Maybe I am different or maybe I am the same as everybody else; I want a place where I can go and get away from everyday life, a place where everybody knows your name. While living in a Rome I had a hard time finding a group to fit into. I was 18 years old, had just moved to a new country and was feeling a bit homesick. I needed a place that was familiar, I need a place where I could escape Rome even if it was just for a night. Bennie Mangiardi found me that place. Bennie was a junior at my school when I started out and she told me to come out one night with her to a place she called The Abbey. I did not know at the time but I was about to walk into place that would change my entire future when it came to Rome. I had finally found a place I could call home in the eternal city.
Now I have tried to write this article about three times now. I got rid all of them because I had been having trouble getting the feel of the Abbey just right. It is not easy to convey why a place is so special. The Abbey Theater is an Irish pub on the corner down an alleyway in central Rome. It does not stick out, it has nothing flashy to point it out; it is just a pub on the corner. That is what first drew me to place as Bennie took me to this pub. It was off the beaten track and away from the noise and public display of drunkenness of Campo de Fiori. When I stepped inside the Abbey for the first time I felt as I had left Rome. People turned and looked at who was coming in and they all seemed to recognize Bennie and they all greeted her. Names were being yelled and inside jokes are being said as we enter the front of the main bar of the pub. The volume was upbeat in the pub as everybody seem to know everybody in the bar. English was the primary language spoken in the pub. I knew instantly that this was a place I wanted become apart of. I was hooked before I even knew what I got myself in for.
A lot of my life in Rome was spent at the Abbey after that night. I slowly became a familiar face in the bar and became friends with some of the other regulars. The place became a home to me and my friends became family. It was a place I could escape to, a place where I knew a good time was going to happen. A place that had a wake for Bennie when she moved away from Rome. A place where you can sit side by side with a Catholic priest in a Dallas Cowboy Jacket and watch a game of football and enjoy a shot and a beer. A place where Ashley and I met and got caught on camera for the whole bar to see making out in the stairway. The place where if you did not watch your drink carefully a manic bartender would steal your drink right out of your hand and say, “ oh was that yours?” as he drinks it down. A place were bets are taken seriously and if you lose you will pay dearly. I lost of full head of hair, buzzed off in the bathrooms, over a bet once. Or you may find yourself sitting next to a Irish man with red hair comfortably asleep at the bar.
Jameson flows freely as well as many other shots. Days and nights were spent at the Abbey, closing the place out after hours smoking cigarettes and gulping down a few more beers as the bartenders closes down. Then we would all leave through a side door that spits you out into alleyway as you pull your coat tighter in the winter and light up another cigarette for the late night walk home. We would all say goodbye and the usual see you tomorrow. Leaving Abbey was hard but usually well advised, as I began my walk home, back out in real life to responsibilities until I was back there tomorrow with a beer in my hand.
I always knew that no matter how bad things got I could always count on the Abbey to pick me back up. I often think of the Abbey since I left Rome and have kept in touch with some of the regulars. It is no longer apart of my everyday life but I know it will always be on that corner inviting new people in with open arms and giving them a bit of an escape from reality. Abbey Theater was a home for people displaced from their homes were we all understood what it was to be an immigrant in a new country. This is where we can go, relax and relate with other folks. The first thing that I will do when we land in Rome is head straight to the Abbey and sit at the bar and have beer and meet the new inhabitants of the pub. Abbey Theater will always be a home away from home.
This post is part of the #WeekendWanderlust and the #SundayTraveler Series. This week A Southern Gypsy has an awesome post about top things to do before 30, like sail around the world! We are so in!
Check out the #SundayTraveler hosts Chasing the Donkey who are all about Croatia! If you have ever wanted to visit they are the people to go to for advice on this beautiful country.