Trentalia – fined on the train

Appapappa and I are merrily on our way to Venice from Bologna – dreaming about the canals, I suppose, when the TT comes along. We are on a Trenitalia train, bought our tickets and boarded our train in Bologna. Having taken the train from Florence to Bologna, we considered ourselves as old hands at this. Imagine our surprise when the TT announced – 50 euros fine for each ticket.. whaaa… what did we do??

An american guy who spoke good Italian was enlisted to help. After a round of translations, it turns out that we were supposed to validate our tickets before boarding the train. Failing which.. the fine!! I must say that Appapappa was a cool cat, he announced he did not have money for the fine.. and the TT immediately reduced the fine to 50 for both of us.. what a relief. We paid up and continued the journey subdued. I totally suspect the guy took the money as bribe.

Venice was totally worth all this.. but another post on that, with pics.

We are now in Rome – came back to the same hotel we stayed in earlier. The one run by sisters.. Sister Stella smiled kindly at N.. looks like she,as winning their hearts too.

Appapappa and I are wondering what to do tomorrow. Our last day in Italy.


11 flavors of Gelato

Appapappa is keeping a meticulous list of all the gelato flavors he has tried.  Im stealing his list to post here–

Yogurt,Pista,Chocolate,Hazelnut( bought by GSingh), strawberry, vanilla ( bought by Gsingh again), Melon, yikes.. forgot the last four.

I think both Appapappa and N have one objective everyday.. to try out the next flavor. Usually it takes about half hour for the selection .. while the shopkeeper waits. And I feel slightly uncomfortable. Its funny that A who takes all decisions in about half a second takes so long to decide this. Once it is decided, he takes a few moments off to himself to savor everything.. in which time N is lookign longingly at the gelato. After that.. its all mayhem. N wants it all to herself, and so does A.. Somehow they also want to share. Between the two of them it disappears faster than piranhas devouring their food.

Its tons of fun to watch them do this.

Day 7 of Italy Trip: Lazing in Toscana


We are at a farmhouse in a hill town in Tuscany.

Below us are rows of olive tree, most of them seem stripped of olives ( is the picking season over?).

The driveway to the farmhouse is lined with Cypress trees.

Far in the distance are the blue rolling hills of Tuscany – stretched out as far as the eye can see.

Above us, a killing up hill walk away, are the ancient Etruscan walls that line the medieval hill town of Volterra.

The streets are cobbled – lined with small shops. There are tourists – but not too many!

We shop at a grocery store for Chianti, pasta, pomodoro (tomato), formaggio ( cheese). And other boring things.

We try out our scanty Italian -Solo Pane ( me at the store where we went to have coffee and discovered it was a bakery), Ciao ( with a lot of attitude, from Appa).

N plays with the cat that belongs to the family here – his name is Cappucino.

Appa is enamored with the Espresso kettle. After experimenting with it for half hour, he figured out it needs steam. And made himself a delicious espresso.

I am enamored with our apartment – feel like I am living here. Appa and I decide to take a blueprint of this – for our future house. What a place. Massimo is a graphic designer. He must have decorated the place.

Day 2: Ancient Rome and Bella Bambini

We were supposed to wake up early, and head for the Colloseum to avoid the crowds. Appa and I woke up – realised that it was a little too late for breakfast. Neither of us had a watch, and no clue about the time, but the strong sun outside was a hint. Appa went down to ask – turned out it was past noon! Anyway, we felt sufficiently guilty for having slept so long, and packed N hurriedly into her backpack, and trudged off to discover Ancient Rome. The Rome of Julius Caesar, gladiators, Asterix 🙂 that list kind of shows you my extensive knowledge of the ancient roman empire. Oh, and yes, lets not forget “Friends, Roman, Countrymen” and “Et Tu Brutus”.

The Colloseum deserved all the fame it gets – a massive structure, that housed as many people as a modern stadium ( 60,000 they say!). The Forum had so many preserved structures – one could start imaginging the place actually thriving with the Senators going about with their noses in the air, with the orators standing on the raised pedestal airing their opinions, and the common folk walking about in their Togas ( a doubt that I have been harboring though: why are all the statues sans clothing?)

Late in the evening we walked about the Capitoline Hill ( there,s a capitol hill here too, not just in Seattle, heh heh). It was beautiful! See the pics.

We managed to get back by public transportation ( bus and metro). Good show!!

N was the star of the day today. Everywhere we went, people played with her – called her Amore. And of course, BElla Bambini. N had a field time winning all the waitresses hearts. And she topped the night off with a Gelato she refused to share with us.

As for Appapappa and I, we topped our night off with “un carafe de vino casa”. 

Tomorrow, we are off to see the Pope. I have to share this one thing from the Rick Steves book: apparently, a tour guide was asked by an American Tourist: ” Is the Pope Catholic”.. Duh duh duh..

Day 1of Ciao


Everyone here does say Ciao by the way 🙂

Arrived at Rome today at noon – first interesting incident, one of our bags was ripped apart during the flight. Appa went to lodge a complaint – came back after he saw that the lady was taking 15 minutes per passenger.

Took a taxi into Via Guisti ( via = street) – the hotel Albergo Guisti, run by nuns, is a nice clean hotel at a good location. I got a feeling of going back to St. Marys English High School as I stood in front of the nun at the front desk – her accent was so familiar. Finally, I had to ask: where are you from? OOty, she replied with a smile. 🙂 For a brief moment visions of the hardy Sisters at my catholic School came to mind. 

 There are lots of trattorias and ristorantes and gelaterias around. I had cannelloni for lunch, appa had a Funghi risotto ( yum). Followed by an Espresso.. as we watched the Romans walk by. Most  people would exclaim Bella Bambini when they saw N – nice of them.  

We slept through the afternoon, of course, everyone else was taking a riposto too. Ours lasted a little longer than intended, a full 3 hours! Once we got up, we decided to go for a nice long walk – ending with a dinner of Penne and Pizza, washed down with the house wine. Followed by a cappucino at a bar ( btw, some strange rules here – if you have coffee at the bar standing up it is 1 € but if you have it at the table it is 5 €. Anyway, back to the hotel after a long walk. This city reminds me strongly of Mumbai – the Churchgate area. Paved sidewalks, lots of people walking, hatchback cars, old buildings.  The piazza we saw today was a lot like CP – strange that Rome is reminding me of Indian cities. I wonder if the impression will change once I see more of Rome. Waiting to find out.

Missing the crazy friends in Seattle

The worst part about leaving a city is leaving your friends behind. You spend hours and hours with them – and then all of a sudden one day you dont know when you will see them next.

S, C and B came to our house before we left: the last half hour we spent playing football with N’s ball ( with a SpongeBob Squarepants on it) in the empty house. Good fun – as usual, S commented: “we should have done this before” . As usual, B complained about everything ( heh heh, I am waiting for his comment when he reads the post), and as usual C carried the ball with her hands into the post. They also pulled my leg about what an aggressive player I was, and, just so the scene is complete: S’s last comment was “We won”.

There is something about spending lots and lots of time with your friends that you start feeling like you know them really well. And with it, comes the comforting feeling of knowing what they are going to say and what they are going to do. You start missing it when you are no longer with them. And you start missing all the idiosyncrasies too.

I wonder: When we meet next, will we just pick up where we left and party on? Feel awkward with each other because we no longer know what the other person is doing, and have no idea what to say? Take time to “warm-up” and then, by the time we are back to our old times, its time to say GBye again? Sigh.. if only it would always be the first.