Thursday, 19 July 2012


17 June.

An audience with the Pope.
Yes, it was time to meet Benny boy.

Getting to the Vatican for 9am, a hyperactive mother wrested brother & I to drink as much holy water as humanly possible. Death by internal drowning. May point her in the direction of this article

The happy-clappy's were out in force, a 'halllejulah' there, a 'praise be to God' there. The cobbles were awash with flags, attempts at dancing and heck of a lot of individuals out of tune. They seemed happy enough.

I settled in the shade with my literature of choice. 50 Shades of Grey, naturally. At the Vatican what else would one read? Mother had kittens.

I perused the tack; Pope on a rope, nodding Pope, calendar of hottest preists of Rome (obviously bought this) that sort of paraphernalia. I notice the stall owners seem to have had their weekly bath, everyone seems positivly buoyant. I like it.

Strolling back to my fit-to-burst parent, I'm shocked at just how many people are there, all nationalities, languages, varying levels of good looking.

The clock strikes 12. The doors open and I'm deaf.

Now, it was very hot, he was speaking Italian, I was tired. His only sentence in English was 'the world is like a mustard seed'. Good on him for saying it in 6 languages though, clever chap.

Shopping. It's a must right? We dine on pizza and plonk at Nana Vini e Cucina, they had a ginger fragrance in the lavatories, nasal vim.

Breaking from the gruesome twosome (mother dropped her glasses, I scarpered) I set about ambulating. These were the champions:

La Rinascente - think House of Fraser. Nicer toilets.
Galleria alberto sordi – similar to Burlington Arcade, wolf whistle in pauper way.
Le group – Forever 21 but classier.
Altariva – Russell & Bromley. But better. Ignore the website.

Stock phrases:

Do you speak English? Parla Inglese?
How much? Quanto?
Credit card? (said an octave higher at the end, y'know, to indicate it's a question). Carta di Credito?
Expensive. Costoso!

Natural, no?

Met the duo and hiked up the Spanish Steps (not what it's cracked up to be) followed by gawping at the splendor of Via dei Condotti. A high-fash-gasm. 

The night ended with my watching football with some young ladies from the Netherlands, discussing the Jubilee. Peculiar.

Saturday, 14 July 2012


As I sit here listening to Sounds of the Sixties (the best 2 hours of radio in any given week in my opinion). I look back to my third day in Roma*

16 June

Hopped on a bus.

Sat next to an Australian lady who had deep vein thrombosis.

Turned out she lived close to an old school friend of mine. She adopted kangaroos who had been orphaned, touching. Not that I asked, but I was treated to a slide show of said roo's.

Before I left for Rome, I was showred with advice, tips and recommendations. Il gelato di san crispin popped into every email and converation, so I steered the gaggle to sample. No dissapointment. Bloody fantastic. I chose pistachio, ginger and cinnamon, a wicked combination. As in 'down with the kids 'cool' and a dieters devlish delight.

We dodged a few tourists (understatement) around Trevi and stepped into Santi Vicenzo e Anastasio a TreviConsidering it is merely a few metres from a throng of activity, it's a messianic and inobtrustive corner in an otherwise overcrowded spot.

Toddling back to the sweltering bus, we decided to take a look on the green route, the historic-rich catacombs tour. Kind of a snore.

Jam-packed day so far no?

Shuffled around the Basillica, shoulders covered, natch. Lost mother for 20 minutes (wanted poster fodder in the making)

When reunited she was charming some security officers into letting us in to mass. Man alive. It worked, and despite it being in italian, was very halcyon. However, this irked me to high heavens, if my nail sissors hadn't have been taken off me I'd have leant over to snip this rat tail off him. 


Being a Saturday night, & the air was getting hot (ta Whigfield) I was in the mood for a little jig. Heading to Trastevere, we found a square where those under 35 went, it was a hive of activity, sweeping along the river we perused the stalls and ate at a joint which was cheap as chips and can only be described as pulsing. 

I became tipsy merely on the atmosphere of the area (plus maybe a litre of plonk was involved), it was just so alive. If you want an entertaining, real night out, I'd recommend this area (around Via Della Lungaretta). However, I would not recommend wearing silk. One word, oil (see below).

In bed for 12, thrilling.

