I fell off the internet planet for the second half of my trip. I didn’t have free internet, so it kind of ruined it for me. Montacatini was awesome since the hotel there kept us happy with free wifi for all our devices. Roma and Sorrento hotels were stingy and charging. Sad. I guess I still never quite made it out of the DMZ from my trip to Korea either.
Roma, dei II, began with a trip to the Vatican. A country within a country. We were reminded of that often.
It was packed and hot and fast and I hated it. I’m sure I saw a ton of amazing art work, yet I feel like I didn’t really see any of it. I also felt that they must be hiding their best artwork because the museum was too humid and hot for their best works. I did not find religion there. I lost more religion than I found. The opulence was overwhelming as well as the surrounding poverty. I don’t believe in God, and I think Jesus was just a man, but I don’t believe that he would be happy with the Catholic Church. The great wealth they show is juxtaposed against the poverty of the city. If I were running the church, there would be homeless shelters everywhere and anyone would be welcome. I’d dress like Castro instead of like the Pope. There would be free meals at the Vatican for anyone who came. Simple meals, but you would never be hungry. Instead, I left the Vatican tired and bitter and starving. The Sistine chapel was a thing of beauty, as was St. Peter’s Basilica, but I didn’t see religion there. I saw amazing art with a religious theme.
When we escaped the small country within a country, Meine Schwester, Rocket Man, and I ran for it. We were angry and fighting and knew we were just hungry. We just needed a to find a place to eat. Away from the Vatican. Away from the tourists. Away from each other, but that wasn’t happening. We knew that if we ate and drank we’d stop fighting. But we bickered about which way to go. I tried to stop, but I couldn’t. Then we angrily agreed on a place, ordered our usual pizza and liter of vino rosso de la casa.
Fifteen minutes later, all was forgiven. Another fifteen minutes and we were ready to continue our adventures in Roma. We had the afternoon free. We’d told Super Mario that we wouldn’t be catching the bus back to the hotel and we’d find dinner and a ride home on our own. It was our only night out to explore and we were exhausted already.
We ventured to the southeast of Roma. Supposedly it was an up-and-coming area. I’d found a fountain to see. We started walking. Meine Schwester had a plan. She’d seen an advertisement for Lavazza and wanted to recreate it. That was our mission. We’d brought dresses and Rocket Man had a suit and tie. They were in our backpacks the entire time we were at the Vatican, waiting for the perfect moment that hadn’t come. This fountain was going to be it!
Then we got there. The fountain was empty. There were homeless people sleeping on park benches. A lot of graffiti. A couple people looked like they were on drugs. We sat down on a bench. I sat on the opposite side so we had a 360-degree view. Rocket Man didn’t understand at first, but Meine Schwester understood and was appreciative. We are overly paranoid. It is kind of fun.
We tried to plan our escape. We saw public transportation, but were unsure of how it worked. We were tired from walking so much, but decided to walk our way back to the Pantheon, with the idea that we would find a gelato place along the way. It never came.
We arrived at the Pantheon at dusk. The entire trip we avoided eating at places that were directly in view of the tourist attractions, but we were starting to get tired and angry again and needed a bottle of wine. A waitress beckoned us to sit at her table. It had a direct view of the Pantheon. We were weak. We succumbed.
We ordered another pizza and another bottle of wine. A little wine later, things seemed good again and we could stop fighting. A little wine more, and it was time to change. We asked the waitress, “Dove il bagno?”
“Oh, we don’t have one. But there is one down the street. Around the corner a block or two. It takes a euro. It is down there.”
“Seriously?” Our smiles turned to frowns. We’d eaten there hoping for a bathroom we could change in. Now our dreams were shattered.
“Sorry.” She walked away. We wondered what to do. The way she had pointed was not in the direction we’d wanted to go and we didn’t want to pay. Maybe we’d just go to Trevi Fountain and find another place to eat and use their bathroom. But we weren’t hungry anymore. Sigh.
The waitress came back. “Just kidding! It’s back there.”
She was pretty funny about it. I took my backpack and went to change. I had a bridesmaids dress from the wedding of Sparkles and Life Partner. I’m still waiting for Life Partner to leave Sparkles for me. ;-)
I came out of il bagno ready for a party. I sat back at the table amid the stares. The waitress appeared again to say, “You can’t sit there. My friend is sitting there. You’ll have to go.”
I laughed and Rocket Man went next. He came out in a suit and tie. Meine Schwester went back and came out wearing a dress she had custom made for the Marine Corp Ball.
The French women behind us asked if we were going to a wedding. We explained we were just doing it to take photos. I’d been playing with my camera trying to figure out some good night settings and get photos of the Pantheon. The table was the perfect place to hold still. Meine Schwester and Rocket Man stood up and I started shooting.
That is when the mime arrived.
Yes, The Mime.
He was pretty funny and we weren’t trying to get the best photos there. So he is in a few of them. He stole small children passing by and gave them to us. I wondered if the children were in on it and trying to steal stuff from us. They didn’t get anything.
We got a few cute photos, paid our bill and headed off to Trevi Fountain for the real photos. It is amazing how people will move out of your way for photos if you are wearing suits and ball gowns.
We shot a lot of photos at Trevi Fountain and came away with one good enough for Meine Schwester and Rocket Man to hang on their wall.
On to the Spanish Steps! We were surprised to see tons of people just sitting around on the steps. We took a couple photos at the base of the steps, and then Meine Schwester and Rocket Man moved towards the center of the steps.
That is when the whole crowd started singing.
We don’t know what they sang, but at the end, they kept clapping and cheering until Meine Schwester and Rocket Man kissed. After final applause, they returned to milling about. I wish that I’d recorded it on video.
After a few photos at the Spanish Steps and the serenade, we headed for the subway. Thinking about it now, we probably should have gone out for another bottle of wine or dancing, it being a Saturday night and all, but I’m guessing we were exhausted.
At the subway, we found the ticket machines wouldn’t take anything over five euro bills, but all we had were twenties. So Meine Schwester asked strangers to make change. Most people ignored us thinking we were begging, but one well-dressed couple noticed we were also well dressed and stopped to actually listen to what we were asking and made change for us.
Overdressed for the subway, we exited at our stop, walked the right direction down the street, and miraculously found our way back to the hotel. We had successfully navigated our way around Rome and had some great pictures to show for it!