So I’ve been doing some homework on Italy. Rome, to be exact. It’s the first stop on our itinerary for next months big “We managed to stay married for HOW long?” anniversary trip to actual Europe.
Because after thirty years of dues, you should get to cash out. In euros.
We’re sampling the country’s smorgasbord, squeezing in a little of everything: Rome for savory big city vibe, Sorrento for a sting of menacing volcanic ghost town flavor, Florence for piquant vineyard and villa countryside, Cinque Terre of the salty Mediterranean cliff dwellers, and Venice for a tangy dessert. Venice may be more like stinky cheese than tiramisu, but let’s not judge before taking a bite first.
I have learned a little Italian in the meantime, my phone app turning it into a game which makes me compete for the next level but insists that I learn grammar instead of vocabulary, so I can tell you in very clear Italian that “the boy eats an apple” but cannot ask you for an apple myself.
I don’t want to starve in Italy.
So I memorized torta (cake), gelato (ice cream), , and te` al latte (milk) e zucccero (sugar), which is at the top of my list. Surprisingly, my Spanglish has been pretty helpful, and some words translate directly: festa, pizza, si, no.
“Pasta” covers all manner of delights but should not be confused with “basta” which means “enough already!”
I’m set. But this is not enough information to navigate a big city.
I haven’t been able to plan beyond day two in Rome, and I’ve been staring at it for a month.
Rome is older than your mother. Rome drives like your mother. You will never see all of Rome in two days. Like Disneyland, there is above-ground Rome, underground Rome, take a picture with a gladiator Rome, and a hop-on-hop-off ride that goes in circles just to relieve your cobblestone tromping soles. I’m hoping they have a little pineapple gelato stand next to the gate.
We must stop in and see the Pope. I’m pretty sure he’ll have some thoughts for this blog. Wise words like, “Be sure to buy a little Papal snow globe in the gift shop!” I always wondered what he keeps in that hat of his.
Although you can purchase bottles of holy water, I was warned not to drink it. Which is silly, because only a fool would get pregnant at my age. I will focus instead on the myriad of sparkling fountains around the city. I’m guessing one of them could be the Fountain of Youth and I’m happy to sample them all and let you know.
Speaking of which, some women got into a fight over a selfie-spot near the Trevi Fountain the other day and got Rome all worked up over whether they should close access to it. They should take a page from the Book of Rollercoaster and mount a camera there. When tourists have a spat, they can purchase their photos at the booth.
I myself hate being stared at and from what I can tell, Rome is nothing but statues. Cherubs and saints and frolicking water nymphs and Italian men on street corners. It’s like Greece sent Medusa over and the Italians said, “Do your worst” and now whoever’s left is just holding up lampposts and smirking over the fact that they can take my money to show it all to me.
“Hey lady!” they’ll call out like circus carnis, “You wanna see a really old thing?”
And they will laugh all the way to the bank. Right behind Mickey Mouse.
It really is legit, though, the ruins have the scorch marks to prove it. Everyone appears confused as to why Nero would just light the place up like that, but it’s obvious to me what happened: they had ants. Rome was built – quite unknowingly until it was too late, and much like my own palazzo – on seven ginormous ant hills.
At some point, they make you crazy and there is only one option left. Basta.
Hand me my fiddle.