Thursday, November 11, 2010

roman carnival

I set out from Switzerland at 6am to take full advantage of a Travel Day on my pass. I got all the way down to Naples, Itlay by 4 and spent the night there. Didn´t do much in Naples. It was the only place I´ve ever been where I truly didn´t feel comfortable. Italian police squads lined the streets near my hostel adorned with bullet proof vests and submachine guns. I saw a guy in a business suit knocked unconscious in the middle of the sidewalk on a busy street. So I decided to just grab a pizza and call it a day.

In the morning I took a short train ride down to the Amalfi Coast and stayed two nights in a little fishing village called Atrani. When I got there the first thing I did was jump headlong into the Mediterranean. The water was as warm and azure as I had hoped. At night I sat on a bench overlooking the sea and watching a lightning storm. I ate a ham and cheese sub my Aunt and Uncle had packed for me while watching waves crash over the breakwater and lighting flash across the dark Tyrrhenian water.

On my second and only full day on the Amalfi Coast I hiked to Positano. It was about 9km up to Bomerano, then another 7km along the famous "Pathway of the Gods" into Positano. It was probably the single most tiring day of my trip, not as much from the length but the constant climbs and descents. The towns on the Amalfi Coast are built on cliffs, so walking from one to the next simulates an epic stairmaster workout. Got some good workout out of my headband at least. It was worth it though. The sun-filled panoramic view unfolded in front of me on my way down to Positano and I immediately knew I was going to love Italy. I took the bus back to Atrani though....

The next day I hiked up to Ravello and an ancient castle atop Atrani for panoramic views of Amalfi and Atrani. Then I took a bus to Pompei to explore the ruins wrought by Mt Vesuvius 2000 years ago. After a few hours I caught a train up to Rome where I would be spending four nights.

Like a fool I didn´t book a hostel in Rome and was left wandering the sketchy streets around the train station while managing to find nearly every full hostel around. But eventually I ran into a Persian guy at the station who ran a B&B nearby that was cheaper than all the hostels.

If you´ve ever been to Rome, your visit probably closely resembles mine. For your first visit, there isn´t much variation in what you want to see. The Colloseum, the Roman Forum, The Vatican Museums, St. Peter´s Basillica, the Pantheon, Palantine Hill, Campodoglio, Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain.... and so on.

Rome is a gigantic, well-oiled tourist machine. Buy the ticket, wait in line, take the picture. Rinse and repeat.

But what a great city. Centuries of history around every corner, heaps of religious relics, and gelato galore. I used my three days to walk through the city, and Rome is a walker´s paradise. Every street boasts authentic cafe´s, chintzy tourist traps, pizzerias, shamless street performers, gelaterias, and people from every corner of the world. Rome is the ultimate tourist retailer. Whatever you´re after, they have it in stock, and available in bulk.

After four nights and three full days I felt used up and laid-out, like a 10-year old who spent his weeks allowance at a carnival on the dizzy-rides and too much cotton candy.

After Rome I stayed in Assisi for a night which was a welcome down-shift. I saw St. Francis´ Basillica, the crucifix that supposedly inspired St. Francis, and had a day wandering the cobble stone streets where you can find all variations of religous knick-knacks imaginable.

Next on the menu is Tuscanny, where I expect to meet Michaelangelo´s David, the Leaning Tower, and more wine from a box.

No comments:

Post a Comment