s a n d y f e e t . e x p o . i t a l i a . 9 9

feet in rome

Since I am traveling by myself and don't want this travelogue to look like I just scanned in a bunch of postcards, be prepared to see many pics featuring some interesting background and about half of my face trying hard not to grimace as I click the shutter.

All Roads May Lead to Rome...

(but some of them are pretty damn winding)

Every journey starts with a goodbye... or maybe several of them. It is always hardest saying goodbye to the dogs. They know that I am leaving but don't have a clue why or for how long and there is no way to explain it to them.

Uneventful flights to Houston and Paris but then there is too much traffic over Venice and we wait. Then we get on the plane and wait some more. Major storm rolls in with horizontal rain but by the time our plane pulls up to the runway the sun is shining. We arrive in Venice about 2 hours past schedule. Bus to train station, no problem. I have a six hour wait for my night express train to Rome, so I deposit my big suitcase and stroll to find a spot for a cold drink as it is very warm. Then back to the station, read a little, watch the ocean of people, try to stay awake as I got very little sleep on the flight.

There are many Americans - mostly teenagers it seems. They are loud and oozing a confidence that makes me envious. I get a lot of looks in my pither but no one speaks to me. I use the time to figure out how the Italian rail system works and by the time my train is about to show up I think I have a pretty good handle on the situation.

I lug my luggage to the right track and curse myself for packing so much. Pull up a bench and a young man immediately pulls up the seat right next to me. He asks me my name and age and whether or not I am married - in that order - and tells me I am beautiful even if I am old. His name is Fabio and he is headed for Naples. I tell him I will be going there in a few days and he writes down his phone numbers and suggests I call him when I get there. I say sure. (right) The train arrives and he helps me get my luggage loaded -- in a berth he is already sharing with a friend and another older man. I feel a little uncomfortable with this but decide I can use any kind a friend I can find at this point.

The train gets going and Fabio shows me how to pull the seats out so they make a bed. I no sooner stretch out and his is on me, all hands groping. I gently but firmly push him away. He cooperates briefly but he is persistent. At some point he gives up and wanders of to another berth. I finally start to drift off and just as I am about to get some much needed sleep he is on me again. "Cuchette" he keeps whispering, suggesting we move to a first class private berth. I am very firm now. NO! He seems to believe me this time. But he has still not given up completely though finally seems to settle for a cuddling thing. I decide to allow that. I think I get a little sleep.

In the morning, the older gentleman in our berth offers me a coffee - strong and sweet - which I gratefully accept. Just before we get to Rome, the ticket man shows up wanting to see some sort of proof that we actually paid for our tickets. He ponders my ticket and hands it back to me without comment. It seems that Fabio and his friend however have taken a gamble and jumped the train without tickets. Much shouting ensues and finally the friend pulls a big wad of money out his pocket and hands it over to the official. He looks like he is about to cry. Fabio buries his head in his arms. When we get to Rome they barely say ciao.

 It is 7 am and I feel like I have not slept in days. I have not eaten since the flight out of Paris and am feeling rather weak in the knees. My bags have gotten heavier with the hours and all my plans to carefully choose my Rome accommodations fly out the window. I approach a friendly-looking cabby and ask him to take me to a hotel. Any hotel as long as it is not too terribly expensive. He points out one just across the street from the station, the Hotel New Gemini. Since that is the current astrology sign I take this as an omen and trudge my way over. Yes, there is room available, 100,000 Lire with no bathroom, 150 with. I weigh my options and having not had a decent shower in days decide that I will pay extra for the luxury of a long shower.  new gemini
pantheon interior

After a shower and a change of clothing, I feel like a new woman. The feet at the pantheonconcierge even mentioned that he almost didn't recognize me. He tells me that bus #492 will take me almost anywhere I want to go and the hotel is located conveniently across the street from a major bus stop and metro station. So I buy I handful of tickets and hop on 492.

About 6 stops later, I see a sign pointing to the Pantheon. I get off but am side tracked by a sign advertising a cybercafe. Since I am unable to connect at the hotel, I think it a good plan to stop in and check my E-mail (5.000 for 1/2 hour.) Then, back on the trail to the Pantheon. they won't let me in because of the way I am dressed but I have a nice lunch (panini) at a cafe right in front of it where I may enjoy the exterior, anyway.lunch Then a stroll to the Piazza di Navona dominated by three very impressive Bernini fountains. Artists hang out here and I get a bad wrap from an ex-pat Jamaican named Mike who does a lousy job and charges too much. I pay it in a perhaps misguided effort to show my support for hairwrappers everywhere - but it is still a rip off.

The hours of sleep I have not been getting finally start to tell on me so it is back to bus 492 for a long ride to the hotel. I take a nap and prepare to head back out about 6 pm. Right about then I discover that I have been relieved of the major portion of my lire -- about $80 worth. I have no idea when or where this occurred but I suspect the bad wrapper as he was the only one close enough to me (that I can recall) to have possibly dipped his paws in my hip pouch. This is a bummer but it is only money, no?


This piazza features three stunning Bernini sculptures of massive adonis-like men. This photo does no justice to the sculpture but I thought it a rather nice composition...

bernini sculpture


Onward to the Campo di Fiori (Field of flowers) where the only flowers I can see are the ones they sell from a stand. This is supposed to be a great night scene so I find a likely cafe and have some small munchies and a little red wine and watch the people. By 10 pm I am ready to get back to the hotel so I hop the wrong bus and hop off again at a 492 stop. And then I wait. Buses come and buses go and still no 492. After waiting over an hour I start to worry that 492 is done for the night so I jump on 64 and ride it to Termini, the main station in Rome. It is now 11:30 and there are nothing but unsavory looking characters here and I have no idea how to get back to my room. I wander down to the metro but there is no one there which leads me to believe that they are done for the night as well. My only option appears to be a cab which obligingly takes me back to my hotel for the exorbitant fee of 50,000 - which is more than I paid to get all the way from Venice to Rome!

I fall asleep wondering why I am here and why I thought Rome was such a good idea.   

This is Bruno the heretic - burned at the stake in the 16th century for suggesting that Texas may not be at the center of the universe.

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