Wednesday, September 28, 2016
Ciao, just a quick wave from Rome
Jetlag with a 9-hour time zone difference is tough. I slept through my first night here, but scarcely a wink the second. Then last night, I fell asleep about 11 only to wake at 1 for a few frustrating hours. But when I dropped back into slumberland, I stayed there long enough to miss the free hotel breakfast which only runs until 9:30.
So this photo is of me, finally dressed and heading out in search of collazione. Caffe e un cornetto. I'm practicing the words I'll need even as I pose for the camera.
I'd downloaded directions to get me to the Protestant Cemetery today, on the advice of helpful readers. But as I began walking, I let my body tell me something: I'm tired, in many ways and at many levels. I might try to follow those directions today. But I might also just wander Monti without direction. I might just sit on the marble steps surrounding a fountain in a piazza that's gradually becoming more animated as the sun rises higher in the sky. I might take some time to write a short post on my iPhone. I might just pretend to write a post and instead listen to the sounds around me, all the conversations in language I only catch sparks of....
Breakfast first, though. I pass a few possibilities but off the main drag I'm not seeing those outside tables I've learned the easy drill for: just sit and someone eventually comes to take your order.
Instead, I pass a doorway that looks so promising. A bar counter, wood tables with patrons lingering over coffee while turning the pages of the morning giornale. The aroma suggests good beans, roasted recently, brewed carefully, and there's a bowl of oranges in the window ready for juicing, a plate of enticing pastries. I hesitate, but can't quite do it. To go inside on my own, to order, either in English or my emerging Italian, to decide where to sit, to feel so vulnerably foreign, exposed. . . I walk on, scanning for an easier venue. 11:00, my tummy wants me to find something. Now.
So I do it. Spin on my heels, walk back to, then through, that doorway. At the counter I say, Vorrei un caffe e un cornetto, per favore. And magically, he's nodding, reaching a croissant onto a plate, sliding it along the counter to me. He puts a small spoon on a small saucer for the espresso cup, which he takes to the espresso machine, whirs out its hot, dark liquor for me and puts it on the saucer. Meanwhile, I've worked up the nerve, found the words, to ask if anche, posso avere un succo d'arancia. And again, magic. He's nodding and I seem to have made sense, but then a torrent of Italian I'm helpless to understand. No problem. Gestures to the rescue, and soon we have both confirmed that the orange juice I'm asking for is to be fresh squeezed.
And did I mention that I'm doing all this st the counter? Where I'm eating and drinking? As the locals do, along with experienced travelers who know the prices are much reduced if you don't require table service and a place to park for very long. At the counter, there's always a cool vibe, and it feels good to be a part of it, momentarily.
But I'm on a wandering mission. Cuanto costa, I ask, then fish out the coins for the 4.50 Euro charge, slide off my stool, and out the door, barely restraining my newly recaffeinated self from patting myself on the shoulder. Of course, writing this in a nearby piazza half an hour on, I realise I made one significant error in an otherwise successful foray: I forgot to use an available toilet when the opportunity presented itself. Rookie move! Shame on you, mater--you should know better.
Ah well, that's all for now, as I've consumed untold realms of data to post this. Follow my days in Rome on Instagram if you'd like. I'm happy to have company as I wander. Meanwhile, as you know,Comments always welcome