Rome...also known as Roma, the Eternal City, Urbs Sacra (the Sacred City, Caput Mundi (Capital of the world) and because it was built on them, the City of the Seven Hills. We arrived in Rome after almost 6 months in Asia and were prepared for some pretty severe culture shock. I was actually looking forward to some cooler temps and quality Italian cuisine~after my bout with Dengue Fever and food poisoning, I was easily 15-20 pounds thinner. It was time to fatten up on the "3 p's" pizza, pasta, and, pastries. We have 4 weeks scheduled here and are now half way through. I don't know how anybody comes here for any less than a week, the city is too large and there is way to much to see and do in any less than that. We were happy to have the extra time to relax on our rooftop patio and have some days in the apartment we rented to just relax, listen to music, and cook (we haven't had a proper kitchen for months). The first thing we made was grilled cheese and chilli!
It was quite a shock to hear the sounds of a big city again: sirens, trains, and the everyday hustle and bustle are something I kinda missed. We are staying in a area of Rome called Pigneto, a former working class neighborhood about a 15 minute bus ride from the city center. Pigneto is Rome's answer to Williamsburg in Brooklyn, NY. Trendy bars, bistros, and shops are everywhere and the young locals and immigrants mingle with the older, long time residents. I still haven't got used to the business hours here, most places open for a short time in the morning, then close during the afternoon before reopening for the evening. Its true that Italy is a night culture, but it has been a difficult adjustment as we have tended to wake early and be in by 9-10 (at the latest!) while in Asia to get the most out of the days (there also isn't much night life where we were in SE Asia). I was able to stay up to almost 3 am a few nights ago in order to see a band that happened to be playing at a club down the road from us. Sin Ropas is a two piece husband/wife team that plays what I would call psychedelic folk (one of my favorite genres). It was a great show and I had a chance to chat with the members for quite a while after the set.
The apartment we are staying in is situated in a courtyard off the main street in Pigneto. It is tiny (like 140 square feet tiny) but it is well equipped and very cozy. It is nice to have our own space again and the roof top patio is killer! The girls we rent from are great and recently took us to a local underground festival called Enotica (you may have to google translate this page). The festival is underground in a couple ways...first, it is put on by group of artists and musicians that have occupied the grounds of an old fort for years. The vibe is very counter culture with open air art exhibitions literally spilling over the walls. Second~ and here's the coolest part~ the wine tasting portion of the festival takes place literally underground, in the hidden passages within the fort.