Signor, this is crazy!
In a nutshell? Well, if you insist: run away. Just as quickly as you can, as your favorite means of transportation would carry you, run the heck away from here. Yes, I know, Coliseum, Forro Romano, this, that and the Trevi fountain: come back when the tour agencies are all bankrupt and gone off the face of the planet together with the cheerful crowds that they pump through their pipes of joy.
Ok, I’m ready to inhale again and start from some more travel-blog-appropriate beginning. Rome is fantastic, you just have to get really good at knowing where to look and where to go. I think I’m starting to understand now, after my second visit, but I’ll still have to work on it. One thing for sure: sticking to the tourist attractions will make you want kill yourself after two days. The heat, the crowd, the endless trying-to-sell-you-crap carousel – oh, mamma mia, make it stop.
If you want to enjoy yourself: (these are mostly notes to my own future use, though) seek simple pleasures: the green, parks, river side, simple food from standing-up corner pizzerias where locals go, churches if that’s your kind of thing, evening- and nighttime if you can.
At least this time we are in a B&B which is just a flat in a regular house, so we can pretend like we are normal real Romans, going about their day: making food in the kitchen, looking down from the 6th floor, taking out garbage and running around like an insane chicken, trying to park or re-park the car. (Seriously, this is like nightmare musical chairs: you’re always the last kid who cannot sit down and they won’t even let you stop playing when you lose!) Paolo who met us to hand over the keys didn’t speak a word English but was passionately helpful, talking with his forearms and the rest of the body to explain that the water heater will get empty, the elevator doors need to be closed or you’d face the laser beams of the neighbor’s look after her having to walk up with her groceries (live demonstration ensues). Oh, and that the Internet is, just, you know, here somewhere, all around us – apparently the whole Rome is soaking in free wi-fi (dirty lies).
At least he is friendly. One other character who keeps crossing paths with me here (seriously, I think I met him last time, 6 years ago. I am quite sure it is the same person) – a park attendant at Palatino hill. This time he is jumping us because Max has climbed a tree in the park and I mean literally jumping: getting all passionate with the hands and the shouting, about to give himself a stroke: signor, prego, this is crazy – arms go down with palms open at me, then to the sides, then to Max who is literally above the situation, in the tree. He’s behaving so little like an official representative that I have to ask to make sure he works there (Lidia though it sounded extremely rude when I asked). If you happen to meet the guy, tell him to go easy on himself 😉
After checking out the Coliseum and Foro Romano, the rest of the day is dedicated to trying to get away from people who in their turn are trying to make money on us, which brings us first to a little corner pizzeria serving so good pizza al taglio that I was worried about biting off my own fingers (TripAdvisor is proving surprisingly helpful with locating good places to eat), right across the street from that ruin where all the famous cats live – Pizzeria Florida. From there we walk through the Jewish quarter and down to Isola Tiberina – once again, fantastic gelato, on the left-hand side, if you walk from north down. The lower part of the island, close to the waters of Tiber is a quiet place that lets us stretch on the warm stone and relax before walking up to the subway station.
On our last morning in Rome I wake up at 7 to the full blast of a busy Monday morning in a big city: cars honking their horns, neighbors slamming heavy doors, parrots (?) – yeah, parrots in somebody’s cage across the street.
We are ready to head off away from the eternally crowded eternal city.