Two Weeks In Rome

Ok so last time I blogged I was going to do a post spanning  two weeks, but I didn’t, so now I will.  The week after Prague I stayed in Rome, and this past week my parents came to visit so I stayed in Rome as well.  Today is Monday March 12th and I am finally caught up with my blogging!  Dang that was easy. Now, allow me to elaborate a little.

The week after Prague was a busy one.  I spent a lot of time in the library because of midterms (seriously I did) , I made some soup for a fundraiser for famine in the Sahel region of Africa (broccoli cheese soup mmmmm my new specialty) , I went to a John Cabot University soccer game (nothing like a gameday at Madison…in total there were fifteen fans…about 79,985 fewer than at Camp Randall on a Saturday) and then Friday I went to the beach!  It only cost a euro to get there because we rode the metro line out to the coast.  I think the locals thought we were insane because for them the water might as well have been frozen.  We were the only ones wearing swimsuits.  The water was cold.  I saw an octopus.  I built a sand castle.  Fun stuff.

On Saturday I went to explore the park behind the hill which is behind my apartment.  Walking around the park on a beautiful Saturday afternoon, I got to see a different side of Rome.  People were everywhere but it didn’t seem crowded.  People strolling, walking dogs, kids playing soccer, couples canoodling, sipping wine on blankets, some dude picking a guitar.  It was remarkably peaceful but it struck me that the people themselves weren’t acting all that different.  It was the lack of cars and mopeds and sirens and busses; and no tourists.   That’s what set it apart and made it interesting to see Rome without all the
craziness.  Without the constant din of background city noise, the sound of Italian conversation was what stood out. And the best, albeit cliché, way to describe it, is that its musical.  Especially when you can’t understand what they are saying and all you hear are the sounds of casual conversation with all the ups and downs and inflections and vocal flourishes.  It almost seemed odd that they weren’t dancing while they talked.  When they talk it sounds very dramatic even though they’re probably just talking about the weather.
As I entered the park I saw a father and son passing the soccer ball around and when I left a few hours later they were still doing the same thing.  As was the old couple I saw napping on a park bench.  After 2,500 years of refining their techniques, the Romans seemed to have mastered the art of relaxation.  There were middle aged men wearing jerseys of popular athletes playing full scale soccer games and old guys playing bocce ball in the dirt.

On Monday I filled out what I sincerely believed to be the perfect NCAA bracket (its incredible how wrong I can be sometimes…actually mathematically speaking its downright surprising) and then my parents arrived!  Yes I thought I could elude them if I moved to a different hemisphere but somehow they tracked me down.  They lured me into their midst for a whole week with the temptation of absurdly delicious meals.  So I acquiesced and had, gastronomically speaking, the most wonderful week of my life.  Oh, and they brought peanut butter and Wisconsin cheddar cheese! My tummy was very happy.  I actually really do love my parents.
They rented an apartment a couple blocks away from me from an Italian sommelier named Federico.  Very cozy place on the second floor with a big outdoor patio porch thing.  It was right at road level and the visitors’ entrance for the Roman prison was right across the alley so it was pretty noisy spot but it offered a good flavor of Roman life.  The highlight of the dinner the first night was the deep fried zucchini flowers that we got for an appetizer.  Delicious.  Wednesday I walked them around and saw all the sites.  Campo di Fiori, Circus Maximus, Coliseum, the Forum, we went to the top of the Victor Emanuel monument (absolutely amazing view of Rome), Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, Piazza Popolo, Mausoleum of Augustus, Pantheon…tons of walking.  We got hungry.  So as we walked through Piazza Navona probably twenty different waiters tried to lure us into their respective establishments for food.  They can smell hungry tourists and apparently we looked like easy pickin’s; maybe it was the famished look I had on my face or maybe the rumblings of my tummy were a bit too obvious.  One of the restaurants had a sign that boasted in English that their food wasn’t frozen.  Wow, tempting. But, refusing to succumb to tourist-trap overtures such as this, we ran the gauntlet and pressed on to find an alleyway with a little restaurant to hunker down at and recharge the batteries.  Next I had class, then the rents took me and the roommates to dinner.  Thursday was class then delicious dinner (dinners usually ended around 10:30 or eleven).  Then I watched the Badgers win their first round game.  On Wisconsin!

On Friday we hired a driver named Adriano (he’s a hilarious old man who tells some bad jokes but knows everything about everything) to take us to the town of Tivoli to see Hadrian’s villa and some pretty cool fountains.  More food was eaten atlunch and dinner, then on Saturday Adriano took us to see the Amalfi coast.   We drove past Mt. Vesuvius, luckily no eruption, and through each of the towns along the Amalfi coast.  By far the coolest, most picturesque road I’ve been on. Trying to describe it is pointless so I’ll try to post a picture or two.  I feel like I’m rambling so I’ll wrap it up.  We went to the park Sunday, cooked our own food for once (Amatricana pasta and ricotta cheese dumplings..mmmm) and then I bid adieu to therents.  It was a great week.