I'd just like to start out by saying that almost nothing went as planned on my birthday. Not a problem, though, because in Rome, I get some of my best adventures from the rubble of destroyed plans.
My birthday celebration began on Friday night. I had a few hours of being a teenager left, so my friend Abby and I decided to tag along with Reanna and Amar to go listen to an Italian band play American cover songs. Great idea, in theory. Problems tend to arise, though, when all we knew was that the bar was called the Factory and that it was in Rome...not very specific. We never did find the bar, so we decided to wander instead.
And wander we did! After walking by the Castel San Angelo, we wound up at the Pantheon. I knew a little pizza stand near the Pantheon called Pizza Zaza’s (which is insanely delicious and super cheap!) and since we were starving, we decided to grab some dinner. Yum!
We wandered around for a bit after that. Learned that you can get from the Pantheon to Via del Corso, which is basically the Italian version of 5th Ave, relatively easily. We strolled down Via del Corso and wandered into a beautiful little church. Only in Europe, I guess.
It was pretty cold that night and I was getting ready to head back to campus. However, we had passed a little bar earlier and Abby became mildly obsessed with getting me a birthday shot at midnight. Since we still had some time to kill before midnight, and because I was freezing, we went into this huge candy and gelato shop. Everyone got gelato, while I enjoyed the most expensive hot chocolate I had ever purchased. Came with a plate of cookies, though, and that was pretty delicious.
Finally, it was close enough to midnight that we headed to this little bar called Habanas. Little local place where almost no English was spoken and I was the only blond for miles. It’s amazing how fast bars change in Italy. When we walked in, it was almost empty, with all the lights on. Not much fun. A band was setting up, though, so we decided to stick around. 20 minutes later, the bar was packed, they put on some funky lights, and the band started to play.
Now, my friends told the waitress it was my birthday, asking her to bring us all shots of Jack Daniels at exactly midnight. What I didn't know is that she then went and told the band it was my birthday. At midnight, the waitress brought our shots, while the band made a big announcement that it was my birthday. They asked if I spoke English and I responded that "Parlo inglese, ma parlo italiano un po'" which translates to "I speak English, but I speak a little Italian".
Now, it's good to keep in mind that Italians absolutely love it when I speak Italian. I'm not entirely sure why, but whenever I do, there is an instant change from "I have to deal with a stupid American" to "Oh! You speak Italian so well! And you are so adorable! Che bella!". Well, same thing happened here. The band laughed and dedicated their next song to me, singing "Wish you were here" by Pink Floyd. It was pretty cool. Plus, at midnight, they all sang happy birthday to me in Italian.
For the rest of the night, whenever the band played an English song, they would dedicate it to me. The guitarist kept pointing at me too during every song. While the attention was nice, it definitely attracted a lot of creepers later that night. Eventually, the bar became a club, with a DJ replacing the band. Also fun, except for 2 problems. 1) the majority of the people there were an older crowd (late 20's, 30's even 40's). 2) Italian men are incapable of taking a hint and are very grabby.
The guys basically circled us like sharks and, thanks to all of the dedications from the band, I was the prime target. It got to a point where I left to get some air outside with my friend. While leaving, one guy clothes-lined me, wrapped me in a headlock and tried to kiss me. Meaning to block him, I wound up elbowing him in the face. Despite this, he STILL followed me outside! So keep that in mind, ladies. Italian men can get elbowed right in the face and still come back for more!
Not all the guys that night were creepy though. At least, not at first. One guy, who I thought looked only a bit older than me, was pretty nice. He was walking around in a Mario sweat shirt and bought me a drink. Didn't try to hit on me. Just brought over a drink, smiled, then walked away. I later started talking to him, found out he was a DJ and that his name was Nello. I then did a very stupid thing. I gave him my number.
Word to the wise. Never, EVER giver your number. EVER!!! By the next morning, he had called me twice and texted me a lot. I finally picked up while I was out shopping on Via del Corso with Abby and Reanna. I guess the language barrier is increased 95% when talking on the phone because when I mentioned we were going to the Trevie fountain later, Nello took that to mean I would meet him there in 20 minutes. After a lot of confusion, I would up meeting him at the Spanish Steps.
Now, before your lectures begin, remember this: I was in a group, I was in a highly populated area with many tourists, and it was the middle of the day. It was stupid, but it could have been worse. He did lead us to the Trevie Fountain and I made my birthday wish, which was pretty great! What wasn't great is that Nello was very...affectionate. Even after I made it very clear that the advances were not welcome. I finally asked him how old he was too. He wouldn't answer at first, then finally admitted he was 31. EEWWWWW!!! The creepiest part was that he knew I was only 20. He also picked me up and one point, calling me his Bambina. Oh sweetie, I cannot begin to tell you how much I am NOT your bambina!
So, I was a bit shaken up from that whole experience. Deleted his number and he eventually stopped calling. Learned a lesson with limited consequences.
Later that night, we originally had planned on going out on my actual birthday, but instead, we got a bottle of wine, put on some sweat pants, and watched a movie. A pretty good night in my opinion.
So there you go! My birthday in Rome! Sorry for the delay.
Coming soon: My adventures in Verona, Florence, and Venice!