Drumroll Please: I have an announcement

We have the week off for “White Week”, and all 2.5 Weisbergers are on a plane to Belgium. Why 2.5? Rachel will be 20 weeks pregnant tomorrow, exactly halfway.

I’m writing this after putting my current book back in my backpack, The Expectant Father, 4th Edition. Next on my list is Be Prepared: A Practical Handbook for New Dads (it was listed as “Frequently bought together” with the first book on Amazon). We’ve had several ultrasounds and appointments now, and everything seems fine: 10 fingers, 10 toes, little button nose, thin nucal transparency, all the things you hope for when you look at the little alien growing inside your wife. If the kid hits the due date, (s)he’ll be born on July 8, 2018, which also happens to be our two year wedding anniversary. So, it seems like there’s a pretty damn good chance that we’re going to be parents.

We’re both happy, and we’re both nervous. It’s more than a little weighty, creating a person that you plan to take care of for the rest of your life. So, when people ask if we’re excited the answer is “Of course”, but there’s definitely some fear back there. These days, I listen more intently when people talk about having kids, and Barack Obama himself offered his perspective recently when he was on Dave Letterman’s new Netflix show, “My Next Guest Needs No Introduction”. He said that having a kid is like living with your heart outside your body. You watch them stumble around in the world, completely unaware of how vulnerable and terribly important they are to your well-being, and I guess you do your best to manage that.

Sounds pretty scary, but we’ve also had Rosie for a couple years now, so I think we’ll be fine.

We’ll have our next appointment on February 27 or 28 (I forget), the week we return to school after this break, and that will be our big morphological exam with Dr. Muscatello. Our normal doctor is Dottoressa Anna Paola Cavalieri. She’s great: speaks good English, very calm and considerate, feels trustworthy and knowledgeable. And we’re glad we’ve found somebody we trust, because we’re planning to have the baby here, in Italy.

When we tell people this, they tend to be surprised, which is understandable – “Why choose to have a baby in a foreign country, where you don’t speak the language, don’t know the culture, and you have no family to rely on?” If you guessed the main reason was money, you were absolutely correct. We don’t have health insurance in the US anymore, which means if there were any complications whatsoever the birth could easily cost us tens of thousands of dollars. I know it’s brave for me to put this out there, but I think American health care is too expensive. There, I said it. Unfortunately, however, having the baby here in Italy will not make him/her an Italian citizen. Europe doesn’t treat citizenship as a birthright the same way we do in the US. We can still name the baby Luigi or Francesca though, so his/her Italian roots shan’t be forgotten.

As a final note, you may have noticed that I have gone to great care to leave the sex of the baby unknown here. We do know the baby’s sex, but we have decided to keep it a secret. At least for the moment. And next time, if there is a next time, Rachel and I have already decided that even we don’t want to know! Rachel’s mom asked if we were Amish when we told her this, which is understandable. But I think we agree wholeheartedly: surprises are fun, and the gender matters a whole lot less than everybody being happy and healthy. So, we’re focused on first things first. And don’t worry, once (s)he’s out and about, then you’ll know what sex (s)he is.

So that’s the news. We’ve been enjoying Brussels for its waffles, frites, and beer, and tomorrow we’ll take a train to Bruges, followed by Gent. We’re going to enjoy the rest of our time in Europe as best as we can, just the two of us, by traveling as often as possible to try great food, see beautiful architecture, and experience different cultures. Because soon, our life will change quite a bit.

 

Non Troppo Corto

Resilience

Everybody here has a blast while I sit there wondering what’s so funny.

It didn’t occur to me when I moved here that getting a haircut would be a little scary. Including today’s, I’ve had three since moving to Italy, all at a barber shop called “Resilienza” in my neighborhood, Ponte Milvio. Indeed, I’ve needed a bit of resilience to keep coming back here.

The barbers have been very nice, which is why I keep coming back, but establishing a new relationship with a barber as a foreigner has been a little bumpy. The language barrier is one obvious issue, but it’s not the only problem: another hurdle is called “the metric system”, and another, “cultural norms”.

The first time I got a haircut, I gave the barber the same directions I give in the states, albeit in broken Italian: “Number three on the sides, and then do something with the top.” We went back and forth for a minute trying to be understood, and then he gave me the thumbs up and got his clippers. He plugged it in, put on the 3 guard, and proceeded to shave the side of my head nearly down to the skin. Thankfully, he saw my eyes go wide and stopped, “Troppo corto?” “Yeah…that’s pretty short…”

I should have anticipated this; Pulp Fiction taught me a long time ago that the metric system changes things in Europe. As it turns out, a #3 in America, which means 3/8 of an inch or 10 millimeters, isn’t the same thing as a 3 in Europe, which means 3 millimeters.

