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R(h)ome is where the heart is

avatar Kenza El Azami
Kenza El Azami
14 June 2022

Rome. This touristic city is so well depicted in history books and documentaries. It is a city that people unfortunately often tend to reduce to the Colosseum or the Pantheon. It is a city that I’ve unconsciously never been excited about because I didn’t want to seem or feel mainstream.

Still, as soon as I got off the train taking me from Fiumicino to Termini the first day I ever stepped foot here, everything had already changed. 

The magic was already operating.

From my first day to the end of my time in Rome, I have spent indescribable, unforgettable days. Some days were all chill and relax. I would have a walk alongside the Tiber and eat some of the best tiramisu next to one of the famous places in Rome. Most days were as exciting as it gets. I would spend Sunday mornings in the mountains of clothes at the market of Porta Portese and discovering the breathtaking views at the Pincio or Giardini del Aranci. 

At the end of each day, a hard choice was to be made between getting some well-deserved rest or going to the Yellowbar across the street to have some more fun. I can still picture the neon lights of the bar, forming letters, words, and a sentence:

“They call us dreamers, but we are the ones who never sleep”. 

I will never forget the face of the many people that have once pushed the kitchen door of the Yellow. The people that would cook pasta as if their life depended on it. The ones who would try all the pans before finding the only one that works with the induction hob. The ones making their morning caffè with the little purple moka that someone left in the kitchen when they moved on and away to live other adventures. 

For a while, I had my very own family at the hostel. 

From the French guy looking for a job in Rome to the Spanish girl learning Italian at La Sapienza University, without forgetting the Greek teenager I shared an ice cream with and the American boy that took me on a rooftop. Each and every one of them was special, each had an incredible personality and took part in the loud laughs that still echo in my head. 

I will miss Monica’s confident voice, Julio’s music and many arts, Pablo’s ever-changing dyed hair, Stella’s ice creams at the Gello, and Veronica and Eduardo’s diffusing and radiant happiness. 

And overall, I know I will miss the summer heat of the Roman sun on my skin more than I’ll ever like to admit. The freshwater harvested of fountains unexpectedly placed at the corner of the streets. The taste of all the creamy pistacchio croissants I have eaten. The feeling of the fine warm sand of Ostia on my feet.

I have created so many memories in Rome. Some will come back home with me and others will stay sheltered within the delicate architecture of the Roman buildings. 

A hand on my suitcase, the other one holding my passport, the feeling is almost indescribable. While getting lost in the Fiumicino labyrinth -as if Rome didn’t want me to go, I can hear some people ordering a freshly-pressed orange juice. Voices fade away, the further I walk into the plane corridor. When we finally take off, the last souvenir that Rome is willing to give me is the direct view of Ostia. And what a wonderful memory… 

Rome is where my heart is. Rome is the city in which I bloomed. Rome is my home.

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