It was 8pm when I arrived at Fiumicino Airport in Rome. As we flew in over the ranges, and the villages, I was so happy. So happy that there are no words to describe the excitement that was surging through me. I smiled through the entire landing and taxiing. I can still feel that feeling now…5 years on.
The first thing I had to do was take a sky-bridge train from the gates to the main terminal. I had no idea I was supposed to do this so I was kind of just staring at it like…what? This is where you arrive on an international flight (outside of Europe) and it is connected to the airport by a sky-bridge. You have to first take the sky-bridge to the main terminal where you go through customs and pick up your bags.
When I got to customs, customs officers opened a special lane for AU/NZ passport holders. YAY! That made the huge line much smaller! I went straight to baggage claim and then I was outside of the airport…
I kind of had to take it in for a second before I remembered what I was doing. Because it was my first time ever out of my comfort zone I thought a taxi may have been the safest bet for me to actually get where I needed to go. I found a taxi right outside the terminal and got them to drop me off at Termini Train Station. It cost me around 50€. Whilst I was in the taxi I decided to call mum to let her know that I arrived, not remembering about the time difference. Apparently in was 4:30am when I rang her – haha sorry mum.
This was a really interesting experience and by the time I figured out what counter I needed to go to it was 9:30pm. I had some instructions from the course coordinator which told me how to find the right train but I decided it best to just ask the lady at the ticket counter. Thankfully she spoke English and could tell me what I needed to do.
I had to look at the departure board for my train and find the platform number, which was one, and then I had to punch my ticket to validate it before hopping on the train. This is done in a yellow box located on all platforms in Italy. Apparently if you don’t do this then you can get hit with a hefty fine.
By the time I had done this, and found a seat on the right train, I was so tired. I accidentally fell asleep for a little on the train until the conductor woke me up to check my ticket. Luckily he did this because the stations were not getting announced so I had to keep a keen eye on where I was.
I finally made it to Terni Station at around 10:45pm. This is when the exhaustion and sheer anxiety I had built up inside decided to come flying out. I went outside to look for a taxi and there were none. I didn’t have any cash and couldn’t find an ATM. I couldn’t get the phone booth to work, and my phone battery had died ages before. I still had about a 10minutes drive outside of Terni before I got to where I needed to be and I had no idea if anyone would be awake, or where I would go. So I did what any young person who was alone in a foreign country for the first time ever would do, I went to the toilets and cried. Oh yes. Full blown waterworks. I’m pretty sure I looked like a not so hot mess. I finally pulled myself together after wallowing in my self pity and walked back out the front of the train station..low and behold a taxi was there! He showed me where the ATM was and I got some cash out before heading on my way to San Gemini.
I got taken to Piazza San Francesco where I was told to meet up with the coordinators, however, by the time I arrived here it was after 11pm. I was expecting to have to sleep in the square for the night. Just as the taxi drove off and left me standing in the middle of town, a door to a restaurant nearby opened and all these Americans started pouring out. It was my group. Seriously the absolute luckiest thing. They wonderful Polly got me some sandwiches made while a few of the girls helped me carry my luggage up the windy cobblestone street to my residence. My home for the next 4 weeks. I was finally there. I could finally sleep!
And this is what I woke up to…
You may also be interested in A Walk Through San Gemini…