The barber did his best to fix it, but there was no getting around trying to blend up the rest of the sides with the shorter strip he just cut, so I ended up with a very short haircut. No big deal.

Now for the problem with cultural norms. At the end of the haircut, he did the usual barber move of showing me the back of my head with a mirror, and I realized he hadn’t shaved a line around the bottom of my hair. So, I asked him to finish it. Oops. Far from being a typical request, this prompted the barber to actually call his boss over.

Barber: “This guy wants me to shave a straight line at the bottom.”
Boss: “Why do you want a line? It doesn’t look good. It looks better like this, more handsome.”
Barber: “I told him!”
Me: “Uhh…I think I’d still prefer the line. You know, if it’s ok.”
Boss: “Come on man, we have a reputation to uphold here. We can’t have people walking out of here looking like idiots. It’s bad for business.”
Me: “Yeah…”

In the end, they humored me, and, since that first haircut, I’ve stopped asking to see the back of my head. Rachel has run into similar problems with communicating what she wants, and the solution seems to be bringing a picture of the haircut you want to the barber shop with you.

Today, for haircut number 3, I walked into the same barber shop with Ryan Gosling pre-loaded onto my phone and three words of direction, “Non troppo corto.”

The guy tried his best:

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Next time I’ll try Clooney.

Several months go by…

Oh, hey! How are you? I know I haven’t checked in in a while – we got busy with school and the blog was the first thing to go. I feel bad about that, but it’s true. I’ll try to catch you up with the main updates:

  • I’ve gained 10-15 pounds in pizza, pasta, and large chunks of cheese.
  • Rachel and I flew to Greece in October.
  • Colleen, Rachel’s hetero life-mate, visited for a week over Thanksgiving break.
  • We planned to drive to Barcelona over Winter Break, but we never got Rosie a passport, which meant we couldn’t leave the country with her.
  • We explored many of Italy’s beautiful cities instead. 

    Here’s a million photos in no particular order 

     

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Nobody in the family, Rosie included, has picked up much Italian yet. We have made some good friends at our school though, and we’ve gone out for drinks or eaten lunch with them several times. Andrea, the overqualified Italian lab tech at my school, is a great friend who we’ve been lucky to meet; he has at least taught me how to curse in Italian at people in traffic. The gravity of what Italians say to each other when they’re angry is shocking to me. Here’s a couple examples:

Italian Insult: “Cornutto!” (with accompanying hand gesture)
English Translation: 
“Cuckold!”

Meaning somebody cuts you off in traffic, and you shout at them “Your wife is cheating on you, and you let it happen!”

Italian Insult: “Mortacci tua!”
English Translation: “Fuck your ancestors!”
Wow, right!? These are the kind of insult that make you stop and think about your life. And in so few syllables! They’re just a normal thing to say to somebody here.

Rome is still a difficult place to live. Over our Korean Thanksgiving dinner, Rachel’s friend Colleen assured me that Rome is no worse than New York City, except maybe Rome struggles a bit more with their trash pickup. Athens, as it turns out, is very similar, except everything is written in Wingdings. The food in Greece was fantastic, as was our personal tour of the Parthenon and the New Museum of the Parthenon. We drove to Thessaloniki, Meteora, and Delfi; Meteora was the winner. If you go to Greece, hike in those rocks. Wow.

During Winter Break we visited Florence, La Spezia (Cinque Terre), Bolzano, and Venice. We both loved Florence. It’s clean, manageable, gorgeous, and we stumbled on Spanish Tapas. Incidentally, if you have a Roman buddy named Andrea who tells you to get a Lampredotto panino while you’re in Florence, question that friendship. It’s the first food item I’ve had in…maybe ever…that I could not eat. It tasted good, don’t get me wrong, but the texture was as if somebody stripped the skin off an uncooked sausage and shoved it in a roll. Rachel couldn’t stop laughing. The Cinque Terre region was also gorgeous, a must-see. Bolzano’s Christmas market was nice, and the region is interesting for its mixture of German and Italian culture. We ate Wiener Schnitzel and Goulash for dinner. Venice was fine, but it didn’t knock my socks off. We were pooped.

