Traveling around Italy, from Milan to Rome and Ferrara, for family honor and for pure marathon pain.
A day in Rome
Rome is a great city
. I remembered it as soon as I stepped outside the station.
It was warm, it was crowded and it was crazy.
This has always been as far as I traveled in the South of Italy. Being from Milan, and not having south italians parents, I've always tried to avoid traveling so south, in the same snobbish away people from South London avoid Kilburn or other North London area with a dodgy reputation.
But somehow I've always liked Rome
Like any other capital in the Europe with such a great history and heritage, it probably would be an even better place without the locals, and the tourists. Not sure who should stay in the city, but I guess this is just my problem.
Anyway, I've arrived in Rome at the same time of my cousin's ceremony. One problem: I was in the station and he was in the Cecchignola, the military city-within-a-city (just like the Vatican) that trains many of the Italian officers.
I know what you think. Italian Army jokes and yada yada yada
Things have changed. We fought and won with honor with the British in the First World War
. Yes, we made some mistakes in the second choosing the wrong allies, but since then, unlike the French Army, we have been displaced pretty much around the whole globe in support of NATO operations.
There is no more mandatory service, and they even accept women now. I personally left the army in December 1999, and those things happened the next month.
I didn't have any troubles finding the Cecchignola, but I arrived too late to see the ceremony. Everything was well over and all was left to me was waiting for Davide outside.
I finally met my cousin, with his friends Rob (who drove all the way from Milan), and we had lunch together. He was happy like only a new officer can be, and was kind enough to offer us some great local food. We spent time talking about the past, our army experiences and all the great things that my family loves.
I wanted to visit Rome while Davide obviously wanted to just go home and relax. So I did let him go with Rob while I decided to meet with my good friend Alessia and Giada somewhere in centre town.
The weird thing that I noticed was how different the metropolitan systems smell. In Milan, there is almost no smell
(unless you take it in the summer, with 40 degrees, with people sweating in your face). In Rome, all the tunnels smell of mold
They smell old. Much older than the 1920s. They smell like a tomb.
To reach a place you're basically traveling in history through history. And coming out is always a great feeling.
The sun, the noise and the fresh air. Life.
Something that sometimes it's missing in Milan, a city that I've never particularly liked.
was there on holiday, invited for the screening of a film she took part as assistant some time ago. She from the north as well (albeit the north east), but I guess that her character and joie de vivre
are a match made in heaven with the capital and their inhabitants.
Giada (once again a northeastern) moved here some time ago, following some love or a different lifestyle.
We had a nice coffee in front of one of the many churches, too many to remember its name. Then, with Giada starting her shift at the restaurant, I just walked around with Alessia, trying to see as many monuments as possible.
I chose the biggest ones obviously.
After The Trevi Fountain
(I throw a coin every single time and I always come back, so it's working) we moved to the Pantheon
, a huge temple with a big hole, once used by every roman citizen who was free to pray his own god (back in the time when polytheism was still normal).
Quite democratic even by today standards. Sure, it was converted by Christians and now it holds the tomb of our last kings.
Rulers change, history sometimes too.
I personally wanted to see the Altare della Patria
, near Piazza Venezia, a huge building built of white marble and features majestic stairways, tall Corinthian columns, fountains, a huge equestrian statue of Victor Emmanuel and two statues of goddess Victoria riding on quadrigas (straight from wikipedia). Alessia took a great picture with my army fez.
From Piazza Venezia
, when in 1940 Mussolini declared war to France (a war we won on the football pitch only in 2006
, 66 years wait but it was worth it!) we passed through the Imperial Forums
and the Colosseum
I then said goodbye to Alessia and got on the train, destination Milan, and 8 hours later my dad was there, ready to get me and take me home.