Italy retro-diary: day 4

Our last day in Rome, so we had to get an early start. The breakfast server beamed as I finally got our room number pronunciation comprehensible. There wasn’t any really fresh bread (it was Sunday), but we were still adjusting to eating restaurant meals every day anyway. We dropped our bags at the bag-dropping room (they were obviously prepared for tourists) and walked, yet again, to the Termini. This time we wanted to try the subway system. We had more-or-less figured out how tickets work from when we did the Leonardo Express incorrectly, but finding the correct line to go on was more of a challenge. This may sound unlikely, as there are only two lines: orange (line A) and blue (line B). The problem exists in that on the orange line there are only blue signs, and on the blue line there are only orange signs. That is, when you get somewhere, they only tell you where to go and not where you are. Despite Roman city planning, we went to Barberini.

To see some funky monks, or their artwork at least. The Capuchin monks glued a few thousand human bones to the walls of their catacomb at Santa Maria della Concezione. A picture would explain everything. No pictures were allowed, but hopefully Sara will post the postcard.

While we were there, we tried to find the church Santa Maria della Vittoria. (Sidenote: if you see a church in Rome and you want to look smart, point at it and say “Santa Maria”. You’re more than likely to be correct.) We wanted to go there because Sara was ahead of me in reading “Angels and Demons”, a guide book in thriller form that was recommended to us. Lamentably our ambivalence about the famous sculpture there was thwarted because, it being Sunday, the church was busy. The Triton fountain next door garnered rave reviews from, well, everyone, but it wasn’t much to look at.

Santa Maria della Vittoria full of congregationTriton Fountain full of water

Back on the underground to Termini. Switch lines to blue or orange or whatever. Fend off my second pickpocket (who gave me an intense indignant stare when I hustled her away—the locals made sure I checked for my wallet, although it took a few minutes to work out the translation). Then we burst out back at the Colloseum.

Rome’s tourist board cleverly combined the Colloseum ticket with free entrance the following morning to the Roman Forum next door. I’m sure the old palace grounds are very interesting and historical. They’re also somewhat ancient and run-down. They look something like this, and you’re not missing much if this picture doesn’t give you goose-bumps.

The Roman Forum, once the most politically important seat in the world.  Now full of archeologists.

So we headed back to Termini and jumped on the Archeobus. This is an open-top bus that takes a leisurely tour through the “historical” region of Rome. This is a kind of green-belt area full of ruins, catacombs, and tour guides engaging in serious relationships with bus drivers because there’s not a lot of excitement around. Worth seeing, if only for the aquaduct, but we ended up rather cold after three hours of driving up and down the Appian Way.

Our Archeobus
It turns out that, no, I couldn't eat an entire 14-mile aquaduct.

Back at the Termini, we caught a taxi to the hotel for our bags, brought them back to the station, thought about eating more Italian fast food but reasoned that McDonalds was better. Luckily, the cellphone store distracted me from philosophizing about this too much. We were heading off to Bologna by train. It took about three comfy hours sat at a neat folding table. I finished my book (“Lost in a good book”, Jasper Fford, recommended). There was some confusion about where to sit, because the seats were numbered in random order and nobody nearby spoke English. We weren’t the only ones confused, because someone got on and tried to claim a seat, but his ticket was for the day before. We hopped on the shuttle to Bologna airport, and Sara drove us out of the parking structure basement in our rental car. At this point, I think I can best illustrate what happened next by showing you the cover of the map we bought of Bologna.

Probably the most appropriate map cover ever
It was dark. The streets were very narrow. All the one-way signs pointed away. Our hotel, glimpsed fleetingly from a nearby one-way street, looked pretty scary. We never found it again. Tired or driving in circles and polygons for hours, we gave up and drove in a convenient direction, found a freeway, and eventually the Hotel Zola. Even better, it had parking. Remarkably, there was a restaurant attached. Astoundingly, the restaurant was open late. Astonishingly, the restaurant had a family-chitzy theme. Impossibly, it even had a bald lounge singer. Aside from not being able to figure out how to flush the toilet, it was a happy end to a busy day.

0 Responses to “Italy retro-diary: day 4”

  1. No Comments

Leave a Reply