And that pretty much brings us up to speed! I really am sorry that I haven’t checked in more. I want to use this thing to keep in touch with everybody we care about, and I’ve dropped the ball there. I didn’t make any resolutions about this, but maybe I’ll get more posts up this year. I hope you’ve had a good few months, and that you had a good holiday. Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year.

Dimmi

Back in September, Rachel and I took a trip to Tuscany. We had directions to an AirBnb cottage set in the middle of an olive grove in a small mountain town called Castelfranco, “Frank’s Castle.” However, our reservation came with the warning that we should follow the host’s written directions closely, because Google Maps would lead us to God knows where. So we got lost.

At 9pm on a dark Friday night, driving through unfamiliar farm towns and roundabouts with three roads to choose from but dozens of signs, we had no idea where we were. I felt completely alone in a foreign land, so I put my faith firmly in Google, hoping they had fixed their error since the last time the host wrote up his directions. Alas, no such luck. So Rachel and I went in circles, bumping over cobblestone bridges, exhausted from the work week and the three hour drive, until we were at each others’ throats and I decided we would ask for help.

I pulled our Fiat Panda into the parking lot of a bar, where three middle-aged men were sitting in plastic patio chairs out front. The one who hadn’t shaved in the longest met my eyes and sat watching me expectantly as I approached them. I was a little anxious, banjo music twanging in my head as I prepared to tell strange men in a small town that my wife and I were lost and needed their help. This guy also had thick, cracked hands that were covered in dirt, so he could probably find a place to bury us. But, as I got closer, he didn’t jump up and strangle me to death. Instead, he said “Dimmi”.  And I smiled and said “Eh….siamo perdi..” to which he nodded, “Certo,” and smiled back.

“Dimmi” is among my favorite expressions from my time here. It’s simple, it means “tell me”, but what I love about this expression is that it’s very often the first thing Italian people say to you. As I stand in front of the cashier or a server and screw up my face with the concentration of translating what I want to say, it’s always been nice to hear them say “Dimmi”. Just “tell me”. What do you need.

Back in Castelfranco, I showed the farmer my phone with the Google Maps location of our AirBnb and he said that he knew where this was. His friend piped up quickly, “Sure, you know where it is but you can’t tell them because you don’t speak their language.” All of this was in Italian. Then, I complicated the matter by showing him the directions that the host had written out. He started to read through the directions aloud, and soon the friend was looking at the directions too as the two of them started to discuss. Then they both whipped out their own smartphones to research deeper, which made me feel stupid for thinking of Deliverance earlier. A few older men inside the bar were taking notice and walking outside to join the conversation, and soon there were six men from a tiny town in Italy animatedly discussing the whereabouts of our AirBnb. I couldn’t stop smiling. What a world.

Finally, the old men returned inside, and the farmer walked over to tell me he knew “esattamente” where it was. Still, his friend was right that he couldn’t tell us where to go in our language. So? “Follow me,” was the solution. It took me a couple seconds to comprehend, but I when I did we hopped in the car and followed his pickup truck out into the night. It was now 10pm, totally dark, and I had to talk myself out of being worried as we bumped up tiny roads behind the farmer’s pickup truck. But, just like he said, he knew exactly where it was, ten minutes away, on top of a hill, on a road with only two other houses. It was amazing. And very kind. I hope one day I can be as nice to a stranger who needs my help. I’ll see their stressed, hopeful face and say “Tell me.”

Pictures to follow.

Long Time No See

It’s been 43 days since we landed in Rome, and almost a month since I last posted something. A lot has changed in my hiatus, most notably the fact that Rachel and I both go to work now every day. The job is certainly interesting, for both its differences and its similarities compared to our careers in the states, but I’ll save many of the details for a later article. For now, it’s enough to say that I don’t have as much time to write as I did before. Rachel and I have tried to make time to enjoy being here, regardless. We didn’t fly across the world to bury ourselves in work and spend all our time stressing in front of screens. We’ve gone out for aperitivo with new friends, spent a weekend in Tuscany, introduced Rosie to many new friends, and walked miles and miles across the city. It’s still beautiful, and still frustrating at times. But at least lately it’s not so hot.

For now, this is just a post to say we’re still here, and we’ll post more soon.

Ciao for now,
Bill

Ok, it’s not bad…

It’s been two weeks since we moved to Rome, and we’ve fallen into something of a rhythm.

