Due to popular demand, I will try to summarize my last two texts in Serbian. There are not too many wise things written there, so don't be afraid that you will miss something in this summary ;)
Rome is not all that dirty, as I wrote in the first text. The historic center is magical, and it simply cannot be described with words. I read that Rome is one of the rare European cities that haven't been damaged too much in the past wars, so the downtown streets remain in a typical medieval fashion and are very narrow.
Weather is great for this part of the year. It's more or less dry and very sunny, although it can get pretty cold. But when I see the snow storms in the Balkans, I guess I can't complain. The other day I went with a couple of my new Serbian friends for a cappuccino at the Piazza San Giovani, without a jacket, and wearing sunglasses :P
I also visited my school the other day. I was unbelievably lucky to find an apartment which is literally 100 meters from the school. The building where the Masters in Computer Science is held is an older (possibly 18th or 19th century) building which has been completely renovated just a few years ago, so it looks very cool with the stylish mix of old and new.
The only thing that's really frustrating for me is that I don't know the language, but I guess that's another thing that will motivate me to learn it as quick as possible.
Another very unfortunate fact is that a glass of beer in more or less every bar is 5 Euros or more. I almost fell into a deep depression when I found that out, and if the Erasmus people hadn't shown me couple of local bars at Piazza San Lorenzo, my young life would have seen its premature end :)
As the days go by I want more and more to correct my first impression of Rome. It's not that Rome all of the sudden became clean and neat, but I simply don't notice it that much anymore. I guess the sarcasm in my first text was a sort of nostalgia.
My school hasn't started yet, and I don't know when it will or anything else, since no one is giving me any info. Generally there's a feeling that professors look down on the Erasmus crowd because they look like the lucky ones who got a scholarship for 6 (or more) months of partying in a foreign country; which is true in a lot of cases (but certainly not all of them), since usually little credit is given at home for these courses abroad.
I was shocked to see everything from fridge magnets to posters of Benito Mussolini sold everywhere as souvenirs! Especially since I know how much of a hard time (justifiably) international community gives the Balkan countries for glorifying their war criminals.
Enough of the critics. Traffic is much less jammed than in Belgrade, and I applaud them for that. I guess organized traffic is not the first thing you think of when you think of Italy, but you can't get any worse than Belgrade on a working day. But let's not forget one big thing - Belgrade doesn't have a metro! I hope the incredible magic of building metros will reach the Balkans during my lifetime.
I really appreciated these two weeks of doing nothing in Rome. Uros and Natalija, my friends from Belgrade, came to visit Rome the other day so we went sightseeing together. See how neat it is to be in a city like Rome? There are always friends coming, going... so unlike my year in Kohler ;) I have three more organized visits scheduled. Maybe I should learn a couple of boring facts and start charging my tour guide services...
The other day we went to the Porta di Roma shopping mall. They say that it's the largest shopping center in Europe, but I accept this with a doubt, because it seems that every larger city in Europe claims to have something "largest"... The mall really is big; an average passage between the shops is as wide as an average two-way street in downtown Rome.
I also visited the Vatican, actually the Vatican Museums - another experience that is hard to put on paper. You simply have to see all that over-the-top luxury accumulated over the centuries by the folks who go by the name of "Bishop of Rome, Vicar of Christ, Successor of the Prince of the Apostles, Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church, Primate of Italy (?!), Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Roman Province, Sovereign of the State of the Vatican City, Servant of the Servants of God". Of course the highlight of the day is the Sistine Chapel, but I also enjoyed the huge paintings by Raphael, and the good-old porn star Borgia and his Vatican apartment. I was really sad that I don't enjoy art more since I would then spend more time trying to figure out all the hidden symbols in Michelangelo's paintings instead of complaining how my feet are sore.
After the extensive Vatican visit, we chilled a bit at the St Peter Square. Like I already mentioned, the day was perfect, clear and sunny, +15C (cca 60F). We sat there a couple of hours in our T shirts, charging the solar cells in our brains and sending positive energy to the unfortunate people of Serbia who were then under feet of snow. I left the visit to the Basilica for some other day...
Here I would like to say that my favorite street in Rome is Via Nazionale, which is traditional, but straight and wide, and has an orderly and geometrically-non-insulting row of administrative buildings, a beautiful museum, and an interesting traffic tunnel.
Almost all the streets in downtown Rome are still cobbled, which is great for the overall atmosphere, but deadly to your kidneys and the suspension of the public buses, and their ticket-machines who shake so dramatically as if they will explode any minute.
As for my social life, I hang out with two groups of people. One is the Erasmus crew and the other is the local Serbs (exchange and regular students). And while the former, poor EU citizens, drink beer at San Lorenzo where beer costs 1.60e, the latter, in accordance with their glorious tradition, drink beer at Campo de' Fiori where beer is 5e. Hm, I wonder why our economy sucks?