Rome Update #7

Monday, September 14th, 2009

This was the first class with Professor Lovell, who is a pretty neat guy that has a snarky sense of humor, a love of all things Supreme Court, and vaguely looks like me. After class was our first interview for the group project. After class we talked with an Italian blogger and journalist who was also involved in the Open Source Movement. A few hours later we were finished and went off our separate ways. This day also marked the arrival of rain showers in Rome. When I heard this thunderstorm outside while I was studying in the library, there was little choice but to run back to my apartment, throw on a coat, and wander around getting soaked.

Later that night a group of us went down to see the Colosseum again at night, but this time the place was covered in rain and moisture! When we got back I finished up my response paper for class on Wednesday—we were discussing internet and employment law.

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009

After a typical class with Professor McCann, we had our second interview—this time with a corporate attorney for debt collectors regarding the protection of data privacy and other related matters. His viewpoint was very procedural—as one would expect a civil lawyer’s view to be—but we still got a lot out of his viewpoint. It was raining basically all afternoon, so we stayed indoors and had a calm night.

Wednesday, September 16th, 2009

This was by far the busiest day for me in the program. I woke up early to prepare for class that day, and then after class had to run to the A. S. Roma ticket office next to the Pantheon to get tickets for the Football (Soccer) game on Sunday. Then I had to run back to lead my group to our third interview at the Guarante, which is an Italian governmental organization set up to protect the use of private data. The interview was a mix between very grand ideas from the upper management, the reality from the case workers, and dotted with optimism for the future from everyone. As an added bonus we got free buttons, stickers, and baseball hats from the place.

After this long tour/interview, we briefly hit up a gelato place before rushing back to another lecture at 5:00pm about Italy and the death penalty. Finally after this two hour lecture and discussion, Rachel and I fled up to the student lounge to quickly write our response papers for the next class. Finally after all of this, we went to grab a quick dinner before watching some of The Dark Knight before sleeping a very well-earned rest.

Thursday, September 17th, 2009

This was the second class in two days where I had a response paper due, and things went well (I think). We were trying to plan out what to do with our last weekend in Italy, and this was the “free” weekend where nothing else was planned with the program. Quickly reading the tour book in class, we had our respective group meetings after class before going to the library to try and figure out where to go. After quite some time, Rachel and I decided to take a regional train to Napoli (Naples), stay in a hotel right next to the train station, and then wake up early the next morning to go and stay at the Amalfi Coast.

Quickly packing and rushing to the train station after missing the first bus, we managed to get to the trian with 5 minutes to spare. The only problem is that with a regional train (the “slowest”, cheapest class), is that you cannot reserve seats, and they don’t limit the number of people who can board. So we ended up standing in the causeway between cars with about 10 other people, sweating away. Finally after about an hour some seats opened up and could sit down the rest of the way. About 30 minutes before arriving in Naples, the gentleman across from us asked where we were from. It turns out he is a Dutch National who lived in New York (and thus had a very odd accent, kind of like a New York British thing) and was going to visit his daughter who lived on Capri.

Getting off the train at around 7:30pm, we saw that Naples lived up to its reputation. It was busy, dirty, and drivers generally ignored crosswalks and traffic signals. Luckily the hotel wasn’t too hard to find, and we dropped off our stuff before deciding to go to arguably the best pizza place in the world: Pizzeria da Michele.

Waiting outside for about an hour to get a table, we were put in a table with 8 people. Next to us was an older couple who we spoke with in Italian and found out that they were Napoli locals. The other side was a well dressed couple of 35 or so. The place was unassuming, packed, and the ovens were right next to the tables. There were two choices of pizza: marinara or margherita, and they were four dollars each. Grabbing one of each types and some beer, we quickly got the pizza.

The thing is, that we didn’t realize eating pizza was actually a race. The older couple to the next of us basically attacked their pies and finished them before we had a slice each. Everyone around us was just scarfing this pizza. And we could see why, the food was amazing. The dough was very thin, the sauce fresh and flavorful, the crust slightly burned, and cheese lightly sprinkled on top. Coming to only (!) 11 euro combined, we exited this eatery with delighted taste buds and full stomachs.