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Every morning, we wake up and stumble down the street to a coffee shop called the Gemini Bar, which is about a 3 minute walk. The barista is an incredibly nice woman named Silvia, who talks us through the Italian very gently while we order and pay – “Due cappuccini? E due cornetti. Due e due è quattro Euro.” We sit with our cappuccinos and our croissants and read the paper in Italian. It’s pretty easy to get the gist of stories thanks to pictures and some cognates, and we spend most of our time speculating about individual words until one of us breaks out Google translate on a phone. After the Gemini, lately we’ve been walking to school, which is only about a 20 minute commute by foot. If it’s not a school day, we usually walk to any of three local grocery stores buy some very fresh, very cheap meats, cheeses, fruits and breads, and then we take a nap to beat the heat.

Later, whether we’ve been working or sleeping all day, we walk from our apartment to the tram, about 10 minutes away, and ride south to the Piazza del Popolo (The People’s Square), which we’ve decided is the northernmost part of the really cool part of Rome. From there we wander south, either to shop for clothes on Via del Corso (Romans dress well, and we’re supposed to do what they do (#2)), or to visit some gorgeous monument like the Pantheon, il Piazza Navona, the Colosseum (again), or St. Peter’s Basilica. And then we have a gelato. And maybe another coffee. And then dinner. Somewhere along the way here we’ve walked Rosie for 1.5 to 2 hours, and we’ve made it back home to watch Netflix or HBO Go.

It might be around midnight before we walk back in the door, or it could be as early a 8pm. We watch some TV, brush our teeth, brush Rosie’s teeth, and crawl into bed. No blanket, just sheets so we can stay reasonably cool, and the fan cranked on high. In about 8 hours, we’ll be back at the Gemini.

Reminiscing in Rome

I would like to address the content of Bill’s previous post and add my own insight.

A brief history of my life:

I remember a good friend of mine once described me as adventurous. I was shocked and if you know me well you can probably imagine why. I very easily fall into routine. I go running very regularly and have done so for 18 years. In Denver I went to Saint Mark’s Coffee House almost every Sunday for the past three or more years and I always order the same thing. The baristas usually start preparing my order when they see me walk in. I love routines and the structure that they provide. On the other hand, I will make decisions to make big changes and take big trips. These risks are typically highly calculated and allow me to experience new surroundings.

The first of these major changes was joining the Peace Corps and travelling to the developing nation of Honduras. I spent all but two weeks between July 2007 and September 2009 in central America, only leaving briefly to visit my family and then to meet friends in Spain. In 2019, I decided to go to Spain for two years and work as an English teaching assistant outside of Valencia. Neither of these experience were anything like I could have imagined them to be or could have prepared myself for.

Language

One of the benefits of joining the Peace Corps was the opportunity to learn Spanish. It was also one of the most frustrating experiences of my life. Peace Corps follows a full-immersion language learning curriculum. With three years of high school Spanish, I tested in at the novice mid level of the ACTFL scale for oral communication. I only knew a few conversational phrases, I could not distinguish different words when people were having a regular conversation, I was unable to communicate. I lived with Spanish- speaking host families for close to 6 months and could not communicate with them well. I can remember crying from frustration. But there was no escape. I could not flee into an English-speaking world. If I wanted to succeed, I had to learn the language.

After living in a village of 1000 people with not a single English-speaking person, my Spanish language skills grew significantly. I chose to do the exit ACTFL interview and was at an advanced mid level, which I was happy with. Then I headed to Spain, where many of the people I encountered preferred to speak Valenciano (a dialect of Catalan) over Castilian Spanish. If you don’t know anything about this, look it up. Spain has many languages, which were prohibited from being spoken in public under the rule of Francisco Franco. Upon his fall in 1975, these languages were embraced as part of Spanish heritage.

Now I am starting again. People talk, I understand a small portion of what they say and do not know how to respond. I find it annoying that people say that Italian and Spanish are pretty much the same. Clearly, these people must have expansive knowledge of romance languages or they have no idea what they are talking about. (Side note: Romanian is also a romance language and most Americans don’t know that Catalan exists.) Yes, the accent is very similar but many of the words are completely different. I also had this misconception that Italians might learn Spanish because it is a far more common language. That theory was quickly squashed. Yes, there are vast numbers of Spanish-speaking people in the world, but most of them live in the Americas and this is Europe. Europe is highly linguistically diverse and there is no reason to favor Spanish. Not to mention a potential bit of Mediterranean culture competition (Thought question: Who really has the better olive oil, olives, cheese, coffee, cured ham, etc? Explain using anecdotal evidence.)

