Arrivederci, Roma

Even under regular circumstances, I talk to myself far more than is normal (assuming that there is a "normal" amount of talking to oneself), but traveling alone for days on end maybe amped it up a bit?

On my way out of Rome, I had to first make my way through Trastevere, which is comprised almost entirely of cobbled streets. Clumpety-clumpety-clumpety, I wheeled my suitcase joltingly behind me and had this little conversation. Aloud.
I'm so sorry, suitcase. No American is ever really prepared for cobbled streets. [pause] Of course, you're from China, so it's possible that you don't understand a word I'm saying.

Ah, yes.

And then I went to Florence for another whole seven days, but I tried to keep the suitcase chatting to a minimum.

Arrivederci, Roma. Piacere.


If my perfect Roman apartment had a favorite restaurant, this would be it.
Caffè Propaganda, I am in love with you. Say you miss me.

Foolishly, I neglected to take a picture of the restaurant (though I did take a picture of my dinner), but other people were not so remiss.

You should click on this one to see all of it. In fact, I insist.
It's is from here.

See that high table by the door? I sat right there. Quite near the charming hostess and within easy ogling distance of the gorgeous bar.
This one is from here, which is a very useful website, indeed.

After a tiresome/worrying delay waiting for the #87 bus, I only just made it before they stopped serving dinner, but the hostess, who was extremely charming (and beautiful and wearing very tall shoes that seemed not to give her the slightest trouble), took pity on me. I had Prosecco, green salad, and pasta della Nona, followed by Marco Polo tea from Mariage Frères, which is my very favorite tea. They were puzzled why I would be ordering tea at 11pm, but they still served it with fetchingly mismatched china, including a tall, long-spouted pot painted with flowers and lovers of yesteryear.
On the whole, I was dizzy with happiness. Upon my departure, I thanked the hostess very effusively for being so kind and we clutched each other's hands and beamed at each other dazzlingly as though we had shared some experience rather more bonding than a dinner which only one of us ate.

I could look at pictures of Caffè Propaganda all day long. In fact, I sometimes do. If you think we may have this in common, prego; here are lots.


I'm going to tell you a dark secret. Please keep it to yourself. I wish I had not even gone to the Vatican Museum. I know. Shhhh. Believe me, I feel quite guilty about this, but it was just way, way too crowded for me. And hot, of course. I think it is what Coachella must be like, only with sculpture instead of music and no freedom to just sort of give up on the whole thing. Why? Because you are penned in on all sides by tour groups from 18 countries. Seriously, no matter how magnificent the spectacle, at no point do I want to be so close to hundreds of strangers that the overriding odor is not sweat, which, of course, was in abundant supply, but halitosis.

I felt horrible that I wasn't filled with awe. I tried very hard to be filled with awe, but by the time I got to the Sistine Chapel I was almost desperate to get out. I find this in my journal, "Catholic treasures, I'm sorry I couldn't better admire you. The Lord made too many people."

Still, it is quite amazing to be at the site of so much history, even if your overriding emotion is not one that Jesus advocated.

Here are some things I had room to enjoy:
If I happen to be in Rome some February, I'll go back and try again.


From my journal July 17, 2012

4pm. Galleria Borghese.
I am nearly dead. I feel that Rick Steves must be some kind of superhero that he thinks it is sensible to walk here from anywhere, really. It's just too hot. And too far. I intended to take a bus from Largo Argentia, but weirdly both sides of the street seemed to feature buses going the wrong way. I asked a guy where to get the bus to Tritone and he told me I should just walk.

So I did, mais ce n'est pas evident du tout since everything involves piazzas and it's very hard to figure out where streets actually go. Plus, I have one of those hotel-style maps which involve the bare minimum of streets. And then there's the sign thing they do here--for these major tourist sites, they will have a small sign with an arrow on a major street, after which I guess they figure you'll just intuit your way through the twisting cobbled streets to find it. Perhaps several signs? Just an idea. In any case, I did finally happen upon the Pantheon, which has an opening at the top through which sun streams in. It's quite impressive. Then, by some miracle, I found the Trevi Fountain. And there it was being famous. And there I was seeing it. I made a wish.

From there, it is a significant walk to get here. It's strange to walk up what is basically the Champs Elysees of Rome (complete with Harry's Bar) while sweating profusely and feeling like an almost-bursting tomato. I'm not quite as bella as I imagined I'd be. Meanwhile, actual Romans look sexy all the time. They appear not to sweat.


The Galleria Borghese proved to be filled with breathtaking pieces. That Bernini knew a thing or two about sculpture, as it turns out. Also, I'd say, a thing or two about human emotion. You know who else was no slouch? Caravaggio. Si. È vero.

God bless whoever came up with the reservation system so that only 350 people are allowed in for a two-hour period. This allows you the physical space to actually see things and (dare I be terribly Californian about the whole thing?) the psychic space to actually feel something about what you're seeing. Ahem. I'm looking at you, Vatican Museum.

Also, as a bonus for small-breasted, very white, round-stomached women such as myself, a trip to the Borghese leaves you feeling that it's not so much that you're out of shape, it's more that you're out of step with the current ideals of, say, fitness-obsessed San Francisco. You are classical in form. Indeed, you would have probably been quite the dream girl of the 1600's.


During the first two days of my stay in the magical apartment, the building's front door was being reinstalled, which is to say, there was no front door. In the evenings, the workmen would stretch a kind of plasticy mesh thing over the doorway, mostly nailed in place. This meant that there was not a very large opening through which to come and go. Going out, I was obliged to sort of crouch down and burst forth into the busy pedestrian street: ta da! It was dramatic. I'll give it that. Coming home at night, it was a stealthier maneuver. Walking down the street, walking down the street, lift corner of netting, and pow! disappear. It was like being on the lam. On the whole, I enjoyed it.

I mention this mostly to prove that I did actually go out from time to time. I went to the Colisseum, which was quite awe-inspiring and I had a very lovely guide and learned interesting ancient facts. Guess what? I'm not going to tell you anything about it. You can go there; it will be better that way. You're welcome. Several times during the tour, I was pretty sure I was going to faint, though, happily, I never did. Eat before you go. Take water. Wear a hat. (I did wear a hat, though I failed on the other two fronts. However, had I not been wearing the hat, I might currently be dead.)