Friday, May 25, 2012

When in Rome?

The Trevi Fountain
Off to Rome for the weekend. I've been to Rome, but I don't think I've ever done what Romans do when I've been in Rome. What do Romans do when they're in Rome? If my ethnological instincts are perky and fit today, I'd be correct in assuming that the average Roman stays home on Saturday night, boils up some store-bought pasta, drinks half a glass of really cheap red wine and falls asleep in front of the TV watching Italia's Got Talent. Non lo so, but I think this would be fairly accurate. And I'm not about to make my own pasta. I can't even eat pasta.

The last time I was in Rome, my hotel was about two kilometers away from the Vatican, so I got up early every morning and ran to Piazza San Pietro. It was not such a beautiful run since most of it was through a run-down neighborhood, but once I arrived at the Vatican I was rewarded with the opulence of organized religion. And coffee.

I put milk in this espresso doppio.
In Rome, it's not really cool to drink coffee like an American. In Rome, coffee is drunk standing in a "Bar" in iddy-biddy cups with sugar, with three old men. No one even gets to sit down. What's the point? The Roman espresso experience lasts about 49 seconds--98 if you order an espresso doppio, which of course I did. And the barman looks at you weird when you don't put sugar in the espresso. I'm going to try to drink coffee like the Romans this weekend, but I can't promise I won't hunt down a Starbucks.

In 2009, my father was generous to treat six people to a tour of Rome that lasted all day. It was an exorbitant indulgence that included at tour of the Catacombs. Grazie, Papa! The tour, sadly, did not go well for everyone. To read about it go HERE

We have reservations for a Vatican tour. I've done this tour before, so I know how long one has to wait in line for the bathroom. Have I told you I hate crowds? I was on Piazza San Pietro for Easter 2000 when Pope John Paul II greeted the world in 179 thousand different languages. I was not the only one there. Have I told you I hate crowds? There is always a steady stream of blessing-seeking crowds at the Vatican. Holy hordes, Batman. I booked an a.m. tour, which is supposed to get me in and out before the seas of people begin to invade the Holy See. We'll see.

My mission this time is to find the Gluten-free Rome. Roma senza glutine as it were. A quick Googling has given me three pages of restaurants, so I think I'll be fine. Va béne, I say to myself. Tranquillo. After all, vino é sempre senza glutine. Giusto?

Do you think the Romans have their pictures taken with fake Centurions? I'm not sure they do this, not every day at least. And I'm pretty sure they're fake, not like the Beefeaters at the Tower of London. They're real. I once fell asleep on the grass across from the Colosseum. That was a nice day, and I think sleeping on the grass across from the Colosseum is something a Roman might do.  

What is your experience with Rome? Were you there on Easter 2000? And if you were, how on earth did we miss each other?

Devo andare/devo essere matto!



Christopher Allen writes fiction, creative non-fiction and of course this here blog. His work has appeared in numerous places both online and in print. Read more about him HERE.