The issue now is that I can retreat into a comfortable English Speaking world. In fact, we were only afforded the opportunity to come to Rome because we speak English. Now that is privilege! Additionally, I don’t find learning Italian to be highly useful other than the basic phrases necessary to communicate at stores and to ask for directions.

Culture Shock

Moving to a place knowing that you are going to stay a while is not the same as going on vacation. You need to learn the public transit system, grocery stores, hardware stores, produce markets, pharmacies, home goods stores, etc. In my limited experience living abroad and travelling, the US has the most comprehensive stores. At the grocery store you can buy personal care items, household cleaning products, light bulbs, candles, prescription drugs, and a huge variety of foods.  I never go down the cereal or bread aisles because the enormous variety of crappy products overwhelms me. It is a bit challenging to break the routine and buy new products and to figure out where to get what you need, but it’s a small price to pay to experience Europe.

I had enormous culture shock in Honduras. I did not have many standard modern comforts and conveniences. That means no flushing toilet, no refrigerator, no indoor plumbing, no washing machine, no dishwasher, no microwave, no TV, no internet, etc. Honestly, for me this was the easy part. What was more challenging for me was the fact that I stood out as being a foreigner. My complexion was too light, I was taller than most women, and I wore sturdy shoes instead of cheap flip-flops. People would point me out and refer to me as “gringa”everywhere I went. People literally would turn and stare at me on the bus and in the street. I know that I was the first foreigner that some people had encountered, but I had no way to cope with this attention. Some people liked this attention and described it like being a movie star, without all the money and fancy things. Just the thought of it makes my stomach turn even after 8 years. And still, if I had to do it all again I would.

In Spain, I did not stick out. Multiple times people asked me for directions to get places and I was able to help. In Italy, the issue is not that I stick out like a sore thumb, but I am unable to respond appropriately when addressed. Gladly, most Romans do not seem to be shocked to find people who do not speak Italian as this is a tourist city.

I am shocked by a few things that I did not notice during my previous trip to Rome. People do not clean up after their pets (this was common in Spain too) and there are tons of poops. Bill and I have both stepped in some already. Also, there are many small city parks that are not maintained (I never saw this in Spain). These things are not true for highly touristy areas where I think Romans focus time, money and energy into maintaining elaborate structures to please tourists and maintain the beauty of Rome’s many breathtaking monuments. Bill mentioned the urine and trash smells, but anyone who has been to NYC on a hot and muggy day knows that this is common there as well. It might be slightly intensified here because it does not typically rain in the chaparral during the summer months (Yay for those who know their biomes!).

I currently feel like I am in Rome on vacation. I want to enjoy it and have a great year. You only live once, take risks and see what they might bring!

Dedication: I dedicate this year to Courtney. She was one of the most sincere and sweet people that I have met. She lived her life boldly and bravely and I want to do the same. Though let’s be real, I will never have that je ne sais quoi that she was blessed with.

It’s Not All Roses

Moving to Rome sounds amazing, like the adventure of a lifetime in one of the great cities in the world. And that’s undoubtedly true, but it doesn’t make it easy to pack up your life and move across the world, and the tradeoffs in moving from Denver to Rome are not all good.

For example, it’s hot as hell. We’re here during a week of national holiday, which seems perfectly positioned to avoid the hottest weather of the year. If we were doing as the Romans do, we wouldn’t be in the city right now (mark that the first of what I’m sure will be many “do as the Romans do” jokes). It’s been 93-95F every day, there’s no A/C in our apartment, and the humidity from the nearby Mediterranean Sea gives my skin a persistent sticky sheen. Rachel still goes for runs, but we’ve both taken to mid-day napping and going out at night once the heat has broken. I’m writing this at 3AM local time after going to see the Colosseum at 10PM and getting gelato at 1AM.  Restaurants are still open and people are still out this late because the heat makes us all nocturnal. And Rome is actually NORTH of Denver, (41.9 degrees N vs 37.9 degrees N, respectively), so we had no idea this was coming. I suppose we could have checked the weather.

