Rome

Saying goodbye to Italy…

Twelve days can’t really do justice to the wealth of experiences Italy has to offer…but we’ve had a blast attempting to. Pisa, Florence, the Tuscan region; Rome, Pompeii, Sorrento and Positano, the Umbrian region, Venice, Lake Como…and just when we’ve grasped the basics of the language…enough to order our drinks, a rough smattering of platitudes, apologies and a healthy dose of abusive road language…over the border again tomorrow, passports at the ready.

20110524-075230.jpgDicky has become the Gordon Ramsay of the Italian highway; Ducky never, ever wants to drive cliff side again…he holds up the traffic doing 20 km around those cliffs you see, and he’s not fond of the impatient drivers tooting, flashing their lights and signaling abuse behind him. Bella, Fifi and Pixi have each perfected the semi silent scream, discreet white knuckling and grabbing just the right amount of change from the car kitty within seconds for the endless tolls. Driving Italian roads is definitely not for the faint of heart.

There have been defeats too. Crossing the restaurant language barrier sufficiently to ensure20110524-075508.jpgfirst courses arrive before second and not all at once; never to change your mind for the original dish will always turn up…or nothing at all; never to expect butter…or plates, salt or ground pepper…but a great deal of bread (a symbol of welcome) and always a very, very large bottle of olive oil, along with ‘gas’ or ‘non gas’ water. Ordering a liqueur coffee is definately worth it though… just to watch the look of incredulity cross their faces.

Ducky and Bella leave us now as we cross to Switzerland then on to Paris and they to Milano, AbuDhabi and home. Dicky is remorseful…his drinking buddy and partner in crime is leaving and he’s now solo with Pixi and Fifi and their endless verbal diarrhoea…

Oh! And as for that Mediterranean diet? It’s a myth…

Private boat picnic – Portofino 20110524-075317.jpg

‘Yes of course you may share our desserts rather than select your own dearest’ – Sorrento20110524-081834.jpg

Fifi and Dicky at the Trevi Fountain – Rome
20110524-075713.jpgWe always were trend setters huh Fifi? – Monterosso – Cinque Terra20110524-075729.jpg

Exploring Pompeii20110524-075748.jpg

Fifi and Donutella – Florence20110524-075811.jpg

The gang on the Spanish Steps – Rome
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Cruising the harbor – Portofino20110524-075929.jpg

Papparazzi poses – Monterosso – Cinque Terra20110524-075230.jpg

Man of few words is Dicky –  Bellagio – Lake Como 20110524-075959.jpg
20110524-080044.jpgFarewell wayward travelers – enjoy the next leg of your journey – Lake Como

When in Rome…

Roman traffic is absolute maniacal mayhem! Double parking a given, smart cars parked in the most impressive places, two to a single space, tail in. Zero road lines, everyone jostling for supremacy in an effort to beat each other across the multiple four lane intersections. Exercising a great deal of bravado we hit the road out in peak hour as Dicky exercises the ‘when in Rome’ and for our efforts learn the most impressive ‘sign language’.

Ruins RomeSpectacularly historic city, recycled and built on top of itself over and over thus jam packed with cars simply because attempts to build underground carparks and train lines results in even more ancient archaeological finds…easier to cover it over and try again elsewhere.

20110515-043819.jpgA good portion of the women are over bronzed, fond of lipliner, sport bleached hair, excess bling and don’t appear to age well. The guys? Not too bad. Fifi loves the city, Dicky says it’s ok but full of ‘wogs’…bless! Ducky and Donna enjoy but we suspect the former is still smarting from the vegetarian restaurant…

As we progress down the coast, quickly realize Rome traffic was quite civilized compared to Naples…a grunge tinted city, at least in the ‘burbs for the GPS loves the back gritty streets. Definitely not the streets for the faint of heart. Next – Pompeii and the Amalfi Coast.

A few group memories:

20110518-100339.jpgLeft to right: Donna, Ross, Jenny, Kim on the Spanish Steps

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Three coins in a Fountain…

Meet our delectable private tour guide, Massimo…sparkling white teeth, crisp white shirt, Gucci loafers, rather cute… board the big black van, get thrown i20110515-043755.jpgnto chaotic traffic and arrive intact at the foot of the magnificent Vittoriano or National Monumento, dedicated to the fallen soldier, one of the newest buildings in Rome, opened in 1927. View the remains of the Roman Forum, temples, house of the Vestal Virgins and Basilica Aemilia from Palatine Hill then on to the Pantheon followed by the Trevi fountain…

20110515-043925.jpgBeautiful, strangely displaced amongst dense buildings, and crowded with fellow tourists. Shed a tear in fond memory of Pixi’s last visit with Kent and a happier time when we tossed a coin and promised each other we would be back. Instead, posing on the rim we reserve a space between us for our mighty fallen, now with us spiritually, throw our coins in the fountain then join the masses to pose on the famous Spanish steps.20110515-044017.jpg

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Lunch off the Piazza Navona then on to the Vatican. Sistine Chapel, hall of maps and the Basilica …the privilege of a private guide giving us instant access ahead of a crowd that stretches around the block, hot patient punters.

Conclude the day by viewing Rome – past and future – from a hilltop, before throwing ourselves back into the chaos of streets blocked by a protest march, exacerbated by the heightened security around the American Embassy opposite our hotel, a potential target for retaliation after Bin Laden’s demise.

In lieu of seeking one of the many ‘hip’ local eateries, relive the day via our iPad photo downloads, grab a meal in the hotel, retire to massage tired feet, guess our way through Italian dubbed movies and sleep…

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