I changed my schedule around a bit today to have an extra hour in Rome. I figured that this would be plenty of time to allow me to go to both the Titian show and the Colosseum. It would have been, too, if I hadn’t been diverted by some camera problems.
I woke up fairly early (not as early as I’d wanted, but I was very tired) and headed down to find the cheap hostel breakfast. It turns out you just bought a ticket for it at the hostel, and then went to the restaurant next door. I had my little table for one, coffee, juice, and two pastries… Not bad four a couple euro. Before long I saw another lonely traveller come in, hand over a ticket just like mine, and take the table next to me.
Well, we got to talking. He’s Australian. He had arrived in Rome from Barcelona the night before and didn’t have much of a plan. I showed him on my map all of the cool things I saw yesterday. We both wanted to see the colosseum, but I was going to head by the titian exhibit first.
We both finished breakfast at around the same time, and since that church with the Bernini was so close to the hostel (and en route to my next destination) I agreed to show him where it was. Since I’d only had a few minutes with the sculpture last night, I couldn’t resist going in for another look. I still think it’s my favorite church in Rome.
It was here that I learned that my camera battery had been fried. It may sound strange, but this is the first time I’ve plugged it in to a wall outlet since Istanbul. I always just let it charge attached to my computer, but I don’t travel with that big old thing. I think that perhaps the outlet adaptor that I have for my iPad isn’t working for my camera.
Unlike last time this happened, I actually remembered I have an iPad with a camera. And thank goodness, at least I have some way to record this day. It means less photos overall, but more that I can share with you immediately… like all of these photos of tha fabulous church.
My new friend must have been adequately impressed because we decided to stick together for the day. He didn’t usually spend much time looking at art on his travels, but you know, when in Rome. Plus, I don’t know if I emphasized this enough before, but: this Titian thing is kind of a big deal.
There was a short queue to get in to the Scuderie del Quirinale, and the tickets were not inexpensive. But this is not a chance you have often. These paintings do not often travel. To have the chance to see them all, at once, in one place… It’s exciting.
And of course it was fabulous. Painting after painting was totally amazing. It’s hard to believe what Titian was doing in the 16th century. I loved that no photography was allowed in the exhibit. It forced people to do something that I like to call “looking with their eyeballs.” Instead of looking through their camera screen (because it’s always a point and shoot, never a camera with a viewfinder), in which case they might as well not be there taking up space. They could see those paintings on much larger screens for much less money from the comfort of their own homes.
I was happy to see one little girl there who couldn’t have been more than seven years old. She was enthralled with the paintings. Even if she doesn’t remember it in a few years, I have to believe that it’s a good things for young children to see masterpieces. That experience is part of her foundation now. I can’t help but be a little jealous.
I did take one sneaky photo, enlisting Sean as my accomplice. Oh, this is when we finally learned each others names. Funny the things that get by you.
The original plan was to head straight to the colosseum after this, but I really wanted to find a new camera battery. We went into several stores, but it became apparent that we would have to go as far as the Termini to find it. Our detour had already been long enough, so we decided to carry on without it. I still had my iPad, and he could email me photos from his camera.
The line at the colosseum didn’t seem too long, but it wasn’t much extra to go in with a tour and skip the lines. I love a good tour, and we all had queuing, so this seemed like an ideal situation. It was an hour long, very interesting and pretty gory. I feel like a lot of the facts and figures that we have today were distorted in their time to make certain emperors or gladiators sound more impressive. But who knows. Maybe someone really did kill 12,000 men in 12 years.
The sad part for me is all of the dead animals. It might sound ironic that it’s not for all the people killed, but here’s the thing: the gladiators knew exactly what they were getting into. Yes, the fights were to the death, but most of the time the other gladiator would give the loser a chance to forfeit before he killed him in combat. The losers were rarely sentenced to death by the emperor, if ever. And the criminals who were forced to fight? Well, they knew what they were risking when the decided to break the law. And they had a chance at freedom.
The animals, on the other hand, that’s just sad. Especially the ones that weren’t even used for sport. They once made a reenactment of Noah’s ark, filled with pairs of generally harmless animals (zebras, giraffes, gazelles). After they’d been allowed to wander around the arena for a few hours so the audience could look at them and enjoy them, they emperor’s archers shot and killed all of them. Why? What’s the point of that? During the fighting, more than 500 lions were slayed in a single day. It’s hard to see where even the sport is in that, it must have happened so quickly.
I couldn’t stick around long after the tour. Sean and I looked around for a bit, then I had to run.
I was headed to a family friend’s vineyard B&B. I had to make a quick stop at the hostel to grab my luggage and then get to the bus station. It was an easy enough journey. I was able to look around the shops at the termini, but no one had a battery that would work for my camera. I’m glad that Sean and I hadn’t gone their earlier and wasted our precious time in Rome.
The bus was about a 3 hour journey and I think I dozed through most of the first half. I did wake up to see some beautiful Italian countryside, though.
The woman in the seats across from me was eyeballing me every so often. I don’t think many young, solo American girls come out this way.
At 6:20, the time we were due into my stop, the bus pulled into a big parking lot in the middle of nowhere. In a string of Italian I hear the words “Ascoli Piceno,” which is my stop. I hop off the bus. Dwight, the family friend, was meant to pick me up from Ascoli Piceno and take me the rest of the way, but I don’t see any one. I don’t even really see a ticket building or anything. I start walking away from the bus area.
A bus pulls up beside me and the woman who was watching me earlier is by the driver, saying something to me. Apparently, this is not Ascoli Piceno. I had to switch busses to get to Ascoli, and this was the bus. The woman must be today’s edition of my guardian angel, because I would have been stranded in literally the middle of nowhere with no phone or Internet without her.
We tried to chat a little on the bus and she told me that I was very elegant for a young American. She lives in Ascoli, her husband works there. But the language barrier makes long conversation difficult.
I was worried that Dwight might have given up on me with the bus being so late, but he was there when I arrived. We walked around Ascoli for a while and went straight to a camera shop. Batteries are expensive, but cheaper than a whole new camera I suppose.
Ascoli Piceno was very beautiful. The weather here is perfect. There’s a part of me that never wants to leave. We stopped and had prosecco at a bar where he’s having a wine tasting next month, and then headed onwards. His vineyard and B&B are actually a part of Offida, I think. On the way back, we stopped at his neighbor’s restaurant for dinner.
I love it here. It’s so beautiful and quiet, I never want to leave. You can see every star in the sky. Im so excited to have a chance to rest a bit after all that craziness in Rome, and see more of the real Italy.