The next morning Mike and I were still up by 8am, but that was a little late compared to how early we’d been getting up since we were still not quite on Rome time. It felt so nice to sleep in a little after all the activity of the previous couple of days and the disrupted sleep because of the power coming back on at midnight the night before. The rain seemed to have passed, so Mike and I decided to go see the Baths of Diocletian, which were apparently only a few blocks from our hotel (hence the name of the hotel… Diocleziano).
Although we assumed we would just see the baths, we discovered that there was also a pretty extensive National Roman Museum next to the Baths so we went there as well.
It was an eye-opening experience, because it made us feel as though the Romans weren’t that different than us. Everything we had been viewing up to that point had been so old. Nothing seemed relatable from our current context. However, the National Roman Museum next to the Baths had a lot of artifacts that didn’t look very different than their modern equivalents. They had tombstones with epitaphs carved on them, and we could even mostly read the epitaphs since English is Latin-based.
There were pots and pans, religious artifacts, little crude dolls, etc. It was really cool. It almost seemed like the piece of our trip that tied the ancient Rome to our modern world.
Afterwards we decided we wanted to do something different. We’d been looking at museums and ruins and artifacts for three days and were ready to see how more modern Romans lived. So we went down to Roma Termini station, that center of all travel, and hopped a local train to a different part of the city, a neighborhood called Trastevere. We didn’t really know where we were going, but since the train tickets were only 2 Euros, Mike pointed out that if this was a mistake it was the cheapest one we were going to make! Supposedly it was a pretty cool neighborhood, but I think we missed the center of it since we didn’t really know where we were going. Regardless, we wandered up and down streets in Trastevere for awhile. It definitely had a more modern feel to it (and by modern, I mean several hundred years old instead of several thousand years old). Here was where we saw doctor’s offices, grocery stores, more little Italian bistros (since that apparently wasn’t just an ancient Rome thing), parks, larger streets, etc. It was a nice day for walking, and it was cool to get a sense of what a modern Roman’s life looked like. Afterwards we hopped the train back to Roma Termini.
Then it was time to take decide where to go next.
We only had one remaining night registered in Hotel Diocleziano in Rome, and we were ready to move on to a different city. Exciting! But which city? Originally we had been planning to go to Rome, Florence, and Venice, since that’s what all of the ‘first time in Italy’ tour guides seemed to recommend. However, after looking at the tourist attractions in Florence, they didn’t particularly excite either Mike or me, so we started looking up other Italian cities. We considered going to Venice next since we knew we wanted to go there eventually, but Venice wasn’t known for its nightlife and we wanted to experience some Italian night life. Also, after some internet research, I learned that, just by chance, if we went to Venice at the end of our trip we would be there for Carnavale, the big, masked, city-wide celebration just prior to Lent. According to internet research, there were Carnavale festivals all over Europe, but Venice’s was a big one and was listed as a ‘must-see’ Venice event on goitaly.about.com. Based on all of that, we decided we definitely wanted to put Venice at the end of our trip so that we could be there for both our 2 month anniversary and for Valentine’s Day. So that left us with a hole in the middle of our trip since we weren’t overly excited about Florence. More research was done. The internet, that source of endless information, was consulted. In the end, we chose a city we both felt excited about but hadn’t previously considered. We reserved a hotel online and bought electronic train tickets for the following day. It was a city known for both fashion and finance… one of the epicenters of modern Italy. Any guesses?
It started to rain again that night. We randomly turned on the TV at 8pm so we could watch a little TV while we packed our bags for the train trip the next day, and discovered that a Chinese movie was just starting. It was kind of hilarious because it was a Chinese movie, but it had Italian voice-overs so the actors’ mouths didn’t move with the words, and some of the voices sounded pretty ridiculous. Plus it was just kind of odd seeing Chinese actors “speaking” Italian. Since Mike and I knew neither Chinese nor Italian, we didn’t really know what was going on, but that didn’t stop us from guessing. We talked it through as we folded up our clothes and put them back in suitcases.
“Yeah… that woman seems unhappy, but she looks like the queen. I think she’s actually in love with that young guy who she keeps making eye contact with.”
“I don’t know… that young guy is dressed like a prince. Maybe that’s just her son.”
“I don’t think she’s looking at him like a mom looks at a son…”
“Why are they making the queen drink stuff from that gold cup? She doesn’t look like she likes it.”
“Maybe it’s poison.”
“Why would she voluntarily drink poison?”
The really hilarious part is that Mike found the movie via that endless internet using the credits at the end, and he and I were almost entirely correct with our assessment of the plot. I don’t know whether that says more about our deduction skills or the predictable plot in the movie. 😉
The next day it was back to raining hard, but Mike and I resolutely carried our luggage the few blocks to Roma Termini station. We went early because we thought the train might be difficult to figure out, but all that ended up happening is that we waited in the cold gusty winds inside Roma Termini for about half an hour with all of our luggage. The problem with being over-prepared and, as Mike graciously pointed out, overl-early. 🙂
As we were getting on the train a man seemed to appear out of nowhere and helped us with our luggage. Mike was iffy about it, having been to Germany and having seen people foist off their services on you and then charge you for it, but he already had our bags before Mike and I realized he wasn’t employed by the train company. Then, at our seats after he put our luggage down, he waited for a tip. I gave him a few Euros, and he asked for more. I said no. He said, “5 for you, 5 for him… 10 Euros.” I was starting to get angry. We hadn’t even asked for any help and he had performed a service that took him two minutes and was trying to charge money for it. I shook my head and he continued to be pushy and persistent, but I was now annoyed enough that I wouldn’t have given him anything extra just on principle. He kept trying until he could tell both Mike and I were getting really annoyed and then left the car. One of the two non-English-speaking Italians sitting across the aisle from us gave me a thumbs up and winked at me, clearly letting me know he approved of refusing extra money to our ‘helper’. And that was the last time Mike and I let anyone take our bags at all. In the future when other people tried to “help” we resolutely hung on to our bags and said No. A good lesson to learn! Although we had been warned by multiple people about pickpockets, we didn’t experience any of that. Instead, we saw lots of shifty looking people who wanted to ‘help’ you with things… things like getting your bags on the train, helping you with the ticket machine at the train station, or selling you something cheap like a knock-off coach purse, sunglasses, or roses… and then charge you a ridiculous price after the fact.
Mike and I got situated and the train started moving. Very quickly Mike fell asleep, and the two guys across the aisle from us likewise fell asleep.
I stayed awake to take a few more pictures. The scenery was gorgeous!
Mike woke up a little later to enjoy the scenery that we passed. The trains there were awesome… they felt so new and went so fast compared to U.S. trains!
I love this picture of Mike… he looks so relaxed! 🙂
In non-Italy news, Mike and I finished up another week at work and went on a run together last night… I love that Mike is running with me sometimes! Earlier today we bought a bag of cedar compost and spread it on our little garden plot. I planted kale, arugula, and garlic… hopefully at least some of it comes up even though I don’t really know what I’m doing and am just going off tips from my dad, my hairdresser, and a friend from work! We definitely shouldn’t have another frost this year; it’s been in the 50’s so at least I shouldn’t have to worry about the ground freezing. Hope everyone is having a wonderful weekend! 🙂