*I say Roma in homage to my Italian friend Mauro. Despite my best efforts, I could n'er get him to say Rome … as in gnome. 

Tuesday, 10 July 2012


15 June.

34 degrees.
I'm up with the lark. My new room-pals (brother/mother) are not.

Christopher Fry once noted 'I travel light, that is, as a man can travel who will still carry his body around because of its sentimental value'. Packing is a challenge for most, granted. With around 300 dresses to my name I tend to overthink my travels. Limited to Jet2's idea of hand luggage I was darn well impressed at my ability to fit 10 options in.

Grecian 'I'm so boho and casual' look acquired with minimal/maximum effort, I spritzed the last of my factor 50 on & braced myself for the day ahead.

As I head for the culture immersion a cry trills behind me. 'Tea Victoria, I need a cup of tea', I'd forgotten the relevancy for hot drinks, but Mother hadn't. Without learning any lessons from the night before we enter into a quite cafe. Armed with the word 'tea' what did we expect? Denby china perhaps? Portmeirion? In hindsight I'm not surprised she was given a thimbleful of peach iced tea. Icharrads was never our strong point. However I did discover an ice lolly that had replaced the wooden stick with a liquorce stalk. Kept me quiet for an hour.

Unsuitably refreshed we shimmied down to the hustle. Shooing away the silly men trying to sell you hats/umbrellas, we jumped aboard a hop-on, hop-off bus, the 101. Taking us from San Pietro to Via Barberini.

Taking on the role as pathfinder (self given title), sibling took us on a goose chase of the Panthenon. Along the misguided way we hit Piazza Navarro, Trevi, a strange protest about pensions, The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, ate a damned good pizza and toured the bleeding Colosseum before we found the P-dog.

Unknowingly making a miniture whistlestop tour of Rome, I'd hotty-spotted, learned the words hot and cold (caldo ... freddo) and walked for a solid 7 hours. Not too shabby.

note: my brother isn't blind.

I'm not a real fan of snaps. Snap however ... I'm pretty good at.

Unsure, s'nice 

My mother. The tourist.

There's a solider standing here at all times. Poor male.

I fell over whist taking this.


Sunday, 8 July 2012

Roman Holiday.

14 June.

Many happy returns of the day to myself.
Coffee date at 8.30am, check.
Beauty treatments, check.
Passport, check.

Chortle in the pharmacy? Check.

2pm flight, tick tick boom.


Greeted at the airport by a shabby looking, un-shaven/washed middle aged man who neither spoke English or posessed the the ability to drive. Still, he bore my name on a piece of card. I was happy enough with that*.

Jumped into his suprisingly modern BMW casual as you like, had a little bump on the way out, no bother. It's only when your driver is straddling the middle and outside lane whilst playing on his phone and seemingly playing chicken with every other road user that I found your nerves can get the better of you.

I'm no homing pigeon, but this chap wasn't either. I eneded up finding the hotel myself, yet paid him 5 euro more than quoted. I must've just been overjoyed that I remained unharmed.

Based on a busy street in the West of Rome (Domus Aurelia), we set about our relaxing jaunt with a nice gin & stroll around the foreign streets, relishing the warmer atmosphere.

A 15 minute ramble to the Vatican, Mother almost passed out with joy. Wittering on about Benedict, we eased her away to discover the Ponte Parione area, finding a Trattoria, cos we're really cultured. Course it was a great idea going to such a joint, considering not one of us can speak a word of Italian, understand a word of Italian, or read a word of Italian. As it turned out, the punt I took on my meal was victorious. Choosing Saltimbocca, I was presented with veal wrapped in parma ham and sage. Ironic as I'd thought my meal was a vegetarian dish and mother had specified one want/need only ... meat. Hers came in the form of plain pasta**.

With seriously delicious wine, a meal that translates as 'jump in your mouth and a buoyancy that comes with the first day of ones holiday, I felt a flutter of ebullience for the days ahead. 

We spotted this flag on the way, still no idea where it's from or why it's there ...

*I've always wanted to be picked up at the airport by sign. Stems from a lifetime of waiting around for those supposed to be picking me up being incessantly late. The record so far is 3 hours. I live 20 minutes from the bloody airport.

** I should've used this site for food-advice, clued up and amusing.