You are a vicious and powerful beast.
Why did you make me sleep my whole first night of Rome away?
Do you hate me? Do you hate Rome? Are you just selfish, Jetlag?
*peers at the Jetlag beast with a quizzically raised eyebrow*
Well, I’ll make a you deal Mr. Lag. You leave me alone and I wont tell anyone how selfish you really are…
What do you mean they already know?
I awoke at some point in the evening, got up, had a shower, sat down for a moment to moisturize my legs then promptly fell straight back to sleep.
I awoke for a second time at about 5.30 on tuesday morning. Hot Damn! That is a lot of sleep!
About 13 hours.
I lay in my small bad and stare around at the room. It is bare. Very simple. This hostel is in an old nunnery. I think its about 400 years old. Just a baby, by Roman standards.
The walls are whitewashed and there are long blue curtains that fall from the high ceiling to the ground in stately folds. Everything is pristinely neat and quite austere.
I like it though. There is a stillness here, just a few streets away from the hustle and bustle of everything. I sort of feel like this would be the place to come and meditate if that was what you felt like.
I sneak out of the room and hop on the computer. Breakfast is not until 8 and everyone is sleeping like logs.
I talk to my friends back home, check my emails, have a shower. People begin to stir and walk sleepily into the breakfast room.
The breakfast is your standard hostel breakfast; continental. The bread though, is horrible. Its presliced and in individual sealed bags. I eat some yoghurt and begin talking to this older woman about the standard of bread. I say I wouldnt expect it from Italy. Before long we are talking about everything.
There is a fire in this woman. But also a tiredness. She tells me of how she just came back from a hostel in Iceland where it was very warm. Fresh food, little flowers, welcoming, like a home. She tells me of the corruption in Italy. She comes from L’ Aquila, a city that two years ago was rocked by an earthquake that killed many and left thousands homeless. But the city is so mired in corruption that you have to pay people to even get permission to rebuild your house. That they raised money to help the people, but the people saw nothing of it. And two years later there are still people living out of their homes.
She works for an organization called the International Womens Association that fights for the rights of women across the globe.
She is bold and brassy and educated. Half Italian and half english.
She writes articles that often dont get published because they come just a little too close to the truth. She has made a movie about Gandhi and Mandela and the anti-violent movement called ‘Together we lit up the sky.’
We decide to find some nice bread. So we walk and talk she teaches me a little Italian and I tell her about my childhood. She is off to a meeting but she shows me a bakery and we buy some biscuits and some nice (homemade!) bread and she shows me the Victor Emanuel Monument whichs she tells me conspiratorially the Italians called ‘The Wedding Cake’ because of its over the top frothiness.
We try to buy some cheese and the guy ignores us for a while, serving other costumers that come in after us and chatting to some men in uniforms until we actually have to get his attention.
He then puts far too much cheese in a bag and tries to charge us 20 euro. Bettina laughs at him, and then tells him in no uncertain terms that that is enough mozzarella for a family and that we wont pay and that he should be ashamed of himself. And with that we leave the store.
She explains that you still get this sometimes in Italy.. Men who will ignore you in favor of serving men and then try to treat you like a tourist. She apoligizes for her speach. I tell her that I find her attitude refreshing.
We have morning tea together even though she is running late. Because, in her words, ‘When you’ve misbehaved this badly, you may as well be late with style.’
I bid her goodbye and head out on the streets alone.
I get a little lost.
It is nice to get lost in Rome.
At least its nice when you’re not dragging your entire life worth of luggage with you.
When hunger strikes I find a place filled with Italians and order the Gnocchi with baby clams and a glass of white wine. They bring me a jug. Its a small jug, but a jug none-the -less.
The food is good. Really good. I mean seriously.. look at this…
Makes me want to eat it again. Pretty sure that sauce is just butter and garlic and wine. Mmmm.
I devour it all and then drink the wine cause I feel too akward to send it back and then head back to the hostel feeling a little silly.
I find some properly priced cheese from a polite fromagerie and also purchase some tomatoes and garlic from a fruit and vege store. (frutta e verdura)
I spent the evening having beers at a bar nearby with some ladies from the hostel. Two gals from the states, a lady from France and a woman from Canada who is originally from Russia. We talked and beered and listened to the people speak Italian and then we went looking for food. We found a place that was small and filled with ropes of garlic, bunches of chilli and bustling with locals.
Our choice was good. I tucked into pasta with cream, peas, mushroom and pancetta. Simple, well down and perfectly seasoned. Not to mention cheap.
The owner was a humerous guy who was very proud of his decorations. Near the end of the meal the chef came out, and, apon seeing Meradith drinking coffee WITH her soup he threw his hands in the air and yelled, “No! No! Caffe? E soup? No!” And he took her coffee away. Only once she had finished her soup did he bring her coffee back.
“Now..’ He says. ‘Caffe.” I hid my coffee and was glad he didnt notice.
We were all laughing and they braught us out giant rolled up pieces of card about 1/2 a metre each and proclaimed, “Bill.” With a huge grin.
In fact they were posters for the restaurant. And they gave us a discount . We all left laughing. I will be going back there, let me tell you.
My next few days are spent hanging out with Meredith and Meggie from the states. They are Wwoofing in Italy. We visited the catacombs of San Callisto and the Pantheon (serious OMG Factor – see below) and a the Cuppachin crypts (art made out of the bones of 4000 cupachin monks).
I spend a day with two awesome girls from australia where we TRY and see the inside of the Colluseum, but due to large rains in the city it is closed. Closed I tell you! We dont let this stop us from taking some rediculous photos before checking out the Ancient Roman Forum.
As you can see, we are behaving like serious adults..
We see some interesting pasta decorations outside of a restaurant and stop her for the best Gnochi I have had in a long time. The waiter is charming and the wine is good.
Rome is in my blood…