“Go to Italy,” they said. “Italian men there are not like the Guidos here,” they said. “They will pinch your ass,” they said. “You will get Italian bone,” they said. Like I have to travel across the Atlantic to go on penis patrol.
So I just got back from 9 days in Rome, more or less intact but with mysterious bruises and some kind fluid-filled goiter growing from my right heel to the inside of my ankle. Nothing like jet lag to cure insomnia…I have been sleeping like an angel since I got back! Also it was good to get away from my usual anxiety-filled thoughts here at home and to entertain some fresh travel OCD. It turns out I am a “checker,” digging in the bowels of my bag to take inventory of my stuff every ten minutes: Passport! MasterCard! Map! Euros! Cell Phone! Hotel Key!
I took a few day trips by train but I have no idea where I was and the sun setting to the west never seemed to provide any clues because everything in Italy is all askew. And maps don’t help!
“Italy is shaped like a boot,” they said, “just think of Rome as the middle of the shin.”
Here is Italy:
I don’t get this “boot shape.” Where do you put your foot? Do you cut it off and put it in Sicily? Call Freud, but I see a downward facing mangled penis. Rome is in the middle of the shaft, Milan is in the left testicle and Venice is in the right, Sicily is the disembodied head, LOL, and Sardinia is some random scat. And it’s not my fault I see what I see…the entire country is a festival of phalli. Everywhere you turn, there is a statue of some naked guy with his marble junk sack right at eye level. Look at dude up there, he showed up for work and remembered his cloak but not his pants as he stands casually next to his horse.
Rome, it’s my kind of town. Having said that, nobody pinched my ass. I think that was a twentieth century phenomenon when everything was la dolce vita. If they did that now and you turned around, you just know they would thrust their palm in your face and demand 5 euros. Romans demand 5 euros for everything they do, they give directions and hold the door open but it’s not without a price. It gets tiresome after a while so you need to know when to bolt before they stick their hand out.
Here are some of the highlights:
1. THE WAX MUSEUM:
The only museum in Rome with no line ups is Museo delle Cere. Scary as fuck! Add to the creepy factor is that no one is in there! Go upstairs and poke into the rooms where there are various body parts and random heads. Remarkably, Museo delle Cere is a penis-free zone. If I had seen one, I would have popped it in my purse as a macabre souvenir because nobody was guarding the joint.
2. THE BEACH:
Of course Rome does not have any beaches because it is not on the coast, but just an hour train ride up the shaft, there is a cute little coastal town called Santa Marinella. I discovered it on a blog, Young in Rome. The smartest thing I did was bring my lap top even though “Wifi” in my hotel in Rome meant 5 euros for 3 days of stop-go internet flow that only worked in the lobby. Mid-August in Rome can get pretty oppressive in the heat and everyone is on vacay at the beach. It was crowded but worth it. Really nice sand and clear water,there were a few chunks of mystery sea salad but that is part and parcel of beach romping. It’s the Mediterranean so the salt water helped clear all my stress zits. Apparently you have to rent an umbrella and chairs but I squatted in one on the first day . I got busted because I picked a primo spot by the water that some dude was renting for 3 months(!) but the ones in the back were daily rentals. I slipped under one and no one said anything but I lived in fear so the next day I bit the bullet and rented a single chair and umbrella: 20 euros! But I had peace of mind. Italians are loud fuckers and when they have a conversation, it sounds like they are fighting. But soon, their constant nattering became beautiful white noise and I actually had the best nap ever! Oh, and Italian men wear Speedo-type suits so their Spandex-encased penises were ubiquitous and diverse: Big and small, young and old, righties and lefties.
So after two days of beach loafing, I needed a cultural day trip. Evangeline texted me and said: “Go to Pompeii, there are mummies of people who died in a volcano!” Yay! Dead people, I thought, might take my mind off penises. Again, thank the Roman god, Interneto, for the trickle of free unlocked Wifi I got in my room that night and was able to find a cool and easy trip with Enjoy Rome. For 60 euros, they offered a shuttle bus to and from Pompeii on Tuesdays and Thursdays. It was Monday night at 10 pm but I decided to take a chance and catch the bus at 7:30 a.m near the Termini train station and hope that it wasn’t booked up. They did have room but as per usual, I need to forewarn any traveler: Nothing costs what they say it costs on the website and in person 60 euros was really 68 euros, cash only…okay, pocket that, Sergio, it was still cheaper and easier than taking a train/bus combo.
Anyway, two and a half hours down the shaft near Naples is the Pompeii site. I befriended two lovely Irish ladies from the bus in the line up to get in and they invited me to tag along with them. We decided to take one of those makeshift group tours for 10 euros (plus 11 euros to get in), which I would totally recommend.
Pompeii, who knew? Ruins and porn…forget trying to forget penises, they were carved into the buildings, on frescos and statues every where you turned.
Quick summary: Pompeii was a vacation town during the heyday of the Roman empire and on 79 A.D. a volcano erupted from Mount Vesuvius and while many people escaped, around 2,000 souls and the entire city were buried underneath the volcanic ash until the excavations began in the 1700s.
Back in the day, the people of Pompeii knew how to live la vita edonistica. Whore houses were the nail salons of their day, on every street corner. Sex workers rented rooms from family homes. Bath houses were bath houses, same as now (John Travolta-style), but your dad and the mayor would be there every day. The frescos said it all. I’ll just leave these here and say no more:
Ah, Rome…I love you and I hate you at the same time, just like my own town, Toronto.
I love how you Romans are free to drink Peroni on the street and laws are just unenforced suggestions but have you heard of any food item that isn’t based upon a white carb? And why not inject your sardine-based gene pool with some herrings from Scandinavia? I don’t know how to say it any kinder but y’all are a generation away from becoming mountain people, if you know what I mean. And dudes, *if* you pinched my ass, I would giggle and totally give you 5 euros AND a tip. And that goes for you, too, Toronto, I’m really not that hard to get.
Next time down the shaft to the Amalfi coast! Ci vediamo, Italia!