When in Rome
Today is my parents 45th wedding anniversary. The fact that my mother is spending it with me on the opposite side of the planet to my dad is deeply appreciated, especially knowing that it is an occasion they both hold dear. With my phone disconnected to avoid nasty phone bill surprises, we set about trying to establish a connection through other technological means. We knew Dad was having dinner at my sister, Gabrielle’s house so we tried Skyping her but to no avail. We sent her messages through Facebook and Instagram and did the same to my other sister, Bec, who is in China but most likely to have an open line of communication. Mum and I dragged our heels getting ready to give them the opportunity to reply. We were literally one foot out the door when we the computer chimed and screen lit up to beckon us back inside. I felt such a strange swell of emotions throughout the call – love and gratitude for my parents whose own love has grown and deepened over the years, good fortune at being a product of and witness to it, sadness that my own love, which I took to be for a lifetime, didn’t stand the same chance, guilt at being the cause of their separation on this occasion, but mostly I just laughed my head off at Gabrielle’s on screen antics – she is hilarious – I wish I’d recorded the call to share with you all!
We then headed to Campo de’ Fiori for a meal more aptly described as lunch than breakfast for the time we ate it. We grabbed a selection of pizza slices from the Forno (bakery) and perched ourselves on the lip of the nearby fountain to watched the market place bustle while we tucked in. Before we threw ourselves into the thick of it, we sought caffeination at the counter of a non-assuming bar on the square – it was amazing! As pretentious Sydney-coffee-snobs, our expectations of coffee in Italy is quite high and on this occasion, we were very satisfied self-appointed-afficianados (in truth, I’m not as discerning as I’d like to pretend I am but I know what I like and they were serving it!)
We meandered through the market enjoying as I always do, the colourful display of fresh fruit, vegetables and flowers and of course, being Italy, a vast array of pastas, herbs, spices and olive oils. We moved on towards the Tiber River for a view of Isola Tiberina and to join a bus top tour! With only a few days to see everything Rome has to offer and without wanting to exhaust Mum too much, it really is our best option. We climbed up top, rugged up against the cold, plugged in our headphones, switched to the English channel, sat back and relaxed as we were spoon fed the history of Rome in a complete loop that took about two and half hours. We got off at Piazza Augusto Imperatore to find it closed for renovations. Not too fussed we made our way to Piazza di Spagna – home of the famous Spanish Steps – to find them closed! It appeared that there was some major cleanup in progress so we took the opportunity to visit the Keats Museum at the foot of the stairs. Inside the gift shop, we were told by the lady with a very posh English accent that they were about to close but we took advantage of her English to find out what was going on with the Steps. She told us that we’d just missed a hurricane of soccer fans who absolutely trashed the joint requiring the rare and extreme measure of closing the Steps to be cleaned by emergency council crews. We joined the amassing crowds to watch the army of sanitation soldiers in neon orange sweep away the debris while the sun set. It was something to see the sea of people ascend the Spanish Steps as soon as the nod was given. Mum and I grabbed some roasted chestnuts and joined in.
The city lights twinkled on and from where we stood, we saw Via Condotti light up like a golden ribbon befitting its status as one of the world’s wealthiest shopping strips housing, as it does, all the great Italian fashion houses such as Bulgari, Valentino, Armani, Fendi, Gucci, Prada, Dolce & Gabbana and Salvatore Ferragamo. Mum and I did our best to strut our travel-chic amongst the parading Roman fashionisitas.
Before long we found ourselves back at Piazza Navona in need of refreshment. We decided to follow one of Frederico’s tips and pop into Bar del Fico in the little square at the top of our street for a quick drink before dinner. We inadvertently walked in to find ourselves amidst another great Italian gastronomic custom – aperitivo! For the uninitiated, aperitivo is essentially pre-dinner drinks with an unlimited buffet of antipasto and other snacks. Not wanting to seem crude, we ordered a cocktail each (Mum had an Orange Blossom, I had the unappetisingly named Horses Neck) and helped ourselves to a bit of this and a bit of that from the buffet. By the time we finished, we were so engrossed in conversation that it seemed a pity to leave so we ordered a Prosecco each (which came served in milkshake glasses) and another modest portion of this, that and little of the other.
The bar filled up around us with beautiful, young, local Romans. Mum was getting a real kick out of being out and about amongst it commenting that not too many of her peers would likely find themselves in a trendy little bar in Rome drinking into the increasingly late night. We were having so much fun watching the ebb and flow of life in the bar – watching couples get together, wandering at the content of conversations we could only see and not hear, imagining the fate of the sad woman behind us having her cards read by the resident psychic – that we decided to stay and call this dinner. As they say “when in Rome…” and so we ordered another round of Prosecco and did as they Romans were doing – living la dolce vita!
Patches McMum: My 45th Wedding Anniversary (I was an unborn bride considering I’m only 39 now – do your own maths)! I spoke to Ric******* Skype before we headed over to Campo di Fiori where we found good coffee and yummy pizza.
We walked to the bus top to join topless bus tour. We got off to see the Augusto Imperatone (August’s tomb) – it was run down and closed for repairs. Then we went to Piazza di Spagna to see the Spanish Steps which were covered with rubbish +++ courtesy of the soccer players and their followers. It was amazing to see local equivalent of council workers clean it up so fast. While they were cleaning up, we went to visit the Keats Museum. When they opened the steps again, we got roast chestnuts and ate them on the steps.
We strolled back along the Via dei Condotti passed all the fashion houses here – bellisimo! We then walked to our local bar, Bar del Fico – 1 orange blossom cocktail, 1 horses neck cocktail and 4 proseccos to celebrate Richard’s and my 45th wedding anniversary! Amazing, they let us eat as much as we could from their buffet (we did well) with our drinks. Home to our apartment, just around the corner. Another good day!