48 Hours In Rome

"How amazing would it be to have a house party in the Colosseum."
When Ionia asks when we'll get to meet the Pope I know this won't be quite the art retreat I'd expected...

On Tuesday, we meet at Gatwick, Canada Goose coats in hand, to fly off for 48 hours in Rome. The destination was mainly my idea: home to the Sistine Chapel, St Peter's Basilica, the Colosseum, the Trevi Fountain and the Pantheon, it seemed like the perfect procrastination-trip for my reading week.
Ionia and Emily were happy to leave the planning to me and were mainly concerned with how to wear 3 coats on top of eachother and smuggle in another bag onto Easy Jet.

We land in Rome and spend about 2 minutes contemplating public transport before admitting that there is really no other alternative but to get an insanely expensive taxi to our Airbnb. It quickly becomes evident that driver's licenses, red lights, speed limits, and lanes on motorways have not yet been invented in Italy. At one point our driver is holding her phone with one hand, typing on her SatNav with the other and steering at 80mph with her knees.

Pulling up outside our Airbnb- thankful for our lives and our limbs being intact- we are so happy to see the stylish interior and helpful Valentina. The place is so cute and, in true Italian style, comes with balsamic vinegar and olive oil for all our culinary needs. Valentina is even nice enough to recommend the local clubbing areas where all the American students go. Despite my lack of attendance at Motion or Theckla in Bristol, even I'm up for a night out in Rome.

For our first meal, we -obviously- head to the Jewish Quarter to check out the local's alternative to Golders Green High Street. We know we've found the right place when we walk out into a square and suddenly men standing outside 3 different restaurants start calling us forward, all offering the best food and, most importantly, the best deals. We settle on a schnitzel, chips and drink for €15, and congratulate ourselves on our bargaining skills. Upon entering the restaurant, one waiter tells us he is having an 'after party' at his place later, yet we politely decline his very kind invitation.

Ancient Golders Green 

Up early the next morning to get to our entry at the Vatican. It takes an incredibly long time to walk from the entrance of the Vatican to the entrance of the museum. We get through it by promising ourselves an ice cream and Ionia promises herself she'll meet the Pope, ignoring all evidence to the contrary. We whizz through endless rooms of Annunciations, Assumptions, Dormitions and Depositions and just head to the bits we find interesting. It is pretty astonishing to see the Laocoon and Belvedere Torso in the flesh, despite having to view them mainly through the screens of other tourist's iPads.
The Belvedere Torso 
Front row with the Laocoon... 
We get to the Sistine Chapel and Emily and Ionia leave me to stare around in awe whilst they attempt rebellious photographs. It's amazing to see the scale of the famous painting and makes me notice details I hadn't in reproductions, such as the many gory references of death amongst the muscular bodies of the Last Judgement. When we leave, it becomes apparent that Emily and Ionia had not in fact looked up at the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.
Sneaky shot. 
We then spend ages in the queue for the Basilica, but it's fine as we have our ice creams and it's pretty sunny. Ionia is, of course, content in the belief she will see her mate Pope Francis soon. Upon seeing the famous balcony, she runs forward as if he will suddenly appear to greet her. Unfortunately, I don't think he got the memo we were coming.

I'm sure he'll come out any moment, Ions. 
The Baldacchino 

To make up for this disappointment, we are all overwhelmed with the Basilica. It is truly magnificent. The Baroque drama is stunning. I am so excited to see Bernini's Baldacchino and Cathedra Petri. Even though I wrote an essay on them earlier this year it was only based on photos and that doesn't compare with seeing it in reality. Emily, however, mentions the similarity with the word 'dabuccino' and proceeds to explain the drug connotations. Meanwhile, Ionia finds a statue 'dabbing' and of course poses with it. This is the appropriate modern way to appreciate age-old artistic treasures, obvz.
Caught in the act of a tasteful dab. 
At least she got this touching moment. 
After the excitement, and the dabs, we head home and nap in preparation for our night on the town. For dinner, Emily serves up pasta with Kosher wine to delight any Italian/Jewish bachelor. We then spend approximately 3 hours getting ready and forcing down the wine which -unsurprisingly for €4- is disgusting.
Roll up, men. 

We walk to the local clubbing area Valentina had recommended. G-Bar turns out to be a metre by metre wide cupboard selling alcohol. Inside, squished up against the walls are adults who are double the age of the popstars whose songs are being played on loud speakers. Unable to actually squeeze into the bar, we stand outside, googling better places to go. We are offered bracelets by a dodgy dude, and have to stop Ionia taking it when she insists she thinks it is free. We order an Uber to a club called Vicious which promises to be the place to be for young people in Rome on a Wednesday night.
In our Uber, we drive all the way around the Colosseum and get stunning views of it lit up at night. This is when Emily utters the timeless phrase: 'how cool would it be to have a house party there.' Everything in perspective as per.
The ultimate way to view the Colosseum: through an Uber window 
After pulling up outside Vicious, 2 things become clear: 1) Vicious has been closed for years. 2) Our Uber driver absolutely had known the entire time that we would be needing a return journey.
Taking ourselves back home, we think wistfully of the Bristol triangle and ponder whether we should go to the waiter's 'after party' after all.
We go to bed disgruntled but are kept company by ambiguous noises outside which could be tortured ducks, mating cats, murdered babies or a combination of all of the above.

On our third day, we intend to see the Colosseum but, after googling we would need to pay entry, agree we got some great views last night from our Uber. Instead, we opt for another kosher meal, which seems like a good trade. On the menu, we are offered: sheep entrails, cow cheeks, cow tail, beef shreds and fried brain. We get the far more appetizing and just as adventurous schnitzel and chips. During the meal, Ionia enlightens us with 'if you sleep in contact lenses, your dreams will be in HD.'
With our tummies exploding out of our jeans, we actually do fit in some more culture with a walk to the Pantheon and the Trevi fountain. The streets around town are beautiful yet the only real adjective we can think of is 'Italian'.
The Trevi Fountain
When a fellow tourist failed to take our photo, we resorted to the ancient method of The Selfie Stick
Italian streets are very 'Italian' 
Finishing our trip, we attempt to get some dinner in the airport (yes, the underlying theme of our holiday does seem to be food.) We are about to buy a tomato penne dish when I ask the chef if it's vegetarian. He replies 'Yes... well, there's only a little bit of meat.' Ah.
Upon boarding the plane (with our left foot as Emily insists) we are chatting rather loudly. Em is educating us about drug lingo. An air hostess turns, beaming, to greet us and Emily proclaims "I'll tell you what dropping and bombing is." A great way to start a flight.

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