.
There was something about the quarter itself that had a touch of magic about it that the rest of the city lacked. I don’t know if it was the people, the food, the atmosphere or if I was still recovering from a pasta hangover the night before, but the Jewish Quarter was an unexpected treasure on the my Italian adventure I am glad I didn’t miss.
An area that was to be used to get us from point a to point b, turned out to be a place I didn’t want to leave. If it wasn’t for our gnawing hunger, we might have missed it entirely.
I liked that the hustle and bustle collected onto one street and everyone interacted with one another. Neighbors were actually friends. They knew each others names. They knew each others children’s names. Everyone acknowledged each other, something there is a lack of in America. No one was engrossed in their phone. The interactions went beyond neighbor to neighbor. They treated foreigners as if they were they were neighbors too.
No one was a stranger.
I wish we had that in America. At least, I don’t experience it often where I live. Growing up people conversed face to face, helped others find their way and weren’t afraid to interact. People might’ve even talked to a stranger at a coffee shop now and then.
Now more than ever the disconnect continues to grow. People strive for personal greatness through social media. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read an article about a person feeling alone in their own personal sea of 100,000 followers, the followers being something I’ve briefly longed for myself.
I felt more connected to the Rome community than I’ve ever felt connected to my hometown or on social media. It was refreshing and enlightening.
It helped me realized that I want to experience the kind of people I did on this morning, every single day. Seeing the young and old come together in community, something that seemed to not just be routine but truly enjoyable was beautiful.
A place that was meant to satisfy my hunger and slight caffeine addiction came with a big, steaming cup of realizations and cultural norms that left a deep enough mark on me to impact me still.