Also, Rome is full of marvels and wonderful food and urine and trash and smoke. Every morning we’re greeted by the entire apartment building’s first cigarette. Our fan collects whatever smoke is wafting past our window in the building’s central courtyard and shoots it into our bedroom around 8AM to make a Roman alarm clock. It’d be a problem to only sleep for 4 hours a night, but the aforementioned siesta to escape from the heat has kept me feeling relatively rested. So I get up, feed the dog and take her for a walk, which is when I’m greeted by the overpowering smell of urine throughout the streets. Rosie’s not helping the problem, but for some reason I think my nose is more offended by human pee than dogs’, so I get the sense that people are relieving themselves in the gutters (to be clear, I’ve never seen anybody peeing in the street). And the gutters are full of trash, despite a set of 3-5 dumpsters every other block – one for non-recyclables, one for food scraps, one for non-recyclables AND food scraps, one for bottles, one for cardboard. And the dumpsters stink too.

It’s hot, stinky, and finally, I don’t know if you know this, but in Rome they speak Italian! It’s obvious, but it means that I’m the dumb immigrant who doesn’t speak the language. Part of me thinks that it’s ridiculous Italians don’t speak English, or at least something else. If you lived in a state the size of Arizona and spoke a language nobody else in the world did, wouldn’t you make it compulsory that all your citizens learned to communicate with the outside world? I know that this opinion is stemming from me feeling stupid because I don’t speak the language, and I’m not advocating for the subversion of all individual cultures so that life would be more convenient for me. Except, sort of, I am. Because it’s painful to not know what somebody said when they talk to you, and have to tell them that you don’t speak the language that everybody else knows. Nobody’s been outright rude about it, but every once in a while I get a sense that people think “Oh, that’s too bad. This guy doesn’t know what I’m saying. Well, I guess some people are just stupid.” It’s humbling to be in that position, and I’m sure I’ve pitied somebody from the opposite perspective, which is eye-opening and probably helpful for me as a person. But it’s awkward. So, I’d rather forego that uncomfortable feeling by sterilizing the world of all cultures that have the possibility of putting me anywhere outside my comfort zone.

That’s it for now. Living in Rome is a romantic idea (no pun intended) that comes with some difficulties and unpleasantness in reality. I know that it’s still worth it and that I’m very lucky to have this opportunity, but I just want to be fair: it’s not perfect. I’m not living in heaven. I’m living in a hot, humid, stinky place where most people don’t know what I’m saying and think I’m an idiot.

And below are photos from our trip to see the Colosseum, which was outstanding.

 

 

First Couple Days

We made it! After a crazy few days of packing up our house and panicking that we wouldn’t get the paperwork we needed for Rosie, we’re finally in Rome. We got off the plane on Tuesday around 2pm local time, and met the driver the school had provided after collecting our bags and Rosie. By 3:30pm we were at the Airbnb, where we promptly crashed until night time. We’ve eaten some good food already here, including pizza after we woke up from our naps and walked to a local restaurant. As we walked home Tuesday  night, we bought a bag of apricots and three little pears at a stand.

Yesterday, Wednesday, we walked out first thing to a local caffetteria to try some famously good Italian coffee and two croissants, all of which was in fact delicious, and only cost us 4 Euros. The woman making us coffee was smiley and nice, and she made Rachel a cappuccino and me a shot of espresso in about 20 seconds. The whole experience was the better version of what we get when we go to hipper coffee shops in Denver.

After the coffee we walked to a local grocery store and picked up three kinds of prosciutto (they weren’t all prosciutto actually, but they were thinly sliced, red, cured meat), three kinds of cheese, olive oil, bread, and some other staples. Later, we walked back by the fruit stand and picked up a bag of figs. We’ve all but wiped out all the food we bought with lunch and dinner on Wednesday. God, that bread was so good. Crunchy, chewy and soft all at once.

I woke up at 8pm after a 5 hour nap and Rachel had gone out to buy us a much needed fan. I think she was worried I might be dead when she woke me up, judging by the sound in her voice, but I was finally getting the sleep I needed after days of being deprived. Not dead. I dressed, we ate dinner, and then we took our first foray into the city by walking south across the Tiber from the Ponte Milvio area where we’re staying. Rachel said she wanted to “Actually see Rome,” and when we got to the Piazza del Popolo I understood what she meant. “The People’s Square” is huge and beautiful, and started to give me a sense of some of the grandieur in the city. We walked up and down the city for 2-3 hours and got a little lost before we were home after midnight. Along the way we saw the Piazza di Spagna and Spanish Steps and then the Fontana di Trevi.

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Spanish Stairs at the Piazza di Spagna

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An intersection I don’t know

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Fontana di Trevi

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This is massive. We’re like ants to these people.

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Aww, we’re in Rome!