TechnomadicsVagabonding Europe

Wow, we’ve really got slow travelling down now — we’ve stayed at the last two places for more than two weeks! It’s a very, very relaxed pace which occasionally invokes tiny stabs of guilt for me (we should be racing around seeing everything we possibly can!), but it permits us to make a proper life of it, and that’s one of the big priorities we have for this adventure. It’s not just about travelling — it’s also about following our passions.

Lago Albano and Castel Gandolfo

In the time we’ve been residents of the odd backyard sosta in Castle Gandalf, equipped with nocturnal whining dog and weird grotty foreshore, Katherine’s done lots of painting and I’ve done more work on an upcoming app, which we’ve been using during our trips into the city.

We’ve headed into town four times, on the train. On the 45 minute ride in, we pass first amongst hills covered with vines, then through the crumbling remains of a huge ancient wall made up of arches, that runs for at least hundreds of metres, then into Rome’s suburbs, the train line dotted with red poppies.

Our first day in Rome I’ve already mentioned: Our search for Vegemite, and a few other things that mostly pale in comparison to our Vegemite victory.

The Tiber

The second time we went in, last Sunday, we were hoping to visit a flea market that occurs every second Sunday. Instead, we encountered a marathon that wound its way through Rome’s streets. We think it may have been an international affair — we spotted a variety of flags in there. It seemed to be quite a large event, lots of people spectating.

Rome marathon

Rome marathon

With the market closed for the marathon, we had some time on our hands, and decided to go and visit the Capuchin crypt under the church of Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cuppuccini, located right beside a very busy roundabout/piazza. The crypt is a somewhat macabre series of rooms containing biblical artwork constructed from the bones of thousands of Capuchin monks, extending up the walls and over the roof, with intricate patterns made from various unidentifiable little bones. Pretty crazy.

We attempted to find a cinema to see Avatar in 3D — we headed out to Furio Camillo (we decided it meant “Furious Camel”; been there, done that), which turned out to be a rather wretched suburb; the cinema looked like an abandoned building, and didn’t look much different on the inside. We got a weird look trying to buy tickets to a film screening in a language we didn’t speak, but we had it covered: We had downloaded a bootleg copy of the film earlier, to extract the English soundtrack which we carried on our iPods to sync up while watching — how’s that for creative problem-solving? Unfortunately we were told the session was full, so that was that.

We visited the city another day, to visit the huge Porta Portese flea market — this one, we found open, thankfully, after a long walk from Termini station. Lots of discount clothes and shoes, probably made by little slave kids, and many random-crap stalls with all the same merchandise. But plenty of cool stuff in there, too — various antique items: tools, kitchen utensils, jugs and pans, old cameras, clocks, antique maps and handwritten letters, as well as various artwork for sale. Katherine picked up some arty things while we were there. We showed our tourist-ness by ordering a couple of cappuccinos at midday.

We also found a whole street of bike shops, and saw some cheap second-hand bikes that could’ve worked for us. We weren’t quite ready to make a decision though, so we postponed. We were going to go back the next day in Rome, but it ended up being unfeasible to get the damn things home on the crowded train system, so we aborted. Seven months on the road, and still no bikes — what’s wrong with us!

The final day in Rome we made a beeline back to the deli where we found Vegemite, and bought another two jars and some Lindt easter eggs. We visited a street that Lonely Planet generously described as the place to go for vintage boutiques, and found a grand total of just three little vintage clothes shops! Lonely Planet, you are rapidly losing your credibility…

Lunch in Piazza Navona for old times’ sake (that’s the one with the four rivers statue, where we stopped for lunch last time we were in Rome); bread, cheese, olives and sun-dried tomatoes we found in a nearby supermarket, and very bad jazz saxophone busking.

We made our way back out into the suburbs — a grotty Furious Camel again — and walked up to the Dorothy Circus gallery. Over to Katherine:

The discovery of the Dorothy Circus Gallery was something of a revelation for me. Turns out the type of art I am most excited and inspired by (apart from mixed media) has a name and it’s name is “Pop Surrealism“. Although there is much debate about how fitting the name is and indeed whether or not there should be a name at all, regardless it certainly has the very practical result that I can now find more art like it. Yay for labels!

Urban grunge: The Ponte Casilino train stop

On our penultimate day before moving on, we finally managed to see Avatar — we drove up to Frascati, a quite pretty town that felt like it was tucked into the trees. The iPod scheme went well — I felt quite smug — and I loved the 3D. Katherine was less enthusiastic, finding the image lacking in sharpness — she was glad we’d seen it on my laptop last night (which is what made us decide to come out to see it on a proper screen the following day), thinking she would’ve enjoyed it less otherwise.

And now we’re off to visit a camper accessories shop to attempt to get a few things sorted — of particularly high priority is a mattress raiser to combat our rather awful mould problem, caused by a badly designed bed base with no ventilation, and a new bathroom tap that doesn’t dribble down into the cabinet underneath when we use it.

Then we’re off East to visit the medieval town of Chieti, to see the ancient tradition of the Good Friday procession through the town. We were hoping (again) to drive through the Apennines, but after deciding upon a route, I discovered one point that we pass through right at the 1600m level. I’d determined earlier, with the help of a webcam in Pescasseroli and Google Earth, that this was approximately the snow level. Not worth it!

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