Friday, December 12, 2008

Rome

"That's how people talk in Italy, Jerry - they sing to each other."

- Kramer, Seinfield

Sometimes, I think Claire's right and I am letting the best bits of travel pass me by. 

I've been seeing some really great things in the past few days. I never thought I'd see Raphael's School of Athens, or the Sistine Chapel. I never thought I'd walk through the ruins of the Roman Forum. I never thought I'd ever see the Pope. These are all fine things, but then you're on a crowded bus and you're peeking over a girl's shoulder at the SMS she's writing, and you start to think that there's more to the city than what happened a thousand years ago. 

And if you pay it the attention it deserves, you do start to notice things. 

When you walk across the road, it's like an elaborate game of chicken. The cars don't stop for you; you've got to make that first step on your own. The cars don't slow down for you; you've got to keep walking at trust that they'll slow down and let you pass. But at least they don't honk at you if you're jaywalking, or straying too far from the kerb; it's all part of the give and take of life here. 

Pizzerias in Rome bake in metre-long slabs and prices are charged by the kilo. In Naples, pizzas are individualised and made with care; in Rome, they've become another victim in onslaught by industrialised fast food. They sell jumbo-sized salamis, as thick as a man's waist. And there's this obsession with Nutella - I came across a bar with its window space full of Nutella jars, and I had a Nutella gelati (which was delicious). 

They are so freaked out about internet security here that I have to login in my passport number everytime I use the internet. At other places, they restrict access to certain times of the day, or direct you to a local internet cafe. And yet, I beeped when I walked through a metal detector at the Campi Museum, and the guards waved me through. 

At the Santa Mara Maggiore Cathedral, they were having the evening mass in a chapel on the side. I sat in the main hall listening to the words, and like Kramer said, they really do sing to one another. There was one guy bending for confession - he had his luggage next to him and had obviously come straight from a trip - and I figured he must've had one juicy confession on his hands. And it's all in a building that's 500 years old and still a living part of that community. 

And we saw a mechanic washing down the walls of his garage with a hose, and leaving the car untouched. That was just strange. 

I'm thinking that if I had more time, I should camp in Rome or Naples for a while and really get to know it. I'm worried about being run over (the game of chicken always ends in tears) and I dread that slippery feeling of stepping in dog shit, but still, I like it here.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

It sounds like you are having a nice time.

You know, you have been travelling a long time. Maybe staying in a place a bit longer may help. Anyway, I guess it is up to you. The touristy thing I sure gets tired after a while.

take care

Your brother

Connolly's agent said...

Oh, you know, there's worse alternatives to wandering around Europe. I know it's something I'll never have again, so it's good to have it now.