I went to Rome

So ,there was some radio silence at the very beginning of my blogging career. Way to go me!

I took a break because I had the amazing opportunity to go to Rome for a week. I took it. I bought a ticket (thanks to Skyscanner), sat on the plane, and landed in Fiumicino.

The Leonardo da Vinci airport is some 30 km outside of Rome, it is easy to navigate and get out of, but you best hurry. You don`t want one of the millions of tourists on your bus/train/bike seat on the way to Rome city center. While you are there make sure to check out the handsome soldiers all over the place. Italy’s capital takes the safety of everyone in it seriously, so you better get used to the soldiers, carabinieri and police all over the city. They are mainly at the pulse points (big attractions and important buildings) and they stand out from the rest of the stylish European / loud American / numerous Asian crowd. But by day three, you get used to it. You still notice them (because they are obviously chosen for their handsome ruggedness), but you get used to it.

Another thing you are bound to notice and eventually get used to is the garbage. It is everywhere and it baffles at the entry. Very soon, it is just another part of Rome. Like the weather, amazing food and art, friendly natives and jaywalking.

You can get to the main station- Termini -any way you want. Once you manage to roll up you have all of the public transport at your fingertips. I slept near by so there was no need for it, at that moment. That might have been a mistake since I went straight to the shower once I got there. Sweat was pouring down like rain.

Regarding the actual “get around” part of the stay, I used my crazy guide. She lives in Rome and knows all there is to know so I trusted her. She made me walk over a 100 km in five days. Soooo I recommend you use one of the hundreds apps that have an option to download (your GPS works without wi-fi) or an actual map (it makes you interact with people).

All in all, I had a chance to revisit all of my favorites in Rome: Palazzo del Quirinale, Fontana di Trevi, Trastevere, Fontana dell’Acqua Paola, Colosseo, Pantheon, Piazza Navona, Foro Romano, Campo de’ Fiori, Altare della Patria (or Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II or Il Vittoriano), Piazza San Pietro, Circo Massimo, and all of the assorted museums, churches, staircases, monuments, obelisks, fountains and gelaterias. I also spent a whole day shopping. Via Condotti was a bit over my budget so I strolled some other roads to bankruptcy (Via del Corso, Via Cola di Rienzo, Via Nazionale and others). The highlight was a trip to Porta Portese. Trust me and google it. One other thing to google and most definitely visit are the Terme di Caracalla. Ancient natives used to take the hedonist experience to another level. This place is a huge testament to that way of life.

The few tips I have for a would be traveler in Rome are pack light, do not stress over deviations from your schedule (if you have one), walk, eat the food, drink the water from one of the hundreds public taps, try the wine, jaywalk, do the things locals do, make the experience your own and come back.

Rome is alive with youth, speed, carelessness and it is a testament to past generations, civilizations and empires, all at the same time. You will not err if you decide to go and check out the combination of nature, people, history, architecture, art, climate, lifestyle, amazing food and the overall feel. In the meantime read Anthony Capella’s The Food of Love.


Why I looooove SEP

So by now you can guess who is one of my favorite writers, and if you are here you probably love her too. Or you are willing to experiment. And seeing how we`ll have a new Chicago Stars Book (!!!!!!!) by the end of August, I thought Susan is the perfect author to start my book loving blog with.

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SEP is a writer who can make the world go round in the most wonderful way. With her characters. To me, that is what makes a book, drives the story, gives you dialog. Her characters are all flawed human beings, intelligent and loyal, open to the road of self discovery they find themselves on. That is actually the best part of it all. She makes them go trough things to figure themselves out. She makes them work for what they want without help, and sometimes without support. The characters are never what they seem, and they end up loving what they never thought possible. The couples have nothing in common at a surface level, once you think about it you figure out it is just “the face of things”, something SEP likes to play with. She also has a serious liking for people with issues, but that is another post.
Even though her characters may or my not be strong at the start they end up a better version of themselves, for themselves. Their romantic other half only jumpstarts the process. In a hilarious manner, more often than not. Which is a HUGE realism plus in my book.

Ok, that might have been jumbled thought up there. Lets start again.

Her characters. They are funny, intelligent, flawed, real. And ridiculous.

Phoebe Somerville outraged everyone by bringing a French poodle and a Hungarian lover to her father’s funeral. She sat at the gravesite like a fifties movie queen with the small white poodle perched in her lap and a pair of rhinestone-studded cat’s-eye sunglasses shielding her eyes.  –SEP, It Had To Be You

The story. Is one of self discovery first, good people second, relationships third, and romance throughout.

Nobody else can demean me. I can only demean myself. –SEP, Kiss an Angel

The romance. It is funny!! It feels like it could actually happen! And even though you know who are your main characters, who will end up together, the road to the end game is long and curvy. It demands attention end effort. Just like the real deal.

“You know that we’ve got a few problems we need to talk through before we get married.”
“I’m not getting rid of Pooh.”
“See, there you go being antagonistic. Marriage means learning to compromise.”
“I didn’t say I wouldn’t compromise. I promise to take the ribbon out of her topknot before you walk her.”  -SEP, It Had to Be You

The setting. Mostly small towns (or big towns with small town vibes), mostly groups of people who know who they are. You can tell SEP appreciates good character development. And I love her for it.

“He sounds like Jesus. Except rich and sexy.”
“Watch it, Meg. In this town joking about Jesus could get you shot. You’ve never seen so many of the faithful who’re armed.” -SEP, Call Me Irresistible

The humor. Oh the humor! Well written, doesn`t feel forced, everyone has their own brand of it.

“We’re only human.”
“One of us, anyway. The other’s a reptile.”
“Harsh, Annabelle. Very harsh.”  –SEP, Match Me If You Can

“Just out of curiosity, sweetheart; did you ever talk to your doctor about givin’ you some tranquilizers?”  -SEP, Heaven, Texas

“If you were a sane woman, I would, of course, behave in a more rational fashion. Since you are a lunatic, however, this is the only way.” -SEP, Ain`t She Sweet 

I could go on like this forever, but I’ll mention one more thing. Her voice. It is distinctive and effortless, it reads like a tall glass of water, doesn`t snag or catch, everything is in its place. There is no jumble, no useless adverbs, no unnecessary embellishments. It makes “my heart sing”.

She makes this quote seem very true.

Writing is easy. All you have to do is cross out the wrong words. –Mark Twain