It’s my second trip to Rome and I am eager to share the experience with my friend, William (aka “Sweet Willy” because he’s just so darn cute). We arrive at the Roma Termini station and walk about 15 minutes to our hotel. As we are walking:
William: Did you just see that car?
William: The General Lee Smart Car…did you just see that?
Me: I have no idea what you are talking about. I’m looking at hotel signs.
William: We have to go back so I can take a picture because nobody will believe this.
*we walk back to take the picture*
William: That’s nice. An eco-friendly racist.
Me: Really Rome? That’s what’s hot in the streets? Did we just time travel to the mid-80s? Bo & Luke can’t jump into a little ass Smart Car. Cooter doesn’t know how to fix this! He’s got 3 wrenches and an oil can. Did Daisy give up the Jeep and start taking public transportation? Uncle Jesse and I can’t take all this. It’s too much.
We finally leave the Italian General Lee and find our hotel. Upon check-in, I ask if we can store our bags the next day while we are sightseeing.
Me: Can we store our bags after we check-out in the morning?
Buddy: For how long?
Me: Just a few hours.
Desk Clerk: How many bags do you have?
Me: [thinking *Man, what is the problem? You can either store the bags or not. Isn’t that standard service at a hotel?* but New Nikki responded] 4
Desk Clerk: *long sigh & acting put upon* I guess
Me & William: *side-eye*
After we get settled in the room, we decide not to go out since we needed to be up early to do a lot of sightseeing. So, William does some work and I turn on the tv and see this program called “Il Canto”. Y’all ain’t ready for Il Canto. It’s like American Idol + America’s Got Talent + So You Think You Can Dance + Top Chef + Project Runway + The Bachelor. The program is like 6 hours long with people of all ages, group sings, dancing, judging, and guest appearances. I still don’t know what it was. There was this kid who looked to be maybe 12 and I think he won his part of the singing competition (but who knows because it was like he was there in concert or something). You could not tell him that he wasn’t a star. He had hand gestures, facial expressions and teeth spaced about an inch apart.
Me: Wow, I can’t take it. He is doing runs like he’s Mariah.
William: You know he just got beat up backstage.
William: Too nerdy. He can sing…but once he leaves the stage, Giuseppe is waiting there with the beat down to take his lunch money. If he was in NY, they would just roll up on you like, “yo son, that’s a nice coat. What size is that? A small? Really? That’s just my size. You can give it to me or I’ma take it. It’s on you, B.”
A little later:
Me: Did that little girl just sing an R. Kelly song?
William: You can’t keep Kells down. I wonder what the legal age of consent is here?
Then, we decided to make-up translations to the interviews since we couldn’t understand what they were saying. When the host was interviewing a sound guy after some little kid did a horrible rendition of Aretha’s “RESPECT”, we translated it as follows:
Me (as the host, Bruno): Silvio, what did you think of little Pashmina singing “RESPECT”. Did you find out what it meant to her? And, did she take out the ECT?
William (as the sound guy, Silvio): Bruno, she sucked. And, this show has run into my overtime so you know you are paying me time and a half, right? This ain’t a telethon.
Me: Silv, don’t worry about the OT. Clearly you need the money because those skinny pink jeans ain’t doing you no favors. Now get back on the soundboard and make sure my mic sounds nice.
After two hours of Il Canto, the Sleep Monster got us and it was a wrap.
We get up, have breakfast and check-out to start our self-guided “Rome in a Day” power sightseeing tour. We start off by going to The Forum and see a guy dressed up as a Trojan.
William: Where are Trojans from?
The Trojan asks if we want to take a picture so we oblige…
…then, as William is pulling out some coins to tip, Mr. Trojan was like, “That’s gonna be €10.” After looking startled, we realized we just got hustled. By a man in a costume. Chuck E Cheese doesn’t charge you for pictures! Of course, Chuck just walks around leering at you so I guess you have to pick your poison. Yes, I have issues with Chuck. Don’t judge me 🙂
It’s the start of the day and we are trying to be positive. We pay for the Roma Pass (which is a smart buy for sightseeing in Rome) then pick up an audio guide and a map. The Roman Forum really is spectacular with all the ancient remnants. However, it only has fragments of buildings & statues so it’s hard to know what is what. The map was even more confusing. The numbers didn’t correspond to the information boards outside some of the sites. Then, we attempted to use the audio guide.
