Tales of a wandering lesbian

Army of two

We woke early in Rome.  We’d slept with the shutters open, for air in the hot roman night, and for light.  The window was the only real source of either.  The hotel was on a busy street, Via Nazionale, and located near the Victor Emanuel monument and the Coliseum.  Good for sightseeing.  Not so good for sleeping.   It was also on some kind of route for emergency vehicles.  We went to sleep to the sound of sirens, and both woke about 5:30 to the sound of air brakes.  I rolled out of the canopy bed and walked to the window, the wood floors creaking under me.

No fewer than 6 fire engines were parked across the street.  I watched for a bit, giving the play-by-play to my aunt.  “Now they’re milling about.  Now I think they’re going to get cappuccino.  Now they’re walking back to the trucks.”

“Should we be worried?”

“No, let’s go back to sleep.  It’s a couple of hours until breakfast.”

Of course.  Food is the number one concern with my family.  So we put our heads back on the pillow, to dream of cappu and cornetta.  A couple of hours later, we’d packed up and were ready for breakfast.  “Colazione,” we practiced together.  Every meal is a vocab lesson for me, and so it is becoming for the Ant.  (An aside:  My aunt’s name is Leslie.  But we call her “the Ant.”  It’s kind of like her superhero name.)

We opted to walk down the flight of stairs to the lobby, rather than take the tiny elevator.  The hotel seemed pretty small the night before, but as we walked past the front desk, turning right, and then right again, it became clear that the three floors were jam packed with rooms.  Nearing the breakfast area, we passed a floor-to-ceiling window that looked out on a little courtyard.

One of the great things about a city like Rome, is that it’s been built up over the years.  Buildings are built around and on top of old buildings, with courtyards enclosed by bridges and all manner of maze-like scenes materializing.

Once in the breakfast area, we rushed the cereal table, making ourselves bowls of cornflakes and yogurt.  It seemed so very exotic in Rome.  The girl in charge of the room motioned to a little table, and we sat while she brought us plates of splendor.

Bread, and croissants, and pate, and cheese.  Along with the cereal and yogurt, and the cappuccini she was now making for us, this would be a great breakfast.  But, in addition, each table was equipped with what I consider the snack bin.  Most bed and breakfasts I’ve stayed in in Italy have something similar to this.  These are filled with nice, packaged items that can be tossed in a purse and pulled out later, like on a train, or in the Coliseum for a mid-day snack.

Ours had dry bread wafers, cookies, and nutella and jam packages.  We packed half of the bin into the Ant’s purse while we waited for our coffee.

Coffee.  We’d arrived late enough the day before that it was unseemly to have cappuccino.  So, this was our first.  It was lovely.  I could have had 3 more.  I didn’t.  But, in an indulgent act, I did spread the cheese and peach jam all over my bread.  Together.

Super yum.

When we were done, it was only 8:30.  We were packed up and ready to go with two hours on our hands.  We consulted the map and decided we could make a run to the Coliseum and still have time to catch the 10:40 train to Salerno.  We left our bags at the front desk and ventured out.

And we found a crowd.  I’d noticed signs the night before announcing that June 2 was Armed Forces Day (or something similar).  Evidently, this was a big deal.  The streets were closed off with barriers, and military personnel was everywhere.

We followed hordes of people down the streets toward the Coliseum, wondering what we would find.

Along with a stunning sky, we found the Coliseum closed off, and firemen standing on the outside of the structure.

Yeah, that was strange.  We looked over the ledge at the street below and saw what was clearly a parade route.  After standing for about 30 seconds, a cute-as-a-button motorcycle cop told us it wasn’t possible for us to stand where we were.  We refrained from pinching him and moved along, deciding that we’d better head back quickly if we wanted to get out of the city before the excitement began.

As much fun as it would have been to take in the parade with the locals, we really had no idea what we would be getting ourselves into, and we needed to be in Salerno.  So, we high-tailed it back up the street, around the barriers, and through the hordes of military, police, and spectators.

Once out of the area, we found the streets relatively calm, taking time to appreciate the beauty of Rome’s alleyways and grand piazzas.

We hiked back up to the lobby to retrieve our bags, and made one last trip in the little elevator.

Then we struck out on our own adventure, my giant drab backpack strapped to me, and the Ant’s purse stocked with rations for the day.

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