Italy ~ Rome – 2014
Maps are annoying. I mean, that’s why some genius invented the isn’t it? But when you are without a car in a foreign country, people would be right to think you are odd (at best), or a complete and utter maniac, if you were to wander the streets clutching a big chunky device that is shouting out – “TURN RIGHT AFTER 100 YARDS!” You couldn’t really argue with them for coming to this logical conclusion…I mean you would look mad. That’s unquestionable, even if you did have the Sean Connery setting on…actually, perhaps that would be even worse.
With all that said, I did run into some problems with regular map-reading in Italy. Stupid problems that other people probably wouldn’t have encountered…but problems all the same. You see the friendly chap (Paolo) at the hotel had given me a map and had outlined all of the sites I should look for – I think I still have it somewhere…yeah, here we are –
Yeah, so he outlined where we can see the Roman Colosseum, Vatican City, and all of the other tourist must sees, which was awfully nice of him. He did it all with such zeal and enthusiasm, as if he had built them with his own hands just yesterday – he also gave us a recommendation for a historic ice cream place he appeared very excited about: Palazzo del Freddo Giovanni Fassi, or Fassi Ice cream to ignorant foreign souls like myself. Paolo also recommended that “people like you”, I assume he meant people who are so white they are practically see-through, really ought to stay indoors during the hottest period of the Italian summer day; which is 1-4pm ish. He certainly doesn’t need to tell me twice! I’ve had my fingers burned enough times!
I’ve also had my ears, nose, cheeks, back, and various other parts burned as well…but that’s not the well known saying, so I…yeah…anyway, sorry, you get the point.
So yeah, with the inferno hours well remembered, the next day we set out relatively early, to give us some time before the unforgiving sun turned my neck into pork crackling. I grabbed my trusty annotated map and headed out the door! I had a good idea of the general way we would be heading, but by coincidence we bumped into Paolo as we were on route, and I was able to double check if I was going in the the right direction – “yes, yes! You are exactly, exactly!” Brilliant! It was all working out! I mean so far we were only at the end of the street the hotel was on…but still, we were exactly, exactly! Woooo!
However before we knew it we found ourselves in a very different setting. We had already passed by some boarded up buildings, as well as what appeared to be a deserted railway system… “this can’t be it, there’s no way, this can-” I interrupted my little sister, shrieking defiantly that it is DEFINITELY the right way, as it said so on the map. As I attempted to avoid her gaze I took a brief look around the immediate vicinity…on second thought it certainly didn’t look like the kind of place where you would find a traditional ice cream shop. Why you ask? Well, for one the entire inhabitants were wearing patchwork coats despite the heat, there was also this little man-made cardboard village in a neat row behind some rubbish bins – complete with cardboard doors and tears for window holes…oh and someone was warming their hands over an oil barrel whilst whistling a tune…and…well, long story short, we had clearly stumbled into the bad side of town.
Maybe it’s up there? Past that, errrr, cardboard bit?” I muttered halfheartedly…
There is no ice cream here John. Let’s go.”
Argh, no – it has to be here! Paolo said…Paolo said!”
Eventually I had to accept defeat. And one thing was for certain, I was very upset, I mean we had came here with one purpose, and that was to sample some of the world’s best ice cream – but instead I was walking through a piss stench-filled subway for the second time today…life can be so harsh sometimes guys, it is often too much to manage.
I took another look at the map…and instantly recognised that I had lead us to the location of where he had wrote Fassi Ice Cream, rather than where he had pointed with the red arrow…
“Well, I said that John – you didn’t listen!”
YOU MUST HAVE WHISPERED IT, BECAUSE I DIDN’T HEAR IT!” I barked back, delirious with hunger after skipping breakfast…I had expected to be well on my way to diabetes by now, and my instant reaction was an insane uncontrollable anger – I suppose I am a little like The Hulk but instead my problem is people won’t like me when I am hungry. I’ll be the first to admit I am a horrible, horrible person when I haven’t ate. Just the worst.
Sorry…I…let’s just head back this way, okay?”
We looped around the corner beside the railway tracks, and as we passed the bushes we were met with two grubby looking gentlemen who were taking up most of the pathway – we automatically went in single file to allow for us to both pass, it was a pretty tight squeeze as they were refusing to budge! As we tried to nudge our way past something caught my eye – I glanced down at one of the two – then looked back in front, glanced down again – what was that? I looked back in front, glanced down again – then looked back in front…errrrrrr…one of them had just made direct bleary eye contact with me, whilst in the process of shooting heroin in one of his thin arms…errrrrrr…I suddenly remembered my manners and gave him a friendly nod, which I coupled with a hiya, probably not exactly the right setting for such a phrase…but it was all that came out of my dry, raspy throat.
We continued on in single file, around the short bend of the path – I tried to glance behind my shoulder, to see if they were following – actually I was expecting to have someone leap on me whilst wildly jabbing a used needle in my neck repeatedly – perhaps I have an over-active imagination, but it was actually pretty terrifying.
Anyway, a little dark, I know, apologies! But it gets WORSE! Once we actually got to the ice cream shop after a huge nightmarish detour, I accidentally picked out the wrong flavour…with devastating results…you see, the flavours were unnamed – they only had little pictures on…so I thought I was getting chocolate, caramel, and toffee – but instead I actually got chocolate, tiramisu, and rum n’ raisin:
IT WAS HORRIBLE. The rum flavour was so heavy that it overpowered the other ones completely…my God it was foul…I had basically skipped breakfast in lieu of some strong rum – if I wasn’t on holiday you would rightly call me an alcoholic. But as we all should know, there are a whole different set of rules regarding alcohol when it comes to vacations! Thankfully!
I spent the rest of the day trying not to be too disappointed, and of course when I ran into Paolo later I told him nothing other than:
“Yeah! Found the place no problem! Thanks for the map! Ice cream…wow…best I have ever had!”
I wonder whether every single person does the same thing, you know – just out of politeness…next time I’ll tell him the truth…mehh, who am I kidding?
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