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So I have a countdown clock on my desktop (well one of them anyway – I have two monitors because I’m I.T., I’m greedy and I can). Constantly all day it is counting away. It currently says:

Time to Roma > 07:52:48

Yes. I finish work at 5 tonight, go home, pack up my troubles in my old kit bag and smile… smile… smile…

Then I eat, watch something quick on TV and crash at around 8pm. This should be interesting. I have to have run a marathon or something in order to wear myself out enough to crash around midnight normally, so I foresee lots of grumbling and lying awake staring at the ceiling. But we need the few hours sleep as we have to take a train in the wee hours of the morning to Manchester airport in order to get our early morning flight to…

you guessed it… ROME!

Being a trained and devoted Roman historian (see the ad on the right for my website) I have always had a thing for cities with a solidly Roman past. Now you can’t get much more solidly Roman than Rome. I first got the opportunity to go there in 1990 just after I finished my A levels. Myself and a friend went on an Italian coach tour. We were supposed to be saving up for the be-all and end-all of holidays. Given half a year of working while doing my A-levels I had put aside a grand (£1,000 for non-English) and was looking at super-hols in the sun. Until Oliver admitted he’d saved £200 in that time. Sooooo. We scaled down a little. A week’s coach tour in Italy. But I was determined we would do it right, so I spent the entire grand anyway, right down to having champagne on the ferry on the way back.

Anyway, I digress. Florence was decidedly arty and seemed to have an over-inflated opinion of itself. Venice was nice, but dirty and less fantastic than I’d been led to believe. Assisi was a surprise. The town was absolutely gorgeous. But Rome. Dear God, Rome. We had so little time there, but we went out the first night we arrived in the dark and I was immediately stunned. Never been anywhere like it. Every corner I turned I was confronted with marvels. And in between the marvels were roaming gangs of Nuns and Priests. The city seems to have a very Catholic version of the Jets and the Sharks going on, or the T-birds from Grease. A bunch of nuns actually manhandled (or should that be nunhandled?) us when we asked for directions. They pushed me round a corner to a taxi rank and actually carried Oliver (he was quite short.) The only thing that marred that first trip to Rome 17 years ago (dear God was it that long ago?) was that my camera was stolen on the top of St Peters and I lost most of my photos (having to buy a cheap one for the rest of the holiday.)

So I spent every year after that itching to go back to Rome. They say if you throw a coin in the Trevi fountain it guarantees you’ll go back. Well when I first went in 1990 the fountain was being renovated and was dry, so I’m lucky I went back at all I guess. I always planned to take my grandfather, who loved history, but it was never to be. By the time I could afford it he could no longer have managed.

So when I got together with Mrs Moosehunter, I arranged to take her for her 21st birthday. We went to Rome in 2004. It’d been 14 years of waiting but I went back. This time I was truly prepared. We had a list of every sight we could find out about and a map with them all marked on. I took just over a thousand photos (which is quite a lot even for me in only 4 days.) The weather that April (I believe it was April) was wet and it rained most of the days we were there. For a while it got me down, but the ever-chipper Mrs M spurred me on and we had a damn good time despite the rain. One day we even had blazing sunshine.

During that particular trip several interesting things happened:

  1. Mrs M encountered the revolving toilet seat. In a cafe she pressed the flush button and the whole seat revolved into the wall, replaced by a pristine, gleaming clean seat. How cool is that?
  2. Tramps accosted Mrs M everywhere we went. It was so funny, but without a video camera I could never catch it. One particular tramp near the Termini station blew a raspberry at her! And another near the Vatican told her to go to confession. It really was a hoot.
  3. Food and drink prices rise exponentially as you near the historic centre and we paid quite a lot to eat and drink most of the time. But we found a cafe near the Pyramid of Caius Cestius where we had two beers each, a coffee and a meal for the equivalent of £8. We were a little perturbed when we ordered the food and the barman disappeared through the bead curtain for 5 minutes. Then there was a *ping* and he came back out with two ready-meals still in the plastic trays. I could have laughed my ass off. But the strange thing was it was the best Carbonara I have ever eaten and the best meal that holiday.

Ah what a holiday.

And tomorrow we go again.

This is for our first wedding anniversary. And this time the forecast is for cloudless sunny skies and heat, heat, heat!

What is going to happen this time? Are the tramps already gathering? Has that cafe got in the ready-meal carbonara in preparation?

I wait with bated breath.

So look out on monday/tuesday for a report on the trip.

See ya later.



Written by SJAT

January 7, 2011 at 3:24 pm

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