Italy, Part 1: Rome

It often takes time to plan an overseas trip.  Many factors have to come together for a trip to be successful and enjoyable….especially if you’re travelling with someone who doesn’t live in the same place as you.  You have to coordinate schedules.  You have to ensure that you have sufficient funds.  You have to agree on where you want to travel to, etc.

No matter how good of a planner you are, I don’t think it’s realistic to be able to foresee every possible challenge or hiccup.  All you can do when faced with a challenge is adjust accordingly and work around it.  As an example, when I started planning this trip, the first arrival destination was supposed to be Alicante, Spain and then a road trip to Barcelona.

After planning and researching, I came to the determination that Rome was more economically viable to fly into and taking local transport was easier than renting a car.  Karan, from Toronto, came with me but his schedule allowed him to arrive in Rome a few days before me.

For a number of reasons, this was the most challenging trip yet.  Some of it was my fault because I tried to see too many places in a too-short of time.  But some of it was out of my control.  For example, I arrived in Rome during the middle of a record heat wave that, at times, was a bit hard to bare.

I always approach a new place with a sense of excitement and curiosity, so I didn’t want to waste a lot of time after arriving in Rome.  As soon as I left the airport, I immediately got on the train to the center of town and from there, made my way to meet up with Karan in his hotel room.

Since I had been traveling for over 24 hours, I took a quick shower before heading out to explore the city.

Rome is interesting to say the least.  It’s an old city that looks every bit of it’s age.  Many buildings are old, run down, and laced with graffiti art.  The streets are loud, crowed, and dirty in some parts.  That’s not a criticism.  I liked it.  It’s just that my camera has an uncanny ability to make everything look really good.  The streets of Rome are louder and dirtier than the pictures in this entry seem to portray……at least in my eyes.

Karan and I agreed to walk to the Colosseum after leaving the hotel.  While walking, we came to San Giovanni in Laterano.  San Giovanni in Laterano is the first built of four major basilicas in Rome.  It was built in the fourth century and is the oldest church in the west.  From an artistic standpoint, this building is a masterpiece.  Every inch of this place is thought out and designed to the smallest detail.  The columns and windows are perfectly positioned for the suns rays to enter.  Even the floor design is dead accurate.  I happened to catch a shot of a woman standing in the center of the main floor with the sun rays hitting her from all sides.  She looked like an angel.  There is no way that was an accident.  That church was designed and engineered to create that effect.

After leaving San Giovanni in Laterano, Karan and I still had the intention of seeing the Colosseum.  Karan asked Siri for directions since we had no idea how to get anywere.  We walked around for about two hours in the scorching heat before we realized that Siri didn’t know how to get there.  She kept sending us in the wrong direction.  For those who aren’t technologically inclined……Siri is an artificial assistant that gives you information based on voice queries.  The feature is part of the iphone operating system.    I’m not complaining about walking around since I like to exercise and I wanted to explore the city anyway, but it still would have been nice to not walk around aimlessly.  After two hours of walking around, we got a cab to the Colosseum.

The Colosseum is an ancient amphitheater that was completed around 80AD.    Originally an entertainment venue, the Colosseum has had many uses over the centuries.  Like San Giovanni in Laterano, the Colosseum is a masterpiece.  A work of art.  The ancient Romans were definitely an incredible society to be able to construct something like the Colosseum without the technology that we take for granted today.

After the Colosseum, I was getting hungry and very thirsty.  We walked to a local eatery called “Wanted” for food.  Prior to arriving in Italy, I made some assumptions that, later, I realized were incorrect.  Given how English is so widespread around the world, I expected most people in Italy to at least speak conversational English.  Furthermore, because Italy is so close to Spain, I expected at least some people to speak Spanish.  Neither of those assumptions turned out to be true.  That, at times, created a bit of a language barrier.  Luckily, Spanish and Italian are very similar.   I found that when I was trying to communicate with someone who only spoke Italian, speaking to them in Spanish and them speaking to me in Italian was sufficient enough for us to understand what each other was trying to say.

At “Wanted” I got myself a Pizza con Funghi (mushrooms).  Pizza in Italy is served differently than it is in North America.  It’s not cut into slices.  In Italy, you eat pizza with a knife and fork like you do a waffle or a steak in North America.  That’s not a bad thing.  It’s just different than what I’m used to.  I ate the whole thing.

After lunch, we walked to another eatery for drinks and an after-lunch snack.  It was a nice, quaint little coffee shop called La Bottega del Cafe (Bottle of Coffee).  I had a cocktail while Karan had coffee and wine……I think.  We spent about an hour at the coffee shop resting.  I was exhausted after walking around for about five hours in the scorching heat.  I needed to sit down.

It was getting into the late afternoon after we left La Bottega del Cafe.  Karan and I got our stuff and made our way back the train station.  There were other places we wanted to see.  Our next destination was Naples (Napoli).








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