I had a fantastic day today but the formula remains incredibly simple: Mid 20s sunshine, a mixture of on-foot and bus transportation, some tunes, a positive mental attitude and a plan. Oh...and being wined and dined for by two Italian ladies...
Uncle Andrea - you underestimated me in your last comment by stating singular, not plural :-)
With regards a plan, thanks to a comment from a cousin I didn't need to put too much thought into this as she kindly gave me some tips of what to see and where to go having recently been there for her honeymoon. Well, I didn't disappoint and neither did she - it certainly was beautiful down over Trastevere way which basically means past the Tevere river. Many years ago Rome was only developed up to the river and so at a later date, that side of Rome of was built. I guess when theu figured out how to start transporting materials in mass 'across the pond'...?
On route, I managed to listen to my own advice and I paid 9 euros for a lunch and I did this much less begrudgingly than I would have 24 hours before! Those closest to me will be amused to know that despite the above, somehow I still managed to get my money's worth. Yes, I found a cold buffet of Italian meats, pasta, meatballs and vegetables. I'd bet the same amount of euros that nobody that day went up as many times as I did so just job done folks :-)
But before I made it past the River, I went to Rome's Spanish Steps - a must see according to one Internet site. Hmmmm, really...? Still, it wasn't a complete anti-climax as I managed to get these snaps whilst trying to work out what was so spectacular about this attraction.
I even managed to grab a motion shot of you know what... Needless to say I ran a mile as soon as I finished this snap cos let me tell you, that thing landed very close to me! :-)
I then went on to visit a number of piazza's, stopped and gazed and relatively empty streets and took a snap of man without a face before deciding it was time to head over past the river but not before a quick visit to The Pantheon.
I was initially more 'wowed' by The Parthenon in Athens, especially considering it pre-dates The Pantheon by over six centuries! But then I went inside and was able to appreciate its real inner beauty. Annoyingly my images of the inside came out poorly so just a few shots of the outside:
Admittedly though you are humbled when you stop and think that this was built over 2000 years ago whereas every other brick structure directly surrounding it were relatively new buildings of a mere couple of hundred years old.
Whilst in this area I went to see the Trevi Fountain and to see if I could find the Lucy-approved Valentino's for some ice-cream. Sadly the fountain wasn't looking like it should it as it was undertaking serious reconstruction. As in, even the water had been drained out! Still, no drama, after all I was here for the ice-cream! :-)
Did I find Valentino's from the many side streets and outlets? You betcha! Did I try the ice-cream and was it fantastic? You betcha!
And look, a personalised message from the great man himself. Luce - I think you made a big impression according to his spelling of your first name....! Are we all in agreement this clearly says 'LUST' ? :-)
I eventually crossed the bridge and it certainly was beautiful and not busy either which can often ruin an experience!
I reached what I thought was the highest point and on route and saw many more monuments of no-doubt considerable historic significance.........but the view that was to come was more memorable for me:
Fast forward several hours later and I was fortunate enough to have some freshly made Italian food as Laura (pronounced Lao-ra) invited me and her friend Daniela over for supper! Who is Laura? She is the Italian lady I mentioned the other day from the Belgrade festival and who I shared the same flight to Rome with from Serbia!
I felt super-honoured to have had such an invitation. I only met her and Alessandro (her friend) once before flight day! Needless to say it's these experiences which I will treasure most. I learnt lots too - the South (where they're both from) actually have some interesting cultural differences to the north so I'll be interested in whether any of our lot back home have anything to add.
Firstly, they are much bigger on an afternoon siesta than they are in the north.
Secondly - wedding talk. I said a large wedding in the UK would seat circa 150 people!? They said it would not be uncommon to seat 250-300. Yikes! Naturally I said how is that affordable! Here's where it gets interesting....It is accepted that guests be somewhat generous with their present to the married couple. You know a lot of my aged people in particular would hand over a 20 sheet (perhaps a 50 for a very close friend) they told me that a couple of hundred euros would be seen as normal. OMG! They quickly said this would not be expected in the Rome/Lazio area so really strange that what a difference of a few hundred kilometres can make!
They also said the experience can be a bit of an ordeal as they can sit down at 1pm and finish dining at 8pm. I sat quietly thinking that sounds like heaven to me :-)
So let's summarise: down south they sleep a lot more in the day, pay loads of money if you're the lucky one getting married and they eat like hell. I think we all need to emigrate down south, don't you? :-)
Course 1: Pasta with Pesto and Capers!
Course 2: Chicken and mushrooms! Needless to say I finished that pan myself and most of the red wine. My Godfather will be proud of my efforts here.
Anyway, thanks for reading folks, I hope some of it has been insightful.
On behalf of myself, Laura and Daniela - buonasera.