William: I think we are at site 7.
Me: Okay, push play and let’s see.
[The audio guide has a British man giving a 20 minute soliloquy about columns and statues and if you look into the sun you can see Caesar or something we cannot find for the life of us. It almost felt like we had a learning disability because the sites are numbered so any 2-year-old should be able to do this.]
William: What is he talking about?
Me: I don’t know. I thought you knew.
William: No! And, he is still talking. It’s been what? 45 minutes? Why can’t he just give an executive summary and say, “to your left is an arch, now turn your ass around and walk?”
Me: Really? That’s how they do in New York? You have ADD.
In the end, we used Rick Steve’s Italy guidebook and just took pictures. The Roman Forum was ancient Rome’s birthplace and civic center. This was the place where anything important happened in ancient Rome.
After walking thru The Forum, we head over to Palantine Hill. This is where the emperors chose to live and it was once filled with palaces. It includes the “huts of Romulus and Remus”, the Imperial Palace, the House of Livia and Augustus and a view of Circus Maximus.
William: Are those olive trees?
Me: Looks like it but I don’t know.
William goes to pull an “olive” off the tree. Meanwhile, I see Woodrow (Petey the Pigeon’s cousin) picking at food on the ground and he passes right over the “olive”. Of course, he is getting the side-eye because I haven’t forgotten what Petey did yesterday in Florence.
Me: Uh, did you just see that pigeon take a bite of one of those “olives” and leave it right there on the ground? Don’t eat that.
William: Why not? I’ll wash it off. You gotta build up your immune system.
Me: Really? You need to follow Woodrow’s lead and keep it moving.
Then, he notices citrus trees that seem to have some sort of fruit like oranges hanging from it. But, as none of it is hanging low enough for him to get, William has to content himself with the “olive”.
William: This could keep me from getting scavies.
Me: What the hell is scavies? A new hybrid flu of rabies and scurvy?
William takes a bite of the “olive” and discovers that it may not actually be an olive but it’s too nasty to figure out.
Me: See? Did I not just tell you that Woodrow was even like, “I’ll pass”.
We leave Palantine Hill and make our way to the Colosseum.
The Colosseum is a 2,000 year old building where ancient Romans used to watch gladiators, criminals and wild animals fight to the death. And, it is one of the most beautiful structures in the world. I could just sit and stare at it all day. The first time I saw it, I was overwhelmed…imagine being in a place where people walked thousands of years ago!
Outside the Colosseum, there are “tour guides” prowling around trying to sell you on purchasing some of their time to walk you around and tell you the true little known “facts” about the site. Since we had already been hustled once that day, we decided to pass and read what Rick had to say.
As we are walking around, we can overhear other tour guides and it occurs to us that we could do this as a side business too.
William: You know, we could set up our own tour company and give them the “real” experience.
Me: Yeah, we just need to market it right.
William: We’ll just be like, “yo son…you wanna know the real deal of why Caesar got shanked?” And, “This right here is where Jesus told everybody to get their souls right.”
Me: Really? We still doing the NY state of mind right now? And, what are you going to do when you get Mr. I Know My History fact checking you?
William: Throw him off the tour. I’ll just say “Were you there? You don’t know me. I’m a descendant of Caesar. He was my great, great, great to the 20th power granddaddy so shut up.”
William: *ignoring the crickets* We can get on the computer and create some tour guide certifications. Tell them that we majored in “tourification” and we aren’t just some random tour guides off the streets.
Me: So now we are “tourologists”? How many of those olives did you eat? Is this the scavies talking? Does it cause dementia?
William: We could even take them into the basement of the Colosseum.
Me: The basement? You mean the ground floor where they kept the folks that were about to killed by animals? That’s closed off.
