Aaah, Rome. What a phenomenal city.
I was somewhat intimidated upon our first meeting. I feared the language barrier would lead us up numerous dead-ends, not to mention all the thieving gypsies and pick-pocketers we’d been warned about.
Whilst I am confident in reading an Italian menu (seen plenty of them before), purchasing two tickets for the train is a little different to ordering a Vitello Tonnato. For one, the consequences are much more serious if you get it wrong. Our first train journey was from the Roma Fiumicino airport to the centre of Roma, Termini Stazione. Hubby and I were nervously standing in the queue at the ticket booth — and I say ‘nervously’ because I wasn’t even sure we were in the right place, let alone the correct queue for buying tickets. I sighed relief when I realised the bloke standing in front of us was American, and speaking to the guy in the ticket booth in English. Phew! Little did I know, hubby was taking clues from the Italian/English signs around him, combining it with his knowledge of Italian numerals, and forming a sentence. When he got to the front of the line, the following left his lips: “Due biglietti Roma Termini, per favore”. I’m not sure which the ticket booth operator found more amusing: hubby’s first attempt at Italian pronunciation, or the obvious shock on my face. For a split second I thought that all those years of subconsciously absorbing the language from his Italian-speaking grandparents had been suddenly switched on since landing in their native country. My second irrational thought was ‘he’s been secretly studying!’.
Our second journey was through the Metro, Rome’s underground train network, from Termini to Piazza di Spagna. The directions in the station seemed simple enough, but after winding up and down stairs, and around dark little corridors for what seemed like forever, I began to doubt we were going in the right direction. But we got there in the end — hauling our luggage along the way.
A short stroll from the hotel and it became clear that every street is a little alley and the drivers are nuts. Cobbled streets adorned with designer outlets gave way to monuments of increasingly gargantuan proportions. I’ve never experience a city with such obvious and ancient history — every corner we turned we exclaimed ‘what the hell is that?’. We were blown away.
The days and nights were hot, yet walking was the only form of transport we utilised since arriving. Needless to say, mountains of carbohydrates were on the menu. Lunches and dinners mainly consisted of an entree of mozzarella di bufalo and proscuitto, a main of pizza or pasta, and dessert of gelato. The delight of Italian cuisine is its simplicity. Few ingredients in traditional combinations — the deliciousness is in the quality of those ingredients.
My favourite food moment in Rome was Cannoli di Siciliana in a fancy little restaurant overlooking Piazza del Popolo. A crisp crunchy pastry tube, filled with the most deliciously creamy custard-type filling. It was just magical. Watching Roma life go by from our seats, the following become obvious: Rome has a ridiculously high proportion of stunningly beautiful women. Flawless skin, golden tan and impeccable fashion. Women who, I might add, have the amazing ability of navigating the uneven cobbled streets wearing heels, without looking at their feet. I was simultaneously awed and jealous!