Managing to navigate the rough streets of Naples once again, we went to bed pretty early so we could wake up early and catch the 8am bus to Agerola so we could arrive quite early at the coast.

Friday, September 18th, 2009

Waking up at 6:15 and out of the hotel at 7:00, we went down to the port where the SITA bus stop was marked on the schedule we had and on her tourbook. The only problem is, we couldn’t find it. Wandering all around the ferry dock and port, we eventually took a long walk to another transport hub where we asked a group of Napoliese where the bus station was. They didn’t know, and didn’t speak English, and we couldn’t convey what we were trying to find that well with my Italian skills.

They were talking loudly, as people of Naples tend to do, and started yelling at a port police officer if he spoke English. He waved us over, and we had a very excitable conversation (for you see, they can never have a conversation at normal volume, it must be loud and passionate) before he pointed us to where the station was—the place we were just at. We began the long walk back, and were starting to get worried about time. Finding the “Red” building he mentioned, we once again asked someone where the SITA station was. He pointed us down the road even further, with 10 minutes to go. We saw the small SITA sign and just started running flat out with our backpacks and weight flying behind us. Rushing into the ticket station at 7:57, we grabbed two tickets and got on the bus with a minute to spare.

This bus was quite the trip. Two hours of going through windy one and a half lane roads on the side of cliffs, we were treated with the beepBEEPbeep of the bus horn every time he went around a blind corner at blinding (bad pun, sorry) speed. Someone managing to survive, we arrived in the little town of Agerola at 10:00, and found our hotel at 10:15. Perched on a cliff about 1km above sea level, the view was incredible, and the family who ran it gave us orange juice on their porch while we surveyed the scene.

Dropping off our stuff in the room, we took a bus down to Amalfi after an hour-long nap. This bus was was much like the other one, but instead of going somewhere at the same elevation, this bus basically went down switchbacks for an hour before depositing us at Amalfi. We wandered around through this town and the one immediately next to it along the coast, and we got a tuna sandwich (Italian style) before settling down at the beach for some swimming and soaking up some sun.

Satisfying our sun absorption quotas, we went to the Cathedral and main Piazza at Amalfi and did some shopping and wandering around in the small side streets and stairways that characterized this coast. We also saw a Carabinieri (military police and main police force of Italy) helicopter drop off some hotshot 30-something officer, who wandered around town being awesome.

Taking the last bus back to Agerola, we barely got a place to sit on the bus. Then we watched some Flight of the Conchords before going to bed early.

Saturday, September 19th, 2009

Waking up at 3am to the sound of what was very much like I imagined what 2000 frog-lungfish hybrid creatures would make, we slept in until 9(!) before heading down to the reception at the hotel to see if we could stay another night. After getting a positive answer, we took the bus to Amalfi and then took another short bus to a nearby town to begin the 6 hour hike called “Pathway of the Gods.” We started at the opposite end that most people recommend because we wanted to end up in Postiano at the end of the trip. Finding a (poor) map of the area and then going straight up for about an hour in rough-hewn stone steps, it was very much a hot and sweaty experience. We quickly drained 2 liters of water, and were starting to worry until we found a godsend: a cold water faucet. Occasionally by the trail were houses and small terraced farms built into the side of the hills, and this was one of theirs. Getting our heads wet and quickly hydrating with massive amounts of water, we tried to find out where we were. After quite a while of contemplating about it, Rachel had the idea of using my compass, the map, and the monastery that we could see to try and see what parallel we were on.

Luckily this worked, and after another half an hour of just walking basically straight up, we hit the main trail and started walking along an amazing landscape of water, farms, and abandoned stone houses. Often it reminded me of a scene from Lord of the Rings. It was simply amazing, and there were little lizards everywhere. We met about 6 other people during the entire time at the trail, and had lunch sitting outside an abandoned stone farmhouse overlooking the towns to the east and west of us while soaking in the sea meeting the sky directly ahead.