William: Exactly. That’s gonna make our tour hot. It’s rogue…going where nobody can go.
Me: Uh huh. That tour will last 30 seconds.
As we are walking around, we come up with a scheme to offer to take people’s pictures for them so they will take pictures of us.
Me: Maybe after we take their picture, we tell them it’s €10. Get our hustle on like the Trojan guy.
William: I wonder what he does for “Take Your Daughter to Work Day”.
Me: Probably has her out there hustling too.
As we leave the Colosseum, I am focused on getting back to the entrance to The Forum so I can get my passport back since I left it to secure the audio guide device. Now, William is all laissez-faire about this as it wasn’t his passport. He offered up job ideas should I not be able to get back to the U.S. (William: That tour guide idea is hot.). We get turned around and I’m looking at the map trying to find the entrance. As we start walking to the entrance, we come across these “mimes” that paint themselves up and stay as still as a statue. Some are better than others. This guy was great!
A couple of meters away from him, we see a duo performing.
William: Are those Native Americans?
Me: Uh, I see the feathers on the headdress and I hear the music but I don’t think the Romans stole this from them too.
William: I’m confused. Why are they here?
William: Are they selling cds?
Me: Everybody got a hustle. Maybe they are signed to Black Widow Records in Genoa???
We finally get to the entrance of The Forum and as they give me back the passport, I realize that it wasn’t even mine. It was William’s. HAHAHAHAHA. Apparently, we inadvertently switched passports when they were returned to us at the hotel.
Me: So who is being a mime on the street when they can’t get back to the states now?
William: You could’ve done tours.
Me: Well, you know Atlanta is the #1 tourist city in the U.S.
William: Get out. Where did you get that statistic from?
Me: GET OFF MY TOUR! YOU DON’T KNOW ME! YOU AIN’T A TOUROLOGIST! WHERE ARE YOUR PAPERS? YOU GOT THAT TOURIFICATION CERTIFICATE? NO? THEN YOU LEAVE THE STATS TO THE PROFESSIONALS.
William: You need serious help.
By this time, we are headed towards the Pantheon.
Once we arrive, we see non-Italian ethnic groups selling purses and scarves.
William: You think that is real Prada?
Me: Is the Prada on Canal Street real?
We go inside the Pantheon, look around and take pictures. Now it’s time for a gelato break. Which must occur every few hours or you can get low blood sugar 🙂 After getting my gelato, we walk toward the Trevi Fountain. People throw coins into the fountain to guarantee a return visit. The coins are collected to feed Rome’s poor.
Then, it was on to the Spanish Steps.
After leaving the Spanish Steps, we walk around the posh shopping district and window shop. Then we come upon a guy selling nuts…13 for €5.
William: €5 for 13 nuts with some salt sprinkled on them? Are they serious? I can get that at home for $1.50.
Me: These are special Roman nuts. You don’t know ‘bout them, son. They may be like Red Bull and give you wings.
At this point, we are completely exhausted and have to climb 1400 steps to walk back to the hotel. We end up stopping by St. Peter in Chains Basilica since we didn’t make it to Vatican City. That was another 1000 steps to climb. St Peter’s in Chains is where they keep the chains that were used on Peter during his incarceration.
It also hosts Michelangelo’s sculpture of Moses.
On the way back, there was a guy playing typical Italian songs the accordion. William wanted to get a picture with him.
William: Uh, he smelled heavily of liquor.
Me: That’s how rock stars do. They have to get lit up to rock the stage…or in this instance, the steps.
Afterwards, we go to the hotel to get our bags…which were sitting in the hallway. What kind of security system is that? No id, just sitting out for anybody to take. We were lucky they were there. The desk clerk is still getting the side-eye as I type this.
Sweet Willy and I are so tired by this point, we suck it up and decide to pay for a taxi to the train station for our 4 hour ride back to Genoa.
Overall, it was a jam-packed weekend but we had a great time and got to see a lot. Special thanks to Sweet Willy for flying all the way out to Italy for the weekend to keep me company and hang out in the IT. I had a blast!