This morning I awoke knowing that I needed to go to the United States Embassy in Rome, first thing, to get my new passport since my other passport had been lost. I planned to get up at 7 and out the door by 9, but I ended up getting up at 8 and out the door and on the metro around 10am.
I arrived at the embassy after taking an Uber halfway up a long and tall hill. To enter the embassy, I first had to go past the military guard at the front gate. I was required to empty myself of all electronic and metal devices, including my cell phone, digital watch, and charger cables, etc. They put my things in a bag with a valet tag number (this is also the reason why I, unfortunately, do not have any photos of my visit inside the embassy to share). I went in the big security door, and was directed to go upstairs for American Citizen Services. I walked upstairs and took a number (004) and talked to the guy at the window after I looked very spazzed and confused about what I needed to do next. Because I realized that I needed 5 Euro to take a passport photo at the photo booth at the bottom of the stairs, but it would not make change, and would not accept my 20 Euro bill. It DID accept credit card …but the credit cards were in my cell phone wallet case — which was currently with the security guard. So the guy gave me instruction to fill out a passport report on a computer, then explain to the guard that I need to just get my credit card and license from the phone.
After I filled it out, he printed it in his office and had me sign and initial it. Then I had to go and get my credit cards and license from my phone, then I took a photo with photo booth (for a horrible photo result) and went back upstairs to cash out. As it turns out, the cashier had just gone on break and was gone for 15 minutes. When she came back, I must’ve missed my call number, because then I saw 005 called to that window.
There was a woman that sat next to me whom I had seen downstairs waiting for a visa, who I had approached asking if she had a 5e bill that I would give her my 20 bill for (but she didn’t), in order to use the photo booth. As it turns out, she speaks Spanish so we started having a conversation. She had been waiting downstairs for 3 hours and no one had talked to her or helped her. I took her concern to the window of the guy that had helped me, and we were able to help her out. It was good to be able to use Spanish to help someone in this way.
I waited another 20 minutes (or more) until they called me up for an interview to ask a few questions about my lost passport. After this, I waited about another 20-30 minutes for them to print my temporary passport (good for one year). After all this, it was around noon, so after those 2-3 hours I was very hungry, so I asked the security guards outside for recommendation for lunch, they pointed me in the direction of Sardegna. I ordered a salad and a plate of basic pasta, and it was all very good.
After lunch, I called another artist to see if she wanted to meet up for the afternoon, but she was still exploring the Vatican so we’d get dinner later instead. So I made my way to the Roman Forum, as I had heard good things about that, but didn’t have time enough to see it the same day I went to the Colosseum. On my way there, I stopped at a “tea house and wine bar” and got a seat outside at one of the bistro tables and asked for tea while I waited my phone to charge. As it turns out, the “tea house” was just an assortment tea bags in a wooden box, not an actual tea menu (I’m not usually this much of a tea snob, but I was looking forward to it).
At the Roman Forum, I found it to be really cool to see all the old ruins of buildings, residences, temples and more from the height of the ancient Roman empire, just from walking along the adjacent street’s sidewalk. The admissions guard noticed that I accidentally tried to put a metro card in the ticket machine on my way in, instead of my Roma pass, but we got it all figured out eventually.
When I walked through the ruins up close, I imagined that I could have just been walking as an average Roman citizen on her way to the agora, or to visit family in one of the buildings that’s now just crumbling stone. There were lots of columns and a few frescoes inside one of the chapels that was later converted to a church.
In one of the ruins, it looked like there was some sort of tomb. What I found most interesting is that people had thrown flowers and coins on the tomb. I thought that most ancient Romans would be so long gone that their tombs would be considered museum items along with the ruins, not an active gravesite to place flowers and coins in honor of the dead. I wonder who these people are who place these here. [Edit: this is the site of the temple where Julius Caesar was cremated; but still no explicit reason why people leave flowers and coins and notes]
After the cafe I met up with Tammy again for dinner. We went to a resaurant called Dell, with a very old-Hollywood theme throughout the atmosphere. As soon as we sat down, the boistrous table of laughing people introduced ourselves to them, fellow Americans, from Jacksonville. We exchanged experiences and impressions of Italy, sharing places to see and things to do. They were very friendly and it was nice to be amongst those that speak our language, even if we were the loudest ones in the restaurant that evening. For dinner I got some sweet potato ravioli, and my friend got a seafood dish.
After we finished up dinner and parted ways with our new-found Jacksonville friends, Tammy and I walked through some of the streets and shops around the Spanish Steps neighborhood, and eventually I saw a sign (and it opened up my mind) for Barrington’s Tea Rooms Since 1893. I had been looking to stumble upon an authentic tea room, and here it was, so I dragged her along with me to get some tea.
This was definitely an authentic tea room, with such a cozy and inviting ambiance, with pillows lining the seats, and a very extensive menu with 4 pages of tea choices. I tried a local blend and Tammy got coffee, then we shared some pastry featured as a special that day, while we debriefed about the day and our experiences so far. On our exit, I purchased some loose leaf tea to bring back to my tea collection at home.