After another hour or two, we hit Nocelle—which was a small town that was perched over a cliff and was accessed by a staircase down to Postiano boasting 1,700 individual stairs. Making this long descent, we hit the “jewel of the coast.” Postiano was even cooler than Amalfi, and was even more of a vertical city marked by a huge cliff splitting the town into two. After some additional shopping and soaking in the city, we went to dinner in a place that was (surprise) perched over a cliff. I had Gnocchi with Tomato sauce and Mozzarella (a local dish), while Rachel had “Frutti di Mare Mista” (Mixed Seafood). The gnocchi was exceptional, and the seafood was pretty interesting. I caught Rachel staring at her food with a weird face, and she said it was like she was getting an allergic reaction. She’s allergic to peanuts, and her mouth was suddenly dry like a reaction was occurring, even though it didn’t taste like peanuts.

I tasted the fish to see if I could taste any peanuts, and the same thing happened to me! We figure it was some weird spice that caused this effect. Luckily nobody was going to the hospital, and we then semi-fled to the last bus to Amalfi. On the way there, the beautiful day started to turn very rainy, in a hurry. It went from sunny to absolutely pouring in 5 minutes, with the sky covered in cloud-cloud lightning. We could actually see a fast moving thunderhead surging vertically into the sky. Unfortunately, the bus “shelter” could actually fit about two people, and we didn’t bring any rain coats or jackets. Huddling under a tree, we waited while soaking wet for the bus to finally arrive. Hopping on, we thought things were looking up.

Then the retards from the American Military behind us opened their mouths. They were every stereotype we hoped to avoid while in Italy: they were loud, obnoxious, drunk, Southern, didn’t speak or try to speak in Italian, and talked about very inappropriate topics on the bus. Loudly. It seemed that their idea of Italy was that since everyone was being quiet on the bus, they should talk as loudly as possible about whatever stupid topic they could think of. We slunk into our seats, embarrassed, and decided that if anyone asked, we were from Victoria, British Columbia.

The “Americans” finally stumbled off the bus and we ended up in Amalfi in the midst of what I didn’t think was possible: a harder rain than the one we left 30 minutes ago. Hiding in a bus shelter, we were trying to figure out what bus was going to our town. The issue is that SITA (the transit authority), randomly had buses arrive, and usually didn’t bother changing their destination signs. There were no route numbers, and a bus arriving from one place is probably going to start a route to a completely other town. We had to wander around looking at small hand written signs in the windows of very modern buses to finally find our bus. And by wander around I meant darting out from the tent we were hiding under and getting soaked in the process.

Then the “Americans” got on again. It turns out that they didn’t know where the transit hub was and just got off at some bar to drink more before wandering back onto our bus. This time it was different: they brought open beers with them this time! Conversing about what to do with their now passed-out friend and drinking more, they said only one word in Italian: where they were going. Finally the bus driver just opened the doors and said “Bomoro” (their stop), and they shuffled off the bus. The next morning I saw where we stopped, and it was about a km from their actual stop. Turns out Italians don’t take crap from nobody.

Sunday, September 20th, 2009

Since we had an extra day, we decided to go to Pompeii. The only issue was that in order to get there, we had to wake up at 5:15am to catch the 6:00 bus from Agerola to Amalfi. This ride was basically empty, and we enjoyed the sunrise over Amalfi for 5 minutes before getting on the 90 minute busride to Salerno before grabbing some coffee at a local bar and then getting bus tickets for the two hour ride to Pompeii.

Winding through small towns, we finally arrived at 11:00am to Pompeii and entered the oft-cited ruins. They did not disappoint. With Vesuvius in the background, we began to explore this ruined city. The site was larger than I had imagined, and the ruins were well restored and excavated. We went around for a few hours before getting rather bored with the ruins and figured out how to get back to Naples.

