All roads indeed lead to Rome, but theirs also is a more mystical destination, some bourne of which no traveller knows the name, some city, they all seem to hint, even more eternal.
Richard Le Gallienne
I find that once I step foot onto a plane bound for Italy, the atmosphere of the flight changes. Maybe it’s my imagination, but I gather that the air is a little fuller, conversation a little louder, gesticulation much grander. The language’s music plays sonatas. I had enjoyed learning a lot of Dutch words, but being in an environment where I’ve stopped straining to understand is a relief. That’s not to say I’m not rusty; this trip comes at a good time for my language skills. But I guess it’s like riding a bike—and I had had a lot of practice doing that only a couple days before. 🙂
My arrival into Rome was late, and I didn’t get to the apartment until about 11. I was welcomed in, had a snack, watched some teen soap, went to bed. The next day, after a series of events that are not worth recounting but I assure you, dear reader, that if you had been a third party and witnessed the back and forth and searching that had transpired when my friend Amy and I tried to connect at Roma Termini, I phoneless, there would have been too much dramatic irony. Long story short, we both made it to Orvieto, albeit on different trains.
I only stayed in Orvieto for a few nights; I wanted to see Amy & Mike, who’s teaching there right now, and wanted to touch base with my “family” over there. We went to Florence with the program on Friday and got to see the David at the Accademia, as well as an impressive Etruscan collection at the archaeological museum, which apparently had been closed last time I was in Florence. Although I had seen the David twice before, he really is quite something. The light and the grandeur strikes you as you walk into the gallery designed especially to display him. Plus, you know, he’s hot and stuff. 😉
We managed to eat lunch at a trattoria where the servers didn’t even speak English and the only other people who were eating while we did were Italian. We were pretty proud of ourselves for avoiding a totally overpriced tourist trap restaurant, especially for Amy’s first proper meal in Italy ever. Fresh spaghetti with carbonara was on my plate, while Mike got the arrabbiata and Amy a risotto with pear and taleggio.
The evening promised Pizzeria Charlie, which has moved recently to a much larger space (for those of you who know what I’m talking about, it’s not where Re Artu used to be, back by Piazza della Reppublica).
To market Amy and I went to the next day, and I bought my first pair of white linen pants! I don’t know if I’ll be able to pull them off, but I certainly am excited to try. I bought fresh arugula, some bread, and had mozzarella di bufala for lunch, and we lounged at the apartment, enjoying each other’s company and reading.
While on the reading note, I have to peddle my all-time favorite book about Italy (and, perhaps, perhaps, my all-time favorite book, period): A Room With a View by E.M. Forster. I found it for free on my Kindle before I left the States, and decided it was a good book to have in any case. Re-reading it in Italy, especially after jaunting to Florence for a day, is a treat. I had forgotten the nuances of Forster’s voice, and his gentle humor. There are so many life lessons and truths in that book, and I enjoyed using the Kindle highlighting feature. No need to fear, luddites: my hard copy at home is similarly highlighted, in real ink.
Saturday night we enjoyed a dinner at the library of Orvieto—a fundraiser and celebration of the new children’s room opening. Buffet lines in Italy are comical. Italians refuse to taint the virtue of their courses by using the same plate for everything. Buffets simply don’t do. We didn’t mind piling pasta atop bruschette and grilled vegetables. Most of the Italians, however, either got separate plates for their pasta or skipped it altogether, horrified at the idea that the taste of a primo piatto could be marred by oil from a crostino, or worse, the vinegar from the salad. Luckily, the restaurant thought of plastic plates for dessert, so everyone also enjoyed something sweet.
And now, after a train ride and a moto ride, I am back in Rome. Home base. My computer is having some connectivity issues, so I apologize for any delays in posting. I’ll sort it out eventually. I’ll be here, save a few day trips, until July, at which point I venture to Greece to encounter heroes real and mythical.