Today I thought I'd pass along this article about pollution - and the (temporary) Italian solution. Though to be honest I haven't noticed any smog myself I do trust the experts and I'm all for a greener commute. In fact, this one didn't really impact me as I almost always walk to and from work but I'm sure it made life complicated for others. I hope the strategy works in the end!
Whew! Posting something every day is officially crazy. I'm still on track to blog every day for a month, but then I might go back to a more reasonable schedule. Unless my life gets way more exciting.
Today's snapshot is from the ever pleasant Villa Borghese park. I just love parks - as I may have mentioned in my post about visiting Germany - but this park in particular is so beautiful and low key at the same time that it never feels like a tourist trap or a snobby 'no dogs allowed' garden. There are always tons of families out*, occasionally exercising, but much more often just having fun. If Italians do one thing to perfection, it's relaxation. When I leave, this park will be one of my favorite Rome memories I'm sure.
*this picture is from a quieter corner but there were plenty of people elsewhere as I recall
Spotted at the park today - another reason why I like it here so much. The high today was in the sixties, yet everyone was bundled up in their boots, scarves and big puffy coats. There were mittens and even a solid number of wool hats with little ear flaps. Yes, this is a country full of people like me*.
*Unlike Serbia where I would always stand out for wearing gloves - even if it was sleeting. Serbia is a country full of people that eat people like me for breakfast.
Or maybe not so happy, depending on your level of household grocery crisis...as I have recently discovered, Italian grocery stores tend not to open the day after Christmas. Thank goodness for the resident immigrant community and their holiday-be-damned capitalism. Way to go migrants! It would have been a hungry day without you.
If you've been to Rome before then you've probably seen these little guys on street corners. It's not a hydrant, it's a nasone or "big nose". In fact it's a free and very convenient source of potable (drinkable) water. Either fill your water bottle from the continuously running spout or plug the bottom of the spout with the palm of your hand and water will shoot out the hole at the top of the spout, making a sort of drinking fountain. Word to the wise - you will get soaked trying to use this since it's hard to control the water flow. But it is kind of fun and certainly a life saver in a city where drinking fountains, even in public buildings are non-existent. (Speaking of, that's one thing that I've come to appreciate about the US - the assumption that everybody has a right to drinking water at all times. I can't count the number of times in Italian airports, museums, and other public buildings I have been desperately thirsty because it didn't occur to me that I needed to bring a water bottle along to an indoor activity. So plan ahead if you're coming to visit! Either bring lots of small cash to buy drinks everywhere or a reusable water bottle so you can experience the nasone.)
For weeks now the stores have been full of piles of imposing looking boxes (really, they're the size of your head) of a mysterious Italian holiday favorite known as Panettone. Someone translated it for me as fruitcake, which may explain why I never could bring myself to try any before. That and my overall disappointment with what Italians think cookies etc. should taste like. That's a story for another day though. Today, I wanted to share my adventures with Panettoncino - the little tiny version of the stuff they sell at the grocery store. I figured one serving wouldn't kill me, even if it did turn out to be fruitcake. And look how cute the packaging is!
Turns out, the Panettoncino was delicious (no fruitcake!) and I now regret passing up the chance to buy one the size of my head.
... Maybe tomorrow...
Kind of cupcake-y, but lighter and not painfully sweet.
This one is actually the only picture I took while in London last week. Think it sums up my feeling that London was a little crazy and overwhelming nicely. Though, to be fair, Rome would be pretty overwhelming too if I only ever saw the tourist center. Next time I travel I'll have to take some time to get off the beaten path.
At the MAXXI (Museum of 21st century art)
It was supposed to have tons of architectural exhibits - and you know how much I like architecture - but it tuned out to be mostly one big exhibit about urban planning and the ensuing social protests in Istanbul. Still fascinating, but not quite what I paid for. I'd recommend the museum if you generally like modern art and are in town for the long term but I wouldn't add it to your 1-week tourist itinerary.
Evidence that it's entirely possible to forget how crazy your life is sometimes - I have casually happened across the Trevi fountain three times in the past month on my way to dinner/meetings/shopping. Every time I barely gave it a second glance, always telling myself I'll have two years to actually stop and look. But no more! New rule : stop and smell the roses/enjoy the fountains.
Please enjoy, for no reason at all, the truly unique packing job I discovered when my HHE arrived.
Yes. This is exactly the most efficient use of 50 pounds of paper and an entire roll of packing tape. I salute you. Just wheeling the bike into the shipping container would have been ridiculous, obviously.
Alright folks, I'm trying something new. Writing exclusively about my travels seems a bit unsustainable - now that I'm back from London I have every intention to just hibernate here in Rome for the rest of the winter. After all, people pay good money for a few days in Rome, - I can vacation here every weekend!
So to kick things off I thought I'd try to post a tiny bit more often... Maybe to the tune of once-a-day though we'll see how long that lasts. ;)
Photo #1: the bus - I like the bus and increasingly manage to use it successfully. My only beef is that you can't get a bus ticket on the actual bus. No, you buy them at news stands inconveniently placed without any thought to where the bus happens to stop. Other than that though, public transportation for the win!