Saturday, June 30, 2012

I am doing this all in the wrong order.  I should be telling you about blue blue seas and the brine of sweat and olives; about the ride we hitched with an old man, his grandson, and many water bottles; about the trance chanting.  That was Greece, and I will tell you about it soon.  For now, Italy.

A friend of mine who lives in Rome warned me I would fall in love.  At the very least, I have a little crush.  Rome, you are my type -- gritty and full of heart.  When I walk the streets I am assaulted with the smells of spring, flowers blossoming, pollen ripe; and then, the smell of hot pavement, urine.

My heart opens and closes like the rising and falling chest that contains it.  I see women in head scarves kneeling, hands in prayer position, on the streets.  A boy with quiet eyes wanders the metro with his accordion.  He plays what sounds like 'Get On the Floor' by J-Lo.  I don't give him anything.  Men whistle low and slow as I walk to my hostel in the night.  Ruins are everywhere, sun bursting through the Colosseum.  An Indian man selling a laser light flashes the neon green on the Pantheon.  

I threw a coin into the fountain.  I sat on the Spanish steps.  I have seen far more seagulls than pigeons.  Mountains on gelato dripping down cones.  I paid too much (45 euro too much) to listen to the crackle of our tour guide through my earpiece and shuffle slowly with millions of other sweaty people in the Vatican.  It was the only 'site' I paid for.  I don't like tours.  I don't spend 45 euro on anything, except maybe train tickets.  What was I thinking?

This was a terrible idea.  You can see that now, can't you?  I nearly had a nervous breakdown.  To be fair, most of my life experiences almost result in nervous breakdowns, but this was up there with the skiing incident.

It was worse than Disneyland.  You couldn't enjoy anything.  And, if I am being honest, I can only look at so many naked angel statues and exuberant Jesues, so much God and gold.

In the Sistine Chapel, shoulders and knees are supposed to be covered, people are supposed to be quiet, and no one is supposed to take photos.  It was buzzing with chatter and the quick glare of camera flashes.  I walked through quickly, searching for the exit sign.  Exiting the Vatican was an event in and of itself.  Being outside felt like a breath of fresh air, even if it was 38 celcius.

On the plus side, I now have many creepy, religious, and geometrical photos to show you.

For some travel advice, if the line is several hours long to get into the Vatican museum and Sistine Chapel, the line is not what you should worry about.  It is the amount of people that will be inside.  I would seriously reconsider visiting if it is so busy.  It is not a pleasant experience.

Buy a fan from the guys who keep flapping fans in your face.  It feels like harassment, but they are onto something.

Also, the prime time to visit Trevi Fountain?  After a winning soccer match.  Drunken jubilation and street brawls mean the Police shut down parts of the city.

The city was drunk on futbol.  I watched the game from the bridge to Trastevere (the beyond) and Italy was fierce.  Italy won against Germany, and the city went wild.  I ate pasta at an outside cafe as taxis and motos coughed by, the horns incessant; boys arm in arm bouncing sloppily down the street.  The waiter, who stood by the special sign, did not look amused.

The party continued.  There was dancing on buses, flags waved and worn as capes.  Traffic was blocked.  Soccer balls were kicked high from the crowd.  Music blared.  I got a little high off it, so much passion.  I can't wait for Sunday.  If Italy wins, I predict an earthquake.

I made a wish at Trevi Fountain along with a million other people.

As usual, old men are very eager to help me with things (like directions, or buying bus tickets), and just as eager to ask me out for coffee afterwards.

As usual, I have had some misadventures.  I won't get into details, but I have gained a deeper understanding of my own strength.

Rome, I love you dearly and all, but I'm off for a smaller town tomorrow.  Ciao bella.


  1. Hey Jess, I love this post!!! It is so full of everything I am there with you: )
    Wish I really was there with you, but hey, at least I get to read about it!!!!

    1. Thanks! I am happy to take you along for the journey. In the meantime have been living vicariously through your bunnies and baked goods. ;)