Thursday, 1 September 2011

Bella Italia

Well, it’s certainly been a while since I posted on here. I’m sure you’ve all missed the cutting edge insight on the aspects of my utterly thrilling life, including such highlights as “Why I hate shoes” “”Why Chinese food is vile” and who can forget the smash hit “My mother thinks I’ll be the subject of a court appearance”.

Still, beggars can’t be choosers, however choosers can be beggars, as no doubt you’ll be begging for some sane ramblings after you’ve chosen to read this.

But I digress. Onto the subject. I visited Italy on holiday. Surprisingly this was my first visit to the beautiful country, but I assure you, I endeavour with all my heart and soul not to make it my last also. That’s “It was well good and I wanna go back” for those not reading in hyperbole.

We set off from Heston Travelodge (recommended, I might add, not a bad place for a Travelodge)  at a reasonable hour…. If you’re a miner. On the night shift. It was 4 bloody AM and I’d had about 3 hours sleep tops. I was grumpy even by my standards, tired, hungry, and ready to explode at any moment. But we got to Terminal 5, they didn’t lose our bags, I hobbled through the scanners holding up the jeans I was wearing (in my haste to pack the night before last I had put my father’s second pair of jeans in my night bag instead of my own, meaning I needed a belt to stop them collapsing. (My waist is 8 inches less than that of my father.) Luckily I managed to get the belt back on pronto so a disturbance was prevented and the tiny shreds of dignity I do have were preserved.

The flight was uneventful and even more boring than my normal life, although to my credit I did manage to get one of my sisters and my brother humming “Ride of the Valkyries” whenever we banked.

We landed at Fiumicino (Leonardo Da Vinci) Airport and I decided to try out my Italian phrases to the passport control. However “I tuoi occhi sono bellissimi” (You have such beautiful eyes) was met with a balefully icy glare and a very impatient “get out of the way Englishman and let me do my job” wave. We then waited by the baggage carousel for exactly 50 minutes as the Italians spectacularly failed to do their job competently. We made it out of the airport eventually, and got a taxi to our residence. As soon as we stepped into the Roman air I immediately felt my skin burning, it was 36 degrees Celsius. Up where we were staying, by Lake Albano, it was less hot, a mere 34 degrees. I got some stunning pics of the Lake, truly a jewel in the Italian countryside. We ate. Later we ate again. We enjoyed the sunshine and generally dossed about.


The adventures of the week.

Me and my middle sister decided to go against the usual grain of “laze around near the pool” and actually go on a nice walk, all the way around the lake to Castel Gandolfo (better known as the Pope’s summer residence. The big man wasn’t in, but we had a poke around the town and generally just ate ice cream (gelati)  whilst a few locals pointed and jabbered at us. To my sister’s surprise I replied in a flawless Italian accent. Reading phrasebooks does do you some good, even if they are useful mainly for compliments and chat-up lines. We had a death stare from a Swiss guard, a sub-machine gun waved menacingly at us by the carabinieri, and a fist shaken at us by an irate cyclist in horribly tight lycra. Apart from that, it was pretty dull. And very pretty. My father and eldest sister attempted this walk, but got lost on the way there, and had to get a taxi back, but they weren’t threatened with being shot.

We decided to visit the big city, Roma, the Eternal City, the former crux of the known world, all roads lead to Rome and what. We sadly didn’t get to see as much as we liked, but we saw some cracking views, from the Cupola in the Vatican City, the Fontana di Trevi, and the Scalinata della Trinita dei Monti though. That’s the Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps to you. Beautiful, beautiful landmarks, one of the best pieces of architecture my limited experience has yielded. I threw a coin in the fountain (naturally) and then dived back in to retrieve it to buy an ice cream. I’m kidding of course, I wouldn’t do that. I mugged a tourist and used his money instead.

Two highlights to the day, both provided by my father. Trying to get a picture of me and my eldest sister, he ran forward, stumbled on the steps, pheasant-ran up 3 before losing his balance, but not before a spectacular barrel roll onto his back before he hit the floor (to protect his camera). The second one was on the Metro, my youngest sister, thick as she is, managed to get on the wrong train. The doors were almost closed before my dad sprinted to the train and slowly ripped the doors open (hulk-style-esque) grabbed my sister, leapt off the train and sprinted off to get the right train, with us ahead and laughing our socks off. To a passenger on the train, they had appeared to see a crazy Scottish man wrench open the doors of an underground train, and steal a child before making off. It was quite a sight. We had to go back to the house anyway, it worked out great. Luckily my dad wasn’t pinned to the pavement facefirst by the jackboot of an angry Italian policeman, as there were none around. We got the train and left. 38C out there as well, in the shade, madness!

Then eventually a couple of days later we had to leave. (Not before I got horribly drunk in an Italian bar/lounge type thingy…. I drank a lot of Baffa D’Oro and somehow got home, and made sure my sisters were okay as well.

Then, sadly, we had to leave. And leave we did (via a 90 minute delay) but we left meaning to come back and see more of Roma, and to hopefully see my father arrested at some point for a perfectly innocent act of parenthood. Well, for me anyway, because I find stuff like that funny. He doesn’t.
Anyway, that was my holiday. Boring? To you maybe, but for me it was a valuable cultural experience and a real eye-opener to the Italian culture. And I got pissed a few times.
Arriverderci Italia. In a bit.

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