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Trip Report Il giorno in piu’ (The extra day) - Rome Trip Report

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“Do you know how many times in history a molecule of oxygen has met up with a molecule of carbon? Millions, billions of times and nothing in particular happened. And then, one day, a molecule of hydrogen combined with the carbon and the oxygen and do you know what happened then? The universe was created.”
- Il Giorno in Piu’, by Fabio Volo

Rome has the knack of making you feel as though the universe was created just for you, right there, exactly where you are standing in the exact same moment that you are standing there, almost as though a pop-up book of wonders springs up with every stone your foot happens to press. And the illusion continues no matter how many times you go because even though you may have walked down that street a hundred times, you will always, without fail, see something new. Rome recreates itself just for you, every day and I think that’s why I find it so endlessly fascinating. I counted up before I left and I had determined that this would be my twelfth trip to Rome, counting from my first brief sojourn there in 1997. And still I’d be seeing things that were new, as well as visiting locations and streets that felt more like old friends than vacation spots.

I hadn’t yet traveled to Rome in December and I was interested to see what aspects the city would reveal during the pre-Christmas season. It was going to be a short trip, only five days, but I needed it more than anything; Italy always restores my soul and I tend to seek refuge there. I arrived on Thursday morning, December 1, at nine in the morning. Fiumicino was covered in early-morning mist and the temperature on the ground was 48 degrees. I navigated the maze of customs and immigration and exited past the baggage claim to find my driver, who in typical Italian fashion, wasn’t there yet. The obligatory stop at the pay phones near the exit was next to try to make contact with someone who could tell me where my driver was. Of course nobody could tell me, but by the time I had spent ten minutes on the phone my driver had managed to make his way into the waiting area.

Alino, the driver, was friendly and talkative and we had several interesting discussions on the way to the apartment. Originally from Pakistan, he had lived in Italy for the past fifteen years and spoke passionately about his love for Rome and his circle of friends in the city. Once we arrived in Trastevere, he pulled the car over and took me for breakfast – his treat – and we continued to chat over our cornetti and coffee. When we arrived at the apartment on Via del Gesu’, he gave me his number and offered to take me out on the town. A lovely offer, but part of why I go to Italy is to do what I want according to my own agenda…but I took his number anyway and he congenially waved goodbye before navigating the car down the one-way street. The apartment owner, Andrea, was there upon my arrival as I had called him from the airport and he buzzed me up to the apartment. I had rented the apartment through Sleepinitaly, as I had before, and their website had very clearly advised me that the apartment was on the fourth floor (which is the fifth floor in US terms) with no lift. I work out at least four times a week, but those stairs were killer the first time up. Perhaps it was because I was carrying my luggage, or because I was already tired from a long trip and some jetlag, but I wanted to sit down at the top of the third floor and take a nap.

At any rate, I continued on and arrived at the door of the apartment to meet Andrea, who helpfully showed me the keys and where everything was located in the apartment. The apartment, called Via del Gesu on Sleepinitaly, was really beautiful. Lots of windows and sunshine, a terrace, a nice little kitchen and a good sized bathroom with wi-fi, cable TV, a washing machine and a hair dryer. The arrangement was really charming, with little steps leading to the different areas of the apartment. All in all, this was the nicest apartment I have ever rented from Sleepinitaly, but I can see the stairs being a challenge for many people.

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