Taking a small local train to Naples, we booked two seats on the faster Intercity Train to Roma. After an air-conditioned two hour ride in comfort, we made it in Rome at 5:30pm. Grabbing some food to eat and resting for a few minutes (remember that we were up since 5am) we left at 7:15 for the A.S. Roma game. Taking a very crowded and typical Roman bus, we arrived at the stadium at around 8:20 or so. The police were out in force, and they didn’t check our bags or do any screening of any sort. This will be important in a little bit.

Finding out that our seats were taken by some other very cranky Italians, we grabbed some empty seats nearby and were in the midst of a Roman football match. After the first Roma goal, there was a large BANG in the empty section next to us. Then another BANG BANG BANG. Nobody seemed that concerned that someone was throwing very loud fireworks into this section, and then all hell broke loose.

This empty section suddenly flooded with fans, scrambling like monkeys over the barriers and filling the seats almost instantaneously. They all brought scarves, banners, and lots and lots of flares and fireworks. Immediately beginning to sing loudly, these fans used the explosives to “distract” the guards while they bum-rushed the gate and thus got free admission into the game.

The guards (and there were a lot) stayed out of the section as the party went on with flares aplenty. From what a guy in our program says, Europeans will occasionally do this for matches they want to go to. The security people don’t care too much because they are a loud fan section, and the explosives, while being very loud, were not very “dangerous.” The firefighters (yes, there were 4 of them at each corner of the pitch), were unconcerned with all of this. After such a unique experience and A. S. Roma winning 3-1, we all waited to see what the loud and explosive-ridden fan section next to ours was going to do at the end of the game.

They just left. My theory is that if they were rowdy, security would try harder to keep them out and it would be bad news bears for everyone. We rushed out to catch a bus back, and when it arrived, we saw one of our professors from the program, who told us to “rush the bus.” Cramming the bus to the max, the doors were open for perhaps 20 seconds before we were on our way. Rachel and I were in the way back of the bus while two 16 year olds were sitting above us on the engine compartment.

Then the camp bus simulation began. The entire bus broke out in Roma victory songs and chants, and it was like this for the entire ride back to our stop.

Getting back, I checked my long-ignored e-mail before getting to bed. The best we could figure is that we took 8 different public transit trips in 20 hours.

Photos

Monday, September 14th, 2009

This was the first class with Professor Lovell, who is a pretty neat guy that has a snarky sense of humor, a love of all things Supreme Court, and vaguely looks like me. After class was our first interview for the group project. After class we talked with an Italian blogger and journalist who was also involved in the Open Source Movement. A few hours later we were finished and went off our separate ways. This day also marked the arrival of rain showers in Rome. When I heard this thunderstorm outside while I was studying in the library, there was little choice but to run back to my apartment, throw on a coat, and wander around getting soaked.

Later that night a group of us went down to see the Colosseum again at night, but this time the place was covered in rain and moisture! When we got back I finished up my response paper for class on Wednesday—we were discussing internet and employment law.

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009

After a typical class with Professor McCann, we had our second interview—this time with a corporate attorney for debt collectors regarding the protection of data privacy and other related matters. His viewpoint was very procedural—as one would expect a civil lawyer’s view to be—but we still got a lot out of his viewpoint. It was raining basically all afternoon, so we stayed indoors and had a calm night.

Wednesday, September 16th, 2009

This was by far the busiest day for me in the program. I woke up early to prepare for class that day, and then after class had to run to the A. S. Roma ticket office next to the Pantheon to get tickets for the Football (Soccer) game on Sunday. Then I had to run back to lead my group to our third interview at the Guarante, which is an Italian governmental organization set up to protect the use of private data. The interview was a mix between very grand ideas from the upper management, the reality from the case workers, and dotted with optimism for the future from everyone. As an added bonus we got free buttons, stickers, and baseball hats from the place.

