Today my mother is moving. My father Ian, built the house and they lived there very happily for 20+ years. Dad died a few years back and some of his ashes are scattered in the garden. My mum is 73 and yet this is only the 3rd time she has moved in her adult life. How did a woman so settled manage to raise a daughter who can't sit still (I once had 11 different address in 3 years).
She raised three children by herself (Ian didn't come along until I was 15) and took us around Europe in a Kombi van for a year in the 70's. She is wholly responsible for giving me incurable Itchy Feet Syndrome* by introducing me to the Sistine Chapel when I was nine years old. It seems quite fitting that I am now back in Rome introducing my own daughter to the Sistine Chapel.
Happy Moving Day Mum !
* A Swiss lady emailed me to offer me accommodation in Bern. She was very concerned about my "foot problem" and was wondering if I would be able to walk up the three flights of stairs to her apartment.
So apologises to my foreign readers for being so ambiguous. Itchy Feet Syndrome is not an actual disease - it is a state of mind - a desire to be constantly traveling and seeing new things and meeting new people.
Breakfast was included in our roomrate and so we dutifully turned up at 7.30am to be greeted with juice, a bun and jam - a typical continental breakfast. What was not typical was the 4 different types of croissant, coco pops, coffee, yogurt, fruit, cheese, biscuits and the serve yourself buffet. We ate the croissant, juice and coffee and pocketed all the rest for lunch.
As an introduction to the city we had chosen a hop on hop off bus tour, hoping that it would not be similar to our Greek experience. It cost 13 euros and the recorded commentary was excellent. We did the full 3 hour loop first, leisurely sitting on the top deck eating our stolen lunch of cheese and buns. We had heard about the legendary lines at St Peters but what we saw was just ludicrous...crowds of people spilling into the streets -until we realised that something big was happening in the distance. We could see the red robes of the cardinals but no white ones. No Sistine chapel for us today!
We hopped off at the last stop which was the Trevi Fountain. The BOSS tossed in the obligatory coin and we went in search of a coffee. We bypassed the gelato shop with 200 flavours and wandered into a coffee shop where we were directed to sit at the outdoor table and our cafe latte would be brought to us. Too late, I remembered that table service costs more and we should have taken our coffee at the bar like all the other Italians were doing.
We wandered over through the posh shopping streets to Piazza Spagna and the Spanish Steps. The BOSS was looking longingly at all the fabulous window displays of Prada, Dior, YSL and Versace but we consoled ourselves by buying a five flavour gelato and sitting on the Spanish steps. Just to torture ourselves more we wandered back through the shopping streets and found the "Time Elevator". It is advertised as an interactive journey through time and giving you a view of what Rome used to look like. We sat in seats like a rollercoaster and as the film played the seats moved and jolted around and periodically we got blasted with cold air or sprinkled with water. It really had the potential to be great as the technology was excellent and the presentation and atmosphere were spot on, but it just lacked good content. It really should have been written by a school teacher rather than some city official. It wasn't totally horrible, it just wasn't worth the 34 euros we paid.
We then hopped back on the bus and went to the Colosseum but the lines looked dauntingly long and we were about to give it up when we were approached by a young man from New Zealand who offered to take us on a tour and skip the line. This was a sensible idea but when we counted up our cash we realised we would need to find a bank first. In the end we decided it was too late in the afternoon to be starting another long walking tour so we would come back in the morning and start afresh. We hopped back on the bus for yet another loop, which was not such a strain. The bus is pleasant, the commentary is very informative and there was no hold ups with traffic.
By 5 in the afternoon we were starving for some proper food, so we stopped at a corner cafe which had fabulous displays of yummy looking food at reasonable prices. Unfortunately it did not taste nearly as good as it looked and this, our second Italian meal, was also a disappointment. We really must go to a recommended restaurant.
When we returned to the hotel Stuart had made contact. He and Matt needed accommodation for the following night so I reserved him a room at the Cambridge.
Our good friends in England, currently living in Australia, gave me the name of friends of theirs in Rome - Chris and Carla. Chris rang to welcome us to Rome and to say that Carla would be working as a guide at the Colosseum the next day so in the end it was good that we hadn't gone on the tour that afternoon.
For years I have been told by friends and fellow travellers (and it has been perpetuated by the media) all sorts of myths about Rome and Italians.
Myth #1 Rome traffic: We spent the whole day on the top of a bus looking down on Roman traffic and I did not consider it to be any worse than Sydney traffic and certainly far better than the carpark we experienced in Athens. There was the occasional beeping of a horn but again, it was not the constant cacophony I had been lead to expect. The drivers in general were indeed quite reckless with thousands of scooters weaving in and out of the buses but they were skilled enough not to hit each other or the pedestrians. At least in Italy every motorcyclist wears a helmet.
I am quite confident I could easily negotiate the streets of Rome on a scooter if only I could convince the BOSS to navigate the streets of Rome.
Myth #2 bottom pinching Italians: We have been in Rome now for two days and as yet, my bottom remains unpinched. It's not that surprising really, that my bottom has not been pinched but the BOSS has a very cute rear end and I find it incredible that no-one has yet had a go at it.