Day 8 in Italia, heading home tomorrow, and I finally have time and an internet connection to jot down some thoughts.
I arrived in Rome last Thursday (12/10) after flying overnight from Philadelphia. I actually almost didn’t make it to Philadelphia because of bad weather there. I was rushing around to try to get everything taken care of before I left for the Greensboro airport and remembered that I wanted to check-in for my flight on-line from home to pay less for my luggage (turns out there is no fee for luggage on international flights). When I tried to check in I got an error message and an 800-number to call. I called the 800-number and found out my flight from Greensboro to Philly had been canceled because of weather. The agent offered me a flight from Charlotte that I couldn’t make because it was too soon (Charlotte being about an hour longer drive than Greensboro), but then found one that left an hour later than my flight from Greensboro. So, I hit the road, made it to Philadelphia and was off.
When I got on the transatlantic flight in Philly, I realized that the legroom on the plane was worse than on the flight up from NC. I tried to forget about the pain I would suffer over the next many hours by talking to the guy sitting next to me, who was a younger Roman guy who was working in Charlotte. He told me about some of his favorite places in Roma and then the flight attendance came up and asked if we were both traveling alone. We said yes, and she moved him to another row — so I ended up have two seats on the side to myself! That, and Ambien, made it possible for me to sleep some on the flight so when we landed at 9:00am local time, I was in pretty good shape.

Never having been to Europe (outside of one day in Amsterdam), I was a little nervous about finding my way around. I needed to catch a train into the city to the Stazione Termini and then another train to Assisi where my conference was being held. Thanks to some advance reading on the internet, it could not have been easier to find the Leonardo Express to Termini.

One thing that was immediately striking on the way into the city was the intermingling of the ancient and the modern. The view in this picture caught my eye, as did any number of other similar views.

I got to Termini just before 10am, so I checked the train schedule to Assisi and found one that left just before 2pm and decided to walk around for a few hours. I checked my bag (4 Euro for 5 hours) and used the restroom (0.80 Euro) and was off. (I was also eased into the fact that Italy would be VERY expensive, especially at $1.50 or more to the Euro!)
I walked out of the Stazione Termini onto the bustling streets of Roma, with little cars, scooters (though not many Vespas), and buses everywhere. I did like the locals did and just snaked my way across the streets through the stopped traffic. This day was worse than normal because a demonstration had closed the traffic circle at nearby Piazza della Republica. I don’t know what it was about, but I heard from locals that every day they are protesting something in Roma so this was a nice introduction to daily life here.
I like this picture in particular because you can see the church of Santa Maria degli Angeli in the background. Again, the new and the old comingling.
One thing I didn’t realize until I got to Roma was that “Yamane” is prounced in Italian as “Yamamay,” and they actually have a store by that name, pictured here.
After a nice lunch near the Termini I caught the train to Assisi, which — contrary to stereotypes about Italy — ran right on time. I caught a cab for the 4km ride to the hotel (12 Euros!).
The conference I was attending made arrangements for us to stay at Suore di Santa Brigida di Svezia, which is run ay Brigidine nuns. I was a little stunned at first to realize I would be without a TV and internet, but by the end of my stay I realized it was a real blessing to be disconnected in such a beautiful, historic, and spiritual setting, Assisi.

Because I arrived in the early evening and dinner was not served until 7:30pm, I walked up the hill to the center of Assisi. I don’t really have the linguistic ability to describe the city, but there are alot of places on-line that you can find pictures, which say a thousand words.

One other thing I can’t describe adequately is Italian caffe and pastries:

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