After this long tour/interview, we briefly hit up a gelato place before rushing back to another lecture at 5:00pm about Italy and the death penalty. Finally after this two hour lecture and discussion, Rachel and I fled up to the student lounge to quickly write our response papers for the next class. Finally after all of this, we went to grab a quick dinner before watching some of The Dark Knight before sleeping a very well-earned rest.

Thursday, September 17th, 2009

This was the second class in two days where I had a response paper due, and things went well (I think). We were trying to plan out what to do with our last weekend in Italy, and this was the “free” weekend where nothing else was planned with the program. Quickly reading Rachel’s tour book in class, we had our respective group meetings after class before going to the library to try and figure out where to go. After quite some time, we decided to take a regional train to Napoli (Naples), stay in a hotel right next to the trian station, and then wake up early the next morning to go and stay at the Amalfi Coast.

Quickly packing and rushing to the train station after missing the first bus, we managed to get to the trian with 5 minutes to spare. The only problem is that with a regional train (the “slowest”, cheapest class), is that you cannot reserve seats, and they don’t limit the number of people who can board. So we ended up standing in the causeway between cars with about 10 other people, sweating away. Finally after about an hour some seats opened up and could sit down the rest of the way. About 30 minutes before arriving in Naples, the gentleman across from us asked where we were from. It turns out he is a Dutch National who lived in New York (and thus had a very odd accent, kind of like a New York British thing) and was going to visit his daughter who lived on Capri.

Getting off the train at around 7:30pm, we saw that Naples lived up to its reputation. It was busy, dirty, and drivers generally ignored crosswalks and traffic signals. Luckily the hotel wasn’t too hard to find, and we dropped off our stuff before deciding to go to arguably the best pizza place in the world: Pizzeria da Michele.

Waiting outside for about an hour to get a table, we were put in a table with 8 people. Next to us was an older couple who we spoke with in Italian and found out that they were Napoli locals. The other side was a well dressed couple of 35 or so. The place was unassuming, packed, and the ovens were right next to the tables. There were two choices of pizza: marinara or margherita, and they were four dollars each. Grabbing one of each types and some beer, we quickly got the pizza.

The thing is, that we didn’t realize eating pizza was actually a race. The older couple to the next of us basically attacked their pies and finished them before we had a slice each. Everyone around us was just scarfing this pizza. And we could see why, the food was amazing. The dough was very thin, the sauce fresh and flavorful, the crust slightly burned, and cheese lightly sprinkled on top. Coming to only (!) 11 euro combined, we exited this eatery with delighted taste buds and full stomachs.

Managing to navigate the rough streets of Naples once again, we went to bed pretty early so we could wake up early and catch the 8am bus to Agerola so we could arrive quite early at the coast.

Friday, September 18th, 2009

Waking up at 6:15 and out of the hotel at 7:00, we went down to the port where the SITA bus stop was marked on the schedule we had and on her tourbook. The only problem is, we couldn’t find it. Wandering all around the ferry dock and port, we eventually took a long walk to another transport hub where we asked a group of Napoliese where the bus station was. They didn’t know, and didn’t speak English, and we couldn’t convey what we were trying to find that well with my Italian skills.

They were talking loudly, as people of Naples tend to do, and started yelling at a port police officer if he spoke English. He waved us over, and we had a very excitable conversation (for you see, they can never have a conversation at normal volume, it must be loud and passionate) before he pointed us to where the station was—the place we were just at. We began the long walk back, and were starting to get worried about time. Finding the “Red” building he mentioned, we once again asked someone where the SITA station was. He pointed us down the road even further, with 10 minutes to go. We saw the small SITA sign and just started running flat out with our backpacks and weight flying behind us. Rushing into the ticket station at 7:57, we grabbed two tickets and got on the bus with a minute to spare.

