Saturday, December 16, 2017

Reflections From Roma #03

Reflections From Roma #03
17 dicembre 2017

Photo Update Alert:

Hello there… Rodger French here.

We are some days returned from our trip to Toscano (Tuscany) and I have been trying to figure out how to write about it. We spent six nights in Firenze (Florence) and three in Siena (Siena), with a day trip to Lucca thrown into the mix. We traveled between cities by train and bus, and did some serious urban walking. We went to museums and churches and were moved and dazzled by endless displays of great art. We took photoz, collected post cards and assorted memorabilia, and even bought a lamp.

And we ate “cibo toscano” (Tuscan food). Molto cibo toscano.

All of which has left me overwhelmed, at least concerning this posting. So, since there are a zillion travel guides about Italia/Toscana, most written by people more skilled than I who are paid to write them, I have elected not to go into great detail about the wonderful places we visited. Which, I admit, is a bit lame on my part. Permit me to offer instead a few redundant yet useful tourist tips at no additional charge.

Preparation - Do your reading. Also, remember Rule #1: Wear the best walking shoes you can afford. And, of course, the Prime Directive: SECURE YOUR PASSPORT. The rest is commentary.

Logistics - Go in the off-season, when it’s colder/wetter. There are still loads of tourists, but not the typical ZTA (Zombie Tourist Apocalypse™). Stay somewhere close to il centro della città, so you can walk everywhere.

[Hospitality Sidebar - A comfortable pillow arrangement is essential to a good night’s sleep. Unfortunately, the odds of finding that in Italy are roughly the same as drawing to an inside straight. Or electing a Democrat in Alabama. It could happen, but don’t count on it.]

[Transportation Sidebar - Traveling by rail or bus here is quite user-friendly. When it’s time to board the train/bus, however, there is no screwing around. Get to the platform early and gird your loins. And should you have a general boarding ticket, choose your seats decisively and with an eye as to where you can stash your stuff. Common sense, true; but it helps avoid any unnecessary Italian drama.]

Attractions - Visit all the museums, palaces, and churches you can stand and get use to to looking up. If possible, arrive early and try to pace your visits to stay comfortably ahead of/behind the inevitable tour groups. Take loads of photoz, but no flash, and remember: Selfie sticks are Satan’s toothpicks.

Food - Look for dining opportunities away from the grand piazzas and major attractions. Finding small establishments on side streets with actual Italian butts in the seats is a worthwhile goal. Also, unless you actually enjoy queuing up for meals, arrive early (by Italian standards) and avoid the throngs.

Being relatively unenlightened, I still eat meat, although less than I use to. But, while I commend my vegetarian friends on making that choice, I have to say that if preparation of meat may be considered an art… well, we have had some fine dining experiences in Roma, but cibo toscano, especially in Siena, is just ridiculously good.

[Testimonial Sidebar - If you make it as far as Firenze, please plan on a trip to Siena. What a beautiful city. And make a point of visiting la Biblioteca Piccolomini nel Duomo di Siena. It is breathtaking to the event horizon of magic.]

So there you have it; a short, but brief posting, considerately unencumbered by a surplus of information. I reckon many of you have already been or are planning to come to Italy (and if you’re able, you really should), so you can fill in the details for yourself. Meanwhile, Anne and I are hunkering down for our first Italian Christmas, our major outing being to Teatro dell'Opera Roma for a production of “La Damnation da Faust” by Hector Berlioz. A lighthearted holiday musical.
Buon Natale. Onward.