Friday, April 1, 2011

Doing Rome in a Day - with style!

Parking, Roman style.
After a full six hours of sleep (whoo hoo!!!) I was ready to hit the big city. Cristina had to work until the middle of the afternoon, so I went out shopping on my own for the first little while. She lives right off the Via Appia, down the way from a great big ruined Roman wall. I went into a sort of department store called Coin and just as I entered, someone handed me a coupon for 50% off haircuts and styling. Well, heck, I needed a cut and colour something fierce, so I thought, how convenient!

The wall at Via Appia - how I oriented myself.
And then I had a gelato for lunch.

In my wanderings, I happened on a whole alleyway of street vendors selling some really nice stuff, similar to the wares found in the department store but for a fraction of the price. Fantastico!
I went into a bank to change some money and succeeded in looking like an idiot - yes, again. I walked into the foyer and was confronted by a glass wall with these two cylindrical pods (like something out of Star Trek) that seemed to be the entrances. A semi-circular door slid open and I entered. But the door on the other side of the pod, leading INTO the bank wouldn't open. Some recorded voices started yammering away in Italian (of course) but I had no idea what the deal was. So I got out and tried again. Meanwhile the security guard is watching me going in and out and in and out. Finally, some other little guy (not the security guard) explains the whole proceedure to me. It seems that going to the bank is not unlike going through airport security. You have to put your bags, your belt, and your cell phone into a little locker in the foyer. Then you enter the little pod thingy and it scans you to make sure that you aren't packing anything dangerous. Then the second door will finally slide open, allowing you to enter the bank. Good gravy.
So after my little bank adventure, I made my way back to Cristina's (only got slightly lost) and we went downtown.
Wowzer. When my brother said that the whole city was like a museum, he wasn't kidding. Here is some of the stuff we saw:

Some Italians say this looks like a big, white, wedding cake. Pfft.

Cristina in front of the Fountain of the Four Rivers
Inside a big round church, the name of which I've forgotten.
And, of course, the Parthenon
And then, naturally, we had more gelato :)

It was absolutely awesome having Cristina to show me around. We just walked and walked for hours. The highlight was buying a bottle of beer and a cone of chestnuts and having them in front of the Trevi Fountain.

Chestnut vendor by the Trevi Fountain
Cheers, Dad! Having a Guiness and a cone of chestnuts for you!
Tossing a coin (yes, I'm a tourist) and wishing to come back with Troy someday.

After a lovely dinner, we headed home - another small adventure in a city that is still affected somewhat by the bus strikes. The buses are running on a "we'll show up when we feel like it" schedule and the taxi lines are really long. But we managed to share a cab with a couple heading in our general direction. Amazingly, it turned out that Cristina had once worked with the same company as the man in our cab. So suddenly, I found myself in a cab-full of geologists happily chattering away in high-speed Italian about rocks and stuff while listening to Rod Stewart on the radio. (Cristina is defending her PhD thesis in two weeks on hydrogeology) Good times.

Tomorrow, St. Peter's Basilica (I think) and dinner with the family. Just one day left!
A domani...

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