Well, it's been 6 days now since we've been in Italy and it's passed incredibly fast as we've been so busy. I arrived first into Rome, and quickly met up with Mike and Richard as they arrived. We had planned to have two days in Rome, the first being an extra day to account for problems with luggage or flights, and to overcome jet lag, and the second day to get our Italian validations which we were told were necessary to fly in Italy.
Rome is every bit as exciting and energetic as I had remembered from when my family first visited Italy in 1999, but just a little bit quieter (in the meantime the Italian government passed laws restricting the noise of mopeds). We caught a taxi to our hotel -- it was decided that public transportation was out of the question with all of the extra heavy luggage that we had, and took showers to clean up. We headed out for a bit of touristing to try and fight jet lag. We had our first Italian pizza followed by gelato, then jumped on the bus (which we weren't sure if it was going the right direction) to head down to the Trevi fountain.
Then we walked to the Spanish Steps via the scenic route (ok I screwed up the directions) and then headed back to the bus to our hotel. By this time we were sweaty and gross (it's really hot here) and decided to shower and meet for dinner. All of this time, Richard, Mike and I have been cracking jokes and getting along really well. Jet lag grumpiness can be a total fun killer but that wasn't the case with us. However, everytime we stopped moving, we all were attacked by the sleepy monster and quickly began to notice the jet lag. Anyway, we had a great pasta dinner at the restaurant around the corner from our hotel, and called it a night around 10pm. Jet lag be gone!
The major objective for our second day in Rome was to head to the ENAC (it stands for something in Italian - trust me) (Note from the editor: for those who are in suspense and have to know what the acronym stands for it's 'Ente Nazionale Per L'Aviazione Civile' aka 'Italian Civil Aviation Authority') to get our US licences validated for flight in Italy. Leo Benetti-Longhini had found the office and prepared all of the paperwork for us. However, even though we had an address, finding this office was a bit of a challenge as it was off all of the maps that we had. We took the subway to the stop which the lady at the hotel had told us to go to, but once we got there, I had to slaughter the Italian language (I brought the French, Spanish and German languages down with it too) by trying to get directions. We had to go to the previous stop, and the office was very near by -- and thankfully this guy was telling the truth. We got to the ENAC office, and they told us we had to go to another office were they could accept the cash for the fees that we had to pay. I have to add here that the Italians have been extremely helpful and patient with the fact that none of us speak Italian. So off we were on the train again, headed to another stop, to exchange some money for a receipt, which we had to take back to the first office. Luckily, both offices were very near to subway stations, and we had a lot of english help. Once having the receipt, we headed back to the first office where we waited about 45 minutes before we got the validations. YAY!
Success -- hats off to Leo and Richard who made sure that we had all of the necessary paperwork, and Mike for helping out with the navigation.
By this time it was about 3pm and we decided to head to the Colosseum, for a bit more touristing before we were to head out to Reiti the next morning.
We had a tour of the Colosseum - things of note: over 1,000,000 died in the time of the Colosseum (approximately 350 years), they used to put wings on slaves and throw them off of the top of the colosseum to see if they could fly (think Icarus), and really sick and twisted, they used to smear slaves with the scent of a female lion, and release the slave and the lion who hadn't eaten in 2 weeks and watch what happened. And they thought that the Olympics were immoral because they were competing in events naked! After our tour, we headed to the Palatine Hill, the home of the Roman Emporers, caught a bus (we were never sure of our direction or stops) to the Pantheon, walked to Piazza Novola were we convinced Richard to get a henna tattoo (Note from the editor: WHAT???!!! VBG-that's computer speak for Very Big Grin)(Mike and I got them too -- it was really just to see if we could get Richard to do something crazy), walked through small Roman streets toward Vatican
City, and got some really pretty pictures of St Peters cathedral by night. We decided at this point that it was time to head home -- maybe 9pm and get dinner, and we headed to the nearest subway stop.
As we were walking there, exhausted and hungry - Mike commented that it would really suck if the trains weren't running.... and when we got to our station it was closed. Something about laviola -- anyone know what that means??? (Note from the editor: I think it means somebody left their violin on the train!) Well we walked back to the bus station, got on a bus we guessed was going to nearby our hotel, rode it to the end, and realized that we weren't anywhere near our hotel. Ok, more language slaughtering -- but the driver got us to another stop, where we caught another bus which got us home. 11pm, another pasta dinner and off to bed, getting nervous about our trip to Reiti...
I'd love to write more but it's 11:30 here and we've got another day of extremely technical and intimidating flying for tomorrow. Richard will fill in more tomorrow... You can view my photos at Photos from Italy
Reporting from Reiti,
TEAM AMERICA, WORLD PILOTS, coming to save the day.