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I spent my last week in Rome, back where it had all begun. A friend with a car drove me to the beach at Ostia three times – an experience I’d so far avoided over the year, having been told that the water is dirty and the beach crowded. So I was surprised to find a lovely wide beach, with ample space to plant our umbrella with an undisturbed view of the sea.

The water isn’t very clear by Italian standards, but I’d put this down to the black grain in the sand. Anyway, they test the water regularly so you’ll hear if it’s not clean. It’s the most popular beach, being nearest to the city centre. And you can get there by a short train from Stazione Ostiense, and then a bus (all transport included on your monthly ticket). The beach goes on for miles, but I’d recommend stopping off at Cancello 8.

My year abroad has felt very circular. There is a weird fate thing in Rome where you are destined to see everyone you have ever met twice. And so I had several chance encounters in my last week with people I hadn’t seen since September. And it felt right to spend my last night in Rome with Rocco, the first Italian friend I made upon arrival. We were invited to a production of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar at Rome’s version of the Globe, in the Villa Borghese park (another signal it was time to return to the UK). It wasn’t a spectacular performance but there was a marvellous atmosphere. Although three hours sitting on a pillow in the cheap standing area resulted in a dead leg!

I avoided any dramatic goodbyes or deep philosophical thinking about ‘moving on’, cause it’s not really my style. And anyway, I know I’ll be back before long…perhaps for New Year.

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