BootsnAll Travel Network

Rome: And the Heavens Opened

Friday September 2nd, and Bec and I flew from the heat of London into the heat of Rome. We had booked to stay at a campsite not too far from the centre of town, which thankfully provided a shuttle bus from the airport. We had an hour or so to kill between collecting our bags after the flight and getting the bus, and due to the stuffy air in the airport, decided we should wait outside. When we opened the door the heat hit us like a Joe Frazier left hook. The UK this certainly was not.

After a pretty decent nights sleep in our little tent, we caught another shuttle bus from the campsite into town at 9am, which would drop us somewhere near Vatican City – that much we knew. The campsite had provided us with a little pocket map which would eventually come in very handy. But you see, the thing about maps is, you actually need to know your own whereabouts on the map before you can work out which way to go, otherwise the map is about as useless as tits on a bull (as my Dad would say). As we got off the bus Bec, who had been to Rome four years earlier, stayed at the same campsite, and possibly taken this exact same shuttle bus, seemed to find her bearings, “Well, this sort of looks familiar, I think it could be this way. ” But then a bit of doubt crept in, “Although, everyone else from the bus seems to be walking that way, we should probably just follow them.”

“Nah, bugger that, lets just go this way, I’m sure we’ll find it.”

We walked a short way until we found a street sign, and then pulled out our map in the hope of spotting our newly located street. Fat, bloody, chance. After a few more minutes of wandering around in a bit of a daze, I admitted defeat and we headed back to where the bus had dropped us off. From there, all we had to do was pick up the trail of middle-aged tourists, and within 3 minutes we found the walls of Vatican City, which then lead us around to the wonderful St. Peter’s Square and the mesmerising St. Peter’s Basilica. We latched onto a free tour of the Basilica, and spent the next hour or so marvelling at the grandness of the building. It’s a little hard to grasp the sheer size of it – our tour guide, a young Englishman named Harry who was studying in Rome, informed us that it was over 600 feet long, at a rough guess about the length of an Aussie Rules field, and that the Statue of Liberty could stand within the dome of the Basilica and not touch the roof. Like I said, a little hard to grasp the size.

We walked on to the rather underwhelming Colosseum, and the more interesting Roman Forum. The earliest bus back to our campsite was at 4.30pm, and so after around 6 or 7 hours of walking, we were due a beer and a decent feed. Back at the campsite restaurant, I tucked into the biggest plate of pasta I’d ever laid eyes on – after ten minutes of eating, it looked as though I’d hardly touched it. But I somehow found somewhere to stash it all, and went back to the tent for a lie down before it got dark. Suddenly, Bec was zipping up the tent – I’d been asleep.

“What time is it?” I asked.

Be looked at her watch, “8.38pm”

“Shit, that’s early,” I managed to respond, before putting my head back down and drifting off again, not to wake until 9.15, the next morning. It’s hard work this travelling.

The following day we strolled lazily around the old cobbled streets of Rome, passing from Piazza to Piazza, and past the Pantheon. But the highlight really came that night. After sitting outside our tent for a cheap supermarket dinner of cheese, bread, and salami, we were treated to a vicious thunderstorm erupting over our heads. Lightning lit up the sky like a tourist taking a photo of the earth, with the thunder running in almost immediately to reprimand them with its deep Jabba-the-Hut voice for using a flash on such a piece of art. It was breathtaking.

Another scorcher of a day followed, whereby we spent the day lazing by the swimming pool, reading and swimming. Again, just like the day before, the heat gave way to menacingly dark clouds and another thunderstorm hit the campsite. This time, however, we were not lucky enough to already be in our tent. We were returning from the supermarket across the road with our dinner, when the small refreshing rain drops on our back turned almost instantly to grape sized plops of water, drowning us and our shopping bags. We couldn’t make it back to our tent without taking refuge, and stopped in the foyer of the campsite toilets to wait out the rain. About twenty of us stood there, half returning from the supermarket like us, others walking out of the showers wrapped in towels to be greeted by a much bigger shower. We watched as wave after wave of water was blown past the foyer door, and peanut sized hailstones began falling and bouncing into the foyer to inspect our toes.

After ten or so minutes we made the 50 metre dash to our tent, jumping over the raging river that had formed in the pebbled road on the way, and arrived there absolutely drenched. We managed to half dry ourselves, and set out a blanket on one of the beds. And there we sat, with our dinner of cold pasta, and precooked potatoes and brocolli, with a $3.50 bottle of Italian wine, and watched the sky put on another dazzling show. Provided the tent kept out the rain, it was bliss.

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