Lost in Rome

Rome looks different after dark….at least to the traveler

A delightful ending to a perfect evening in Rome was not meant to be.

I would never have guessed that I would be lost, wandering those early morning streets that I thought I knew so well.

The evening had begun with lots of merrymaking surrounded by friends at a popular pizzeria in Trastevere. Night time was in full swing, and the winding cobbled streets were alive with activity. Street bands played in nooks along the way while outdoor tables filled to the brim with locals and tourists enjoying the warm summer atmosphere in Rome’s most sought after nightlife destination. Trastevere, that former “seedy, wrong side of the river” place that draws one back time and again.

After dinner, we made our way through the throngs of people littering the narrow streets, checking vendor’s tables and enjoying the atmosphere. It was getting late, so we made our plans to meet up in the morning before going our separate ways. I was given a map to find my way back on foot to my hotel. It seemed simple enough. I just needed to follow the Tiber River northward until I reached Castel Sant’Angelo, then turn westward down a street. There in lied the problem. No one could remember the name of the street. I was staying at the “new” Castel Sant’Angelo Inn which was only half a mile from Castel Sant’Angelo itself. I assured my friends that I would recognize the place when I saw it.

Here is my map. If you look at the bottom you can see a circle where I left my friends. I walked up along the Tiber River northward until I reached Castel Sant’Angelo. Then I turned left toward the red patch on the map covering a number of streets. My hotel is there….somewhere.

Oh what a night! I followed the Tiber up to Castel Sant’Angelo and found the first street heading westward. I stopped to examine the map again, noticing the huge patch of advertisement stamped over the names of the three possible streets. Since I didn’t have a name, what did it matter. I can find this place.

I started down the street a ways and turned northward after what I assumed was about a half mile. If my hotel was not here, it must be on the next street. And so it went until everything looked the same to me. I was convinced that I would recognize my hotel, but I could not find it. I kept admonishing myself that it was only a half mile away, that it had to be very close to me….but where?

I texted my friend for help and she said she would find the name of the street and text it back to me. I had opted for the no data plan for overseas phone options, so I could not look my hotel up. While I waited, I asked several locals, pub owners and couples out for a late night stroll, for help. They looked at the map and shook their heads when I mentioned the Castel Sant’Angelo Inn. Since it was a new hotel in an old-established building, they had not yet heard of it. My heart was sinking.

Before long I got a text with the correct street name. A flood of relief. I gave the address to a pub owner who took me outside and gave me directions consisting of turn this way and then that, etc. I followed what I thought he said but got lost again. Finally, after countless inquiries and attempts, I found a taxi parked on the side of the road. With unmasked desperation, I gave him the street address. He gave me directions about turn this way and that. I told him I would pay him to take me there. He said no, I could find it, then gave me a “move along now” motion with his hand.

I turned on my heel and quickly acted on his directions, forcing my mind to stay relaxed. To my great delight, I found it. Key in hand, I was inside the hotel in a flash and made a beeline straight to my room. I gazed at my alarm clock on the nightstand. It was two thirty in the morning.

As I lay in bed trying to get a few hours sleep before meeting up with my friends, I thought about my wanderings. Although I was frustrated, I never felt that I was in danger. People tried to be helpful but with such little information it was impossible. I was sure I would recognize my hotel, but I learned that after dark everything looks quite different and how very easy it is to get turned around. Needless to say, we all had a good laugh together later that morning after everyone got over the initial shock that I had actually “got lost.” So, from now on I will always have my own detailed map with me. I’ll just mark this one down to experience.