This semester, I’m living in an apartment in a building owned by John Cabot University, the school where we are taking classes in Rome. Although the physical structure of the building dates to the 1600s, Gianicolo Residence just opened last semester after JCU refurbished the apartments.
My apartment is spacious. My roommates and I share two and a half bathrooms, a kitchen, and a common area. There are four bedrooms – a triple, a single, and two doubles. I’m in one of the doubles with a girl named Clare. She’s from Notre Dame, as are four of the other roommates. All in all, six of the girls in the flat are from ND and the other two go to different schools in the US.
JCU had to furnish three, five-story buildings full of student apartments, so it seems like the school went with the cheapest option available. Gianicolo is IKEA central. Everything is made of dense particleboard and thin cushions. I do not envy whoever assembled all of this furniture. Putting together hundreds of coffee tables with tiny allen wrenches seems like a great way to get carpal tunnel syndrome.
JCU did not include IKEA televisions in the apartments. I’m glad there isn’t a tv, because I don’t want to be spending my time in Italy sitting around inside, but I would have liked to experience some of the Italian shows.
Because the apartments are so large (and IKEA furniture is generally so low-to-the-ground), the rooms look rather bare even with tables and chairs. Maybe it’s because there isn’t anything on the walls to dampen the sound, but the rooms are very echoey and the walls are super thin. I can hear every footstep and chair scrape in the flat above mine, and if I listen closely, I can make out the conversation in the apartment next door.
I’ve been able to listen in on conversations upstairs, downstairs, and next door a few times because everybody keeps their windows open. I’ve got a great window in my room. On the inside, it has these interior shutters to keep the light out. Next comes the actual glass part of the window. The gold handles unlatch and the window swings open to reveal black shutters. It’s amazing to be able to throw open my shutters in the mornings and see a Roman street. My room is directly over the entrance to Gianicolo, two floors up, so I have a perfect spot to watch people come and go.
The neighborhood where I live is called Trastevere, and it’s on the western bank of the Tiber (“tra” means “across, “Tevere” means “Tiber”). It’s a really cool area to be living in because it’s very residential. People speak to me in Italian because they don’t assume that I’m a tourist. There’s a great article about Trastevere here. Yesterday, I hiked up the Gianicolo Hill. It’s not one of the Seven Hills of Rome – all of those were in Ancient Rome, which is on the eastern of the Tiber River – but the view from the Gianicolo Hill was pretty spectacular.