"NEVER talk to the Ciao Bellas!" In Spain, they're the Hola Guapas, and I hated them more than anything, but somehow the Italian Ciao Bellas seemed more harmless. Maybe because I was too intrigued with everything else to really notice them. I just got back from a loooong vacation in Florence and Rome, visiting Shauna, Megan and Taniko, and I loved every second. I don't think I could fit a decent description of the bizarre characters I met so I will revert to the classic bullet point of events and people I thought were interesting:
- The first day I somehow found myself on the banks of the Arno, drinking white wine out of Dixie cups with a couple Italian-Tunisians. Learned some Arabic, finally went to Thanksgiving dinner at the girls' culinary-school neighbors'. At midnight. With a massive headache.
- We were having dinner at a little trattoria by the girls' apartment when we met an older guy who turned out to be a Prada exec in Florence on business. We kicked it for a while, he told us some jokes, and left. We sat there thinking, Did we just make friends with a Prada exec? I think so!
- Megan turned 22. A night for the record books including: an excess of free shots, a Montanan wearing a cowboy hat and a disgusting t-shirt, and of course, Giacomo, an Italian who spoke Spanish, inspiring the girls to overuse the word "Spaniard."
- Saw Michaelangelo's David (17 feet of amazingness). A few days later, I was at the Palazzo Pitti when I saw an old guy in a UW hat so I started talking to him, only to hear a rousing critique of Michaelangelo's sculpting ability (who does that?!), topped off by a graphic and disdainful description of David's manhood. He even went so far as to bust out his guidebook and point out how poorly depicted David's pubes were. This is a true story, unfortunately.
- The four of us watched the world's most beautiful sunset from the Boboli Gardens on the city wall. This is an instance in which a picture is worth a thousand words, but the sun setting over the Tuscan hills was a moment I will never ever forget!
- Was standing in the SMN train station when a middle-aged guy came up and started talking to me, ignoring the fact that I don't speak Italian, and proceeded to carry my bags for me and sit next to me on the train. After two hours of hilarious conversation (we knew NONE of the same words), he got off, and I thought, 'I could not possibly meet another randomer on this trip. My quota is definitely met.' But I was wrong, enter:
- Angelo. The most attractive Italian man I had seen my entire time there sat in the compartment next to mine. I took a nap so as not to stare. But he eventually moved over and started talking to me, in ENGLISH, so I was forced to look at him (life's rough sometimes). Angelo, as it turns out, is an Italian TV star. Angelo also owns a Vespa and was willing to carry my bags. Long story short, I saw a bit of the Eternal City on the back of his bike, and all I can say about Rome is SHOCK AND AWE. I can't wait to get back next summer. Angelo turned out to be less than awesome, but the point is... well, there really isn't a point to this story, actually.
- For various reasons, I found myself on the opposite end of the city than I'd intended the day I left, and I was trying to get the metro back to Termini. I checked out of my hotel and the manager tried to tell me something... but unfortunately, all I know in Italian is 'Non capisco,' 'Molto grazie,' and 'Me dice dov'e devo scendere per Castello Medici?' and that wasn't getting me anywhere. All I have to say is THANK GOD FOR THE PERUVIAN MAID, who translated the manager's bad news into Spanish: "No hay Metro por razon de la huelga!" Huelga...huelga... STRIKE. Yes, my only means of making my flight was closed due to strike, and since all the taxis were full, my only option was a 50 euro private car to the airport. Do they have any idea what an intern's budget is? Eventually I got a taxi and made it to my plane at the last minute, but the last morning in Rome was NOT a fun one. On the plus side, the taxi driver was funny, and despite the fact that I kept trying to pass Spanish off as Italian, we had a good time on the way to Ciampino.