We’ve been in Rome a few days now. We’ve settled into Italian life and I have to say its ‘molto fantastico’! There’s just something about living ‘La Dolce Vita’ that makes me think I could make this place home, if only family and friends were with us. I have to remind myself thought that this isn’t real life, we don’t have to work or iron out an existence here (that’s waiting for our return home) its just about the fun stuff……………………….
Our apartment is in the suburbs and no one speaks English which is excellent. It’s forcing me to use and expand my language skills and get over the fear of speaking. I’m enjoying using my limited abilities and trying to connect with locals. Its almost always awkward, sometimes funny and sometimes embarrassing but people appreciate you trying to speak in their language. I think especially here because they get so many tourists and its appreciated if someone coming to their country isn’t expecting them to speak English.
I had to buck up and put my skills to use as soon as we left the airport in Dublin….’Toto, we aren’t in Kansas anymore’ ! As we boarded the plane we heard them announce we were flying to Rome, Ciampino and both Janet and I were ‘what did they say’? A lady sitting beside Janet told us there are two airports in Rome which we didn’t know, we had arranged with our landlord to pick us up at Fiumicino. ‘Merda’! We had no way to contact him. She offered to allow the use of her phone to text him a message which we did. On landing he called back trying to confirm which airport as I tired to understand his rapid Italian and explain with my limited vocabulary, he doesn’t speak any English. It was a bit chaotic at arrival but we both figured it out and met up with Enzo to take us to our Roman home. Our whole trip r has run smoothly so far and someone has always been right there when we needed them.
Our first day we headed out to conquer the Roman transit system and found our way to the city center. Thank god for the Internet which we’ve used to plot our trips and decipher the multiple lines that connect this city. ‘Multiple’ is an understatement as its thousand of connections composed of trains, trams, subways and buses but once you figure out a few routes it starts to make sense. We got off the bus at the Coliseum which seems to be the dead center of Rome and is surrounded by the Forum and its archaeological excavations. Years ago when we first visited Rome our jaws dropped to realize that all this was in downtown Rome, not on the outskirts somewhere. Rome’s downtown is an impressive collision of the ancient and the modern, sprawling and spilling out into it’s suburban areas. Everywhere you go and at every turn is a new site, something else to explore and experience. You couldn’t see it all in a lifetime here but fortunately some highlights can be seen in a few days. Leaving the coliseum we walked to the Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain and a few piazzas before heading home in the late afternoon.
Yesterday we visited the Museo Galleria di Villa Borghese to view in amazement some of the most famous works of art in the world. The Gallery has a special ‘Carravaggio’ exhibition going on as an extra bonus but for me the highlights were the Bernini sculptures that brought my previous art history lessons to life. His sculptures of ‘Apollo and Daphne’ and ‘Rape of Proserpine’ are mesmerizing. The Galleria itself is indescribable, covered in works of art from top to bottom rivaling some of whats hanging on the walls. The extent of its collection is impressive, I can’t imagine the millions or billions in value of priceless art that is housed here. At the end we headed out into the Borghese park which is just as impressive as the museum and goes for miles with its own collection of in situ artwork and fountains. We got lost trying to find an alternate bus route home and ended up stumbling upon the busy Piazza Popolo where we also found the metro. We wandered for a bit, fought of some of the immigrant vendors and headed onto the subway.
While on the subway we had an interesting cultural experience. We had just got on the train when the police came running up to the train doors yelling ‘schendi, schendi, schendi’ (you-get off). Apparently two girls under the age of 18 had pick pocketed someone but I guess without proof they couldn’t pull the girls off the train. They wouldn’t allow the train to leave though and randomly it’s irate passengers would yell the same thing and more and more began to yell ‘schendi’. Finally an angry women aggressively grabbed the girl and pushed her off the train yelling the same thing, then the other girl into the hands of the police. It was like ancient times at the forum with the crowd yelling ‘feed her to the lions‘! If anyone knows anything about Italian law I’d like to know why the police didn’t just arrest, pull them of the train or pat them down for proof.
We got home though with the aid of our map and navigated two subway lines, a tram and a bus feeling pretty proud of ourselves. Today was just a relaxation day and we are just about to head out for dinner. Here is a video I made for my Italian school friends that will show you our apartment, everyday life in Rome and some of the sites we hit. We have another week here and Saturday we move to Sienna.