After my somewhat epic trek of the 16th of July (see previous entry for full details) the 17th and 18th were spent in my usual pursuit of hanging out in Mauro’s wonderful little cafe and there are only a couple of things of note to record here. Having booked my flight home for the 19th I was effectively kicking my heels and trying to make the most of my last few days in the wonderful atmosphere of Rome amongst new found friends without the hassle of trudging round endless tourist attractions in the increasingly oppressive heat.
I’ll deal briefly with the 17th as it only throws up a couple of images of note.
The first, almost inevitably, deals with the disgusting (there is no other word) parking and driving in Rome. I think the image says it all really.
The second image from this day (below) indicates the complete lack of respect some people, mostly young it has to be said, have for others especially in a situation of communal living. In the rather crappy hostel I was staying in, this was the sole table for a dorm of eight or ten people, I forget exactly how many now. They had not just popped out for a quick smoke, they had gone out for the night and left it like this.
OK, they did clean it up later, much later, i.e. about four in the morning amidst much girlish giggling, drunken shrieking having already having woken everyone else up by putting on the light when even night owls like myself had managed to drop off to sleep. Appalling and, no, I am not going to launch into a diatribe here about modern youth. I have spoken warmly about some of the wonderful hostels I stayed in on this and other trips and I really don’t have a problem with young people as I met so many great ones but, as with much else in life, the inconsiderate few spoil it for the many. On then to the next day.
So what is the title of this journal entry all about then? Well, the discovery wasn’t so much of a discovery as you cannot really miss Aperol in Italy, it is ubiquitous. The Italians are fond of an aperitivo (sp?) in the late afternoon / early evening and this often consists of a mildly alcoholic drink called Aperol which I was told was made of bitter oranges and which the Italians like to enliven with prosecco. Certainly I had seen it but had somehow never got round to trying it which I happened to mention to Mauro and in about no time flat he knocked me up one, refused to take payment for it and decided I should try a Campari for good measure, although I have had that before. I must say, the Aperol was most agreeable and I see now whilst editing this over a year later in the UK that it is becoming very popular, not to mention lucrative for publicans! A baby bottle of prosecco and an Aperol in the pub I am sitting in now (which is very reasonably priced) would be the best part of £10. I should mention that this was all to accompany the rather fine salad you see below which, as usual, he refused to take money for. Contrary to perceived wisdom, there is such a thing as a free lunch, you just need to know where to be.
I told you I was turning Roman when I was there but “when in Rome” and all that kind of stuff. Inevitably, with that madman Mauro and I, there was no way that one was going to be enough and it soon degenerated into a bit of a session with the front door locked. Honestly, I do not know how things like this happen to me all the time but I certainly am not complaining. I live a charmed life and I know it.
As for the ambition realised well that was an easy one. In these days where there is a coffee bar every 50 yards (literally) in London and even the pubs sell it, I was obviously fully conversant with the concept of the “proper” coffee machine. In my flat (apartment) a coffee is a spoonful of instant, some boiling water and a spot of milk if it hasn’t gone off in the fridge. It certainly doesn’t involve hazelnut syrup, frothy milk, cinnamon and silly designs on the top. However, in keeping with my Romanization as mentioned above, I had found myself drinking more and more of the stuff but only espresso as the locals do and none of your capuccinos and lattes and the like. Honestly, can anyone please tell me what the Hell a flat white is?
I had long wanted to have a go at making a coffee on one of these things so I asked Mauro and naturally he agreed. He walked me through it and I don’t know what all the fuss is about as the machine does all the work. He didn’t look overly impressed at the result but I drank it anyway and it tasted all right to me so I suppose I can now technically add Fergy the barista to my somewhat eclectic CV.
My last couple of days passed pleasantly but all too quickly as the last few always do on any trip and soon it was the 19th which I’ll deal with in my next and final entry on this blog.
We are almost at the end of this rather crazy journey so you might as well stick around one more day for the endgame. Stay tuned and spread the word.