The Appian Way
Rome Travel Blog› entry 7 of 8 › view all entries
On Sundays the road is largely closed off for traffic, so it makes a great escape from the noise of the city. Even though you are still well within city limits, it doesn't feel like that for all the green surroundings and wide open areas.
That is what I like about all of Rome, really. It is a huge sprawling city, but it doesn't feel like a huge sprawling city.
The Appian way makes a nice half day trip, and as I had slept in this morning, half a day was all I had left. Once this was the main road along which the largest Roman villas and mansions stood, and it was also the place where Spartacus and 6000 of his followers were crucified.
As it was Palm Sunday the catacombs were closed (as were most churches) so I had to make do with just a stroll along the road, and a quick visit to some ruins of a minor castle.
On the way back to the city I stopped at the Terme di Caracalla, the remains of a huge bathing complex which once again illustrates the scale and grandeur of Roman architecture. The ceilings have all collapsed, and what is left are huge walls and large sections of tiled floors, but it is still possible to imagine the sheer size of the complex.
I received a text message from Alessandro to come meet him at the Spanish steps, so I took the subway to Piazza di Spagna, which was even busier now than when I had visited it three days earlier.
As I was half an hour early I decided to use this opportunity to enjoy one last Italian icecream. This involuntary introduced me to Italian cliché # 36: Everyone in Rome will try to rip off tourists. It is common practice that at ice parlours in Rome you first pay for the amount of scoops you want, and then you present the receipt at the counter and choose your flavours. As I was trying to figure out where I had to pay the guy behind the counter asked me what I wanted. I explained I hadn't paid yet, and he told me not to worry, I could choose my flavours first. OK, let's see, I'll have two scoops then and I pointed at the flavours I wanted.
The guy then added a little biscuit on top of it and asked me if I wanted some chocolate sprinkles as well. Sure, why not, and I watched amused as he jokingly started adding more and more biscuits and other decoration to my ice cream cone.
"that'll be 16 euros then, please"
"I beg your pardon?"
"wait, it says there 2 euros for a scoop, I have two scoops, so 4 euros would do just fine me thinks"
The girl behind the till opened a menu and pointed at an item "you have that one"
I looked at the description of the 'Special surprise' and I figured I had indeed received a special surprise. But I hadn't asked for any special surprises. I told her: "I didn't ask for any special surprises".
I felt stupid. This is the kind of thing you'd expect to happen in some country in Asia, not in a country that is in the EU.
"I don't want it" I said, and before she could say anything else I handed her the melting cone and walked out.
I found another small gelateria around the corner where I got some of the most delicious ice cream I have ever had without issues.
Italian cliché # 126: Italians don't like public transport. I met Alessandro and some of his friends at the Piazza Espagna, which is right next to a subway station. Ale explained we had to go pick up Flaminia from her work, so we headed to his car, which was parked a 45-minute walk away, right next to another subway station. After this we had to drive 30 minutes through rush hour traffic to Alessandro's apartment, which is also located at a stone's throw from a subway station.
When I asked Ale if it hadn't been easier to simply take the subway from Piazza Espagna to his house, which is a 15-minute trip, he looked at me and said "I never thought of that"
Italian cliché # 12: Italians cities are dangerous.
As we pulled up in front of the emergency room Ale's brother came out carrying his 6-month old daughter. Only then did we learn that everything was ok with his health. He had been visiting a friend and as he was leaving he got robbed at knifepoint in the waiting room of the ER. Robbed! At knife point! In the waiting room of an ER? Seriously, if there is one place where I would not expect a robbery to take place it would be at a hospital, where there are guards and people and everything.
We gave his brother a lift back home, after which it was no point heading back to the city centre to try and meet up with the others. Instead we found a nice little restaurant in the neighbourhood, where I treated Alessandro and Flaminia to dinner, as a thank you for their company and hospitality.
After dinner it was time to visit some more of Rome's hills, and tonight we went to one which boasted wonderful views over the Vatican.
Once back at Alessandro's place I had to pack my bags and say my goodbyes to Ale and Flaminia, as I would be leaving very early the next morning.