3 short months was the longest amount of time that I had spent away from my parents. We had used FaceTime regularly, talking about our week and enjoying tours of the monastery and house back in OKC. For many weeks, Max, my last childhood dog, has been experiencing deteriorating health. My amazing best friend Peter took care of him while my parents readied their bags and flew east 5.5k miles.
My mother Amy is a rather picky eater, but she is expanding her horizons. She doesn’t like pasta, tomatoes, most vegetables, and is lactose intolerant (like her son). Perfect for Italy, right? My dad Ken, however, is much more adventurous. We used to the travel the world together by palette alone, and we discovered many wonderful things in the key elements of worldly cooking styles.
After flying back from Dublin, I met my parents in Rome. It was such a wonderful reunion because I missed them so much. By that point, I had not eaten much food because I was trying to save my money while traveling from country to country. My father loves to feed, so needless to say I did not go hungry again for the rest of the vacation. He seemed wildly taken aback by the selection of food that there was to choose from. I always considered Italian food so good that it was really difficult to go wrong-just throw a dart at a map and eat where it lands. You won’t be disappointed.
After our culinary tour of the city, we got to do some sight-seeing. We made our way to St. Peter’s Basilica, and got some amazing pictures…
We even made our way up to the Cupola (the dome on top of St. Peter’s), and as you can see it was quite the endeavor. Turns out, due to the curvature of the dome, we had to walk nearly sideways in order to make our way through it.
Then, as you do, we checked out the Sistine Chapel…
The amount of riches within the Vatican Complex was astounding. Every time that I am surrounded by so much grandeur, I cannot help but feel exhausted by it. It has a kind of numbing effect such that I can only appreciate so much before it kind of loses its impact and even value.
By this point, mom was having issues finding the kind of food that she could enjoy and we were fatigued from fighting Roman traffic (more about that at the end).
So then we flew back west to Spain where I could see Fernando once more!
I was honestly a bit nervous that I wouldn’t be able to speak Spanish with Fernando as well, but the Italian only affected my ability to speak a little bit. I consistently made errors like saying “ciao”, “grazie”, & “allora” instead of the Spanish counterparts, but people could still understand me regardless. On top of that, I was still fully capable of using more obscure verb tenses.
We even found a place for mom to eat! Turns out Spanish cuisine is much more forgiving to my mom’s appetite than Italian.
Funny aside: We went into a little pub where we could get a few drinks and relax after so much walking. Dad was being himself and made some joking remark about Trump’s glory when the OWNER OF THE BAR FLIPPED HIM OFF. It tickled him pink, and they continued to chat for a while after that; I think he made a friend.
I can’t wait to go back…
(Cross posted from my class blog) I had some thoughts about Italian traffic. Here they are.
Communication goes much further beyond spoken word. For instance, animals are able to communicate their needs; Koko the gorilla was able to communicate almost 1,000 words before her recent death in 2018. That’s quite impressive, but imagine if we were to put monkeys in sealed cars and told them to communicate primarily through body language!
Italian drivers operate on a variety of ways to communicate right-of-way, ‘my god’, and ‘you’re an idiot, just cross already’. They rely on a few key components to conveying these crucial concepts in life-or-death situations: the eyes, scowl, and the proverbial Italian hand.
Much like the gay community, locking eyes is the first step in this encounter. Whether it is a game of dominance is dependent on many variables: the car’s velocity and model, the driver’s awareness and reaction speed, the pedestrian’s courage and position in relation to the sidewalk. When we first came here, it became evidently clear that the eyes send invisible rays of guilt that cause the driver to recognize they will regret mowing down another human being which usually brings them to a halt. An interesting aspect of Italian cars is that the default model is standard rather than the automatic that we are used to. While slowing down is easy, they must go through a number of gears when they get back up to speed after yielding to a pedestrian.
The scowl is a beautiful part of the expression which many Italian drivers share. It is reflective of the inner dialogue “why did this car slow down in front of me? Vai, vai!” It doubles as a means to express their disapproval at your use of crosswalks in their paths.
Finally, the Italian hand which we have venerated into true ‘memedom’. What is it really used for? Well, it seems to be used in a means of disbelief or exasperation at someone trying to dupe them yet again. In a ways, it is a real “come on, we both know better”. Should I really have made that decision as a pedestrian, or should I have just waited another moment for him or her to pass?
In all reality, Italians seem to have a rich and deeply ingrained means of communication, and I have only scratched the surface. While walking around Italian drivers can be scary at first, the trial-and-error process of learning to share the streets with them was primarily a matter of learning to take the trust from street signs and put it into your fellow traveler. Just look and be aware, and you can even get through Rome unscathed… more or less.