One Day in Rome

The thing which never happens, has happened! On my upcoming trip to Italy I will have 24 full, unscheduled hours – all to myself.

No colleagues to entertain

No meetings to attend

No children to attend to

Just me, my map, and an ungodly amount of Frascati

I’ve visited Rome before, years ago, and after two weeks in Venice, Sienna, Cinque Terre, Bologna, and Florence I found it a sore disappointment: dirty, crowded, and overrun with tourists too lazy to do more than visit the big ten greatest hits.

But, Rome is the Eternal City for a reason. With a history that spans nearly 3,000 years Rome is one of the oldest continuously occupied cities in Europe. Rome is commonly considered the birthplace of western civilization and was the capital city for the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire.

So, yeah, I get that it is important … but so is Detroit; I don’t exactly want to visit every Christmas.

In fact, I’ve always kind of considered Rome the Italian city that tourists visit when they don’t really take their time to research the beauty that is Italy (hence the endless brigade of tourists marching nose-to-tail behind a flag wielding tour guide).

As for my interests, want amazing ruins, visit Turino, want breathtaking chapels – Venice, and don’t forget the art, culture, and food that is Florence!

However, I recognize that I’m sorta … well … wrong.  In 2011, Rome was the 18th-most-visited city in the world, 3rd most visited in the European Union, and the most popular tourist attraction in Italy (which is exactly the type of description that would keep me away). But, people love Rome. People eat, pray, and love their way to Rome and back year after year.

Rome is ruination and reinvention, thriving, bustling, sleepy, and special.  There is no denying that moment when you walk around a corner and come face to face with iconic ROME – the Trevi fountain, the Vatican, Hadrian’s Arch, or any of a thousand other spectacular glimpses into the astounding history of this eternal city.

So, I am putting on my rose colored glasses (they fit quite nicely after a catastrophically shitty trip to Bali, strep throat in Istanbul, and a July heat wave in Shanghai) and prepping for the next great adventure.

My itinerary for one day in Rome:

1. Skip the Caesar Shuffle and the Vatican, I’ve been there and done that. Instead I’ll start the day with a leisurely stroll and cappuccino in Trastevere.

2. Then, I’ll continue across the Tiber to the Parthenon, a visit to the daily markets of the Campo De’ Fiori, and a stroll through the Piazza Navona .

3. After a full day of wandering, I’ll end the afternoon with the Dolce Vita stroll (as coined by travel guru Rick Steves) starting with a glass of wine and snacks at the Piazza del Popolo then a saunter down the Via del Corso and up Via Condotti to the Spanish Steps to surround myself with smooching lovers and that feeling of being painfully alone … for just long enough to make a Skype call home to my family as they settle in to their day.

And, hopefully, this time Rome will leave me aching to return, understanding what those nose-to-tail tour group tourists have been raving about for years.

A Code No One Understands

Sitting in a noisy corner of a quiet bar there’s a story tickling the corners of my mind,
a song of Pirates, Cowboys, and runaway mothers on spring break
– abandoned in a forbidden and foreign place.

wpid-20141009_151638.jpg

There are lying lies, and the damn liars who tell them
covetous addicts, and drunks,
Telling stories without telling the story of the story teller.
And there are writers, who hide a lie behind the truth,
writing in a code no one understands,
yet hoping that one person will.

There sits a bottle, half finished,
whether full or empty depends on the audience,
and one’s perception of sitting alone to enjoy half a bottle of Seminyak Semillon.

There were fears not realized, and there are promises not kept,
and apologies that didn’t convey remorse
… I’m sorry if you thought that, but not sorry that was what I did. 

There was a happily ever after, that followed a prologue.
There was an almost, a never was, and a maybe-one-day
all preceded by an unsatisfying epilogue.
But, only the most trite of stories has an ending that offers closure.

Instead there’s the code: of silence, of expectations,
of conduct for adult behavior in adult situations,
that meets at the intersection of  once-upon-a-time and happily-ever-after
in a delightfully roundabout sort of way.

Cat on a Corrugated Tin Roof

Everybody likes a vacation, but adventure is an acquired taste.

20140113-215716.jpg

– Courtesy, Google Images Contributor

When I told people I’d be going to a high school in Nanjing, China, an English-learning Kindergarten class near Ubud, Bali, or a wedding in Cartagena, Columbia I sometimes got a funny, “Why the hell would you want to do that?” kind of look. But, to me, I giggle inside every time I think of it.

My next trip – Istanbul and Izmir, Turkey (in just a couple days) has me giddy with travel euphoria. Eight days at the W: fashion shows, food, music, the Bazaar, the hypnotizing sound of prayer call; I will love (and hate) every second of it. There will be Asia belly, fierce hunger, awkward fiscal interactions and social obligations, getting lost, and the 40% chin quiver pre-cry. Then, there will be mouth agape, shocked, delighted, “Holy Shit! This exists!” moments.

The universe is about to rough house me with lessons from a place I’ve never been!