We got up at a time where eating cereal was actually appropriate, which was par for the course for EZ, but for me was a source of great pride and sense of accomplishment. Over breakfast we laid out our plan for the day, of course optimized to avoid backtracking of taking an inefficient route – I may be wild and free in my unemployment, but I am still me.
We stopped for a quick cappuccino at a tabaccchi, one of the hundreds of little places dotting Rome where you can buy cigarettes, gelato, coffee, lottery tickets, or pizza. Imagine a 7-11 with one tenth of the size and ten times the charm. Plus gelato.
Properly fueled, we set off on a half hour walk down the Tiber River to the Protestant Cemetery of Rome. I have been here once before, and it is probably my favorite place to visit in Rome. It is beautiful, inspiring, and – thankfully – almost always empty. As an added bonus, there is a small cat sanctuary housed at one end of the premises.
The cemetery houses my favorite piece of art, anywhere, ever – the Angel of Grief tombstone that sits atop of the grave of William Story and his wife. He completed the sculpture as a tribute to his wife, and died shortly thereafter.
We then hopped on the Metro for the relatively short trip to the Colosseum. At this point walking was losing some of its charm, and since we were staying far away from any Metro stops, it gave us a chance to use it just on principle. The trains and the station were nothing particularly noteworthy, although it is worth mentioning that this particular stop was playing music over speakers on the platform, and said music transitioned directly from Vivaldi to a cover of the B-52’s “Rock Lobster”. If the transition in songs wasn’t weird enough, the fact that it was a cover made it that much more surreal.
Lunch was an expectedly disappointing affair at a café outside the metro station near the Colosseum. When you’re getting your food from a train station, you have low expectations, and they did not surpass them. The prices were borderline insulting given the quality, but in an area dominated by ruins, there were no other eateries within sight, and like I said, walking was getting old. Plus, it was hot as balls out there.
After cooling off and recharging at the flat, we set out for a sushi restaurant that, as it turns out, was about four miles away from where Google Maps said it was, which was a super awesome development at this point in the day. We settled for a Chinese place near the apartment. The décor was typical Chinese but somehow nicer, and the menu was standard.
We were initially greeted by a rather large Chinese man-child who appeared a bit off. He mumbled something that was unintelligible but seemed to imply he was taking our drink order. The order was Coke and an iced tea, which he repeated as “Sprite and iced tea”, and thus delivered erroneously. When I added we would like a couple of the starters, he violently waved us off like a boxing referee calling off a fight, and pointed to a waitress standing in the corner. She then came over to take our appetizer order, to be followed, naturally, by the man-child bringing our starters and serving them directly on to our plates in halves. After serving, he stood there and glared at us for an uncomfortable ten seconds, then finally grumbles something about taking our order. Wait. So the guy that reacted to my appetizer order like I was about to show him autopsy photos was now in charge of our entrée order? Whatever. I got the sweet and sour chicken (I know, trite) and EZ got the orange duck.
It was fun to watch EZ react to the duck, when it arrived. I can tell she had spent too much time around me when she started to sarcastically criticize the food. Normally quiet, reserved, and exceedingly proper, she was now sniping “Now I know why it’s only five Euros… they didn’t do anything to it… I mean, the bone is still in there… how the hell am I supposed to eat this thing?” Ah, that’s my girl. Her exasperated sighs with each new piece of the duck she attempted to eat were icing on the cake.
On the way out for our nighttime walk to see the Trevi Fountain, we stopped in for a dessert gelato. The gentleman behind the counter clearly saw serving gelato as his life’s passion, and an art form. He was sincerely enthusiastic about taking our order, sounded inspired and ecstatic at the flavor combinations we chose, and sculpted each cup of gelato with his spatula like he was Michaelangelo putting the finishing touches on David. He actually held the cup up over his head, in the light, before putting in the second flavor, to ensure it was progressing as he had hoped. He then finished his work and delicately handed us his creations – I almost felt guilty eating it.
Delicious edible art in hand, we walked the circuit of central Rome treasures before, for some reason, deciding to stop at Campo de Fiori again for a nightcap. We are both intrigued by the mozzarella bar located there, but our collective aversion to the atmosphere at Campo might prevent us from trying it out.
Back to the flat to wait for the portable air conditioner to get the room back to sleep-able levels, and one more beer to end the day. We will sleep well on this night.