Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Hello, Limoncello

Oh, Rome... The longer I am here, the more I fall in love with you. Sometimes, I really do feel like I'm having a relationship with this city. Yesterday I went to the Vatican for the first time, and I'm pretty sure it changed my life. I walked from Piazza di Spagna to Vatican Square and I surprisingly did not even have to ask for directions. Now that I've been here for nearly a month, it's amazing to see how well I know my way around the city. I've even adjusted to the buses, which is a big step up from when I first arrived. I spent the entire morning in the Vatican, just appreciating how beautiful it was. I'm not a religious person, at least not in the Christian sense. I don't consider myself a Catholic or a Christian or anything else in between. I've celebrated Christian ceremonies up until my confirmation, and spent many years studying through Catholic schools, but I just don't believe in it. Even for a non-follower such as myself, it was truly amazing to be there. It was breathtaking; the angels and saints carved from marble, the art looking down on it's admirers proudly, the nuns chatting amongst one another about their love of religion (at least I'm assuming so, since I of course don't understand Italian). It was just pure heaven (no pun intended) to be there. Fortunately there was a mass beginning that afternoon in which I got to sit in on. It was difficult to understand because the priest spoke Italian, and from what I could tell, had strep throat. But just to be in this atmosphere was lovely. 
Me with my own tiny Swiss Guard. Fits right in my pocket.
On my way out, I saw the changing of the Swiss Guards, which was really a sight to see. These men protect the Pope with their life and stand outside with 8 foot poles while wearing a puffy pantsuit with stripes of red, yellow, blue and green. If you're currently unemployed and thinking, "Hey, this sounds like something I could do!" let me give you the down low. First of all, you must be a Swiss citizen who is a male and over 5"8. Secondly, you must go through a 3 hour interview process while talking only about your life goals and what kind of person you think you are. Saying this, you might want to just go ahead and hand your resume into somewhere a little more realistic like McDonald's or Walmart. After that, I went shopping and exploring the city. I visited the area called Campo di Fiori (field of flowers) where my friend Shayna lived last year. I was immediately jealous because of the location but also because it is the best market-area in the city. Every corner you turn you find yourself faced with tables of fresh fruits, meats, vegetables and breads. Maybe it's best that I don't live there, since all my money would be spent before 10 am. 
I met up with my good friend Jeanny, who is one of the most hilarious people in the entire world. The nice thing about Jeanny is that I can act like a complete fool and she will still put up with me. I was waiting for her on the corner of Dior on Via Condotti and I met a bunch of Americans from Rochester - just a few hours away from Niagara Falls! The men who always try to sell you roses approached us no less than a dozen times, and the one American really showed me how to get these guys off your back. A stern "no" really does it. When another came up after her demonstration, I said, "NO, no thank you," and she shook her head in disappointment. "No thank you is too polite. Just no," she said. So when another man came up and I said "no", he left immediately. Jeanny and I went out for dinner at this adorable little restaurant which also happened to be my Thanksgiving dinner. We order wine (red and white), brucetta, salad, pizza, and pasta. I cannot get over the pasta here, really, it is just too good to be true. Our waiter gave us free chutes of champagne (yummy!) and limoncello shots. Jeanny was disappointed he brought us limoncello because after a hard night of drinking one night in her native Germany, she threw up, and therefore, can never drink limoncello again. This turned out well for me because I had both of them, and they were delicious, even though they looked like highlighters. 
By the time we left the restaurant, we were so tipsy and satisfied with delicious food and rich wine. We walked a little further down the cobble stone street and I was telling Jeanny more about my feelings towards Italian men and how I hate that they think it's appropriate to chase a woman, touch her hair, and demand she goes out with you before even knowing her name. I thought it would be a wonderful idea for me to spend the rest of the night acting like an Italian man, slapping bums and saying "Ciao" creepily while drooling. My first (and only) victim walked by, and I knew it was my chance. A group of men coming mine and Jeanny's way, bums ready to be spanked. Once I passed them, I hit on of them so hard, I think his butt flew up all the way to his brain (but than again, this is a man, so his brain was probably replaced by an ass decades ago). I walked further, making Jeanny look like the culprit. The man looked her dead in the eye, but she was so embarrassed, all she could do was laugh. A couple waiters at another restaurant saw this and waved us over. They sat us down outside and gave us more free champagne. This is another reason why I love Italy... The country is expensive, but if you play your cards right - free alcohol! The one waiter asked us why we slapped their butts and I explained the situation about how Italian men think it's over to poke and taunt me. They laughed again, because as it turned out, this group of men were... Canadian. Jeanny and I could not control our laughter upon hearing this, and I told the waiter I was Canadian. He didn't believe this irony, and so I had to go as far as showing him my driver's license. Jeanny and I, being the comedians we are, decided to tell this group of waiters that our names are Bradolf Pittler and Chingy.
We spent the rest of the night interviewing passerbys as to where they were from. My favourite was a group of guys from Scotland who were so taken aback by my social skills. I kept asking questions to the one guy, and I really don't remember much except that I asked him if anyone ever told him he looked like Jesse Eisenburg from The Social Network. All he said in response was, "You mean Jewish?" Once these guys continued their venture through the streets, Jeanny and I knew it was time to go home. We live in different areas of the city and we took different buses. I remember sitting on the bus, looking outside at the history surrounding me, listening to my iPod and eating sour candies (I do not remember where or when I got these, but I woke up the next morning with a couple left in my little paper bag, so I knew that I hadn't dreamt of this). My other clue to these candies being real is that I woke up with some sticky sugar on the side of my face, and I was almost positive that I hadn't rubbed my cheeks in the sugar bowl. At least I hadn't done that since last week.

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