This bus was quite the trip. Two hours of going through windy one and a half lane roads on the side of cliffs, we were treated with the beepBEEPbeep of the bus horn every time he went around a blind corner at blinding (bad pun, sorry) speed. Someone managing to survive, we arrived in the little town of Agerola at 10:00, and found our hotel at 10:15. Perched on a cliff about 1km above sea level, the view was incredible, and the family who ran it gave us orange juice on their porch while we surveyed the scene.

Dropping off our stuff in the room, we took a bus down to Amalfi after an hour-long nap. This bus was was much like the other one, but instead of going somewhere at the same elevation, this bus basically went down switchbacks for an hour before depositing us at Amalfi. We wandered around through this town and the one immediately next to it along the coast, and we got a tuna sandwich (Italian style) before settling down at the beach for some swimming and soaking up some sun.

Satisfying our sun absorption quotas, we went to the Cathedral and main Piazza at Amalfi and did some shopping and wandering around in the small side streets and stairways that characterized this coast. We also saw a Carabinieri (military police and main police force of Italy) helicopter drop off some hotshot 30-something officer, who wandered around town being awesome.

Taking the last bus back to Agerola, we barely got a place to sit on the bus. Then we watched some Flight of the Conchords before going to bed early.

Saturday, September 19th, 2009

Waking up at 3am to the sound of what was very much like I imagined what 2000 frog-lungfish hybrid creatures would make, we slept in until 9(!) before heading down to the reception at the hotel to see if we could stay another night. After getting a positive answer, we took the bus to Amalfi and then took another short bus to a nearby town to begin the 6 hour hike called “Pathway of the Gods.” We started at the opposite end that most people recommend because we wanted to end up in Postiano at the end of the trip. Finding a (poor) map of the area and then going straight up for about an hour in rough-hewn stone steps, it was very much a hot and sweaty experience. We quickly drained 2 liters of water, and were starting to worry until we found a godsend: a cold water faucet. Occasionally by the trail were houses and small terraced farms built into the side of the hills, and this was one of theirs. Getting our heads wet and quickly hydrating with massive amounts of water, we tried to find out where we were. After quite a while of contemplating about it, Rachel had the idea of using my compass, the map, and the monastery that we could see to try and see what parallel we were on.

Luckily this worked, and after another half an hour of just walking basically straight up, we hit the main trail and started walking along an amazing landscape of water, farms, and abandoned stone houses. Often it reminded me of a scene from Lord of the Rings. It was simply amazing, and there were little lizards everywhere. We met about 6 other people during the entire time at the trail, and had lunch sitting outside an abandoned stone farmhouse overlooking the towns to the east and west of us while soaking in the sea meeting the sky directly ahead.

After another hour or two, we hit Nocelle—which was a small town that was perched over a cliff and was accessed by a staircase down to Postiano boasting 1,700 individual stairs. Making this long descent, we hit the “jewel of the coast.” Postiano was even cooler than Amalfi, and was even more of a vertical city marked by a huge cliff splitting the town into two. After some additional shopping and soaking in the city, we went to dinner in a place that was (surprise) perched over a cliff. I had Gnocchi with Tomato sauce and Mozzarella (a local dish), while Rachel had “Frutti di Mare Mista” (Mixed Seafood). The gnocchi was exceptional, and the seafood was pretty interesting. I caught Rachel staring at her food with a weird face, and she said it was like she was getting an allergic reaction. She’s allergic to peanuts, and her mouth was suddenly dry like a reaction was occurring, even though it didn’t taste like peanuts.

I tasted the fish to see if I could taste any peanuts, and the same thing happened to me! We figure it was some weird spice that caused this effect. Luckily nobody was going to the hospital, and we then semi-fled to the last bus to Amalfi. On the way there, the beautiful day started to turn very rainy, in a hurry. It went from sunny to absolutely pouring in 5 minutes, with the sky covered in cloud-cloud lightning. We could actually see a fast moving thunderhead surging vertically into the sky. Unfortunately, the bus “shelter” could actually fit about two people, and we didn’t bring any rain coats or jackets. Huddling under a tree, we waited while soaking wet for the bus to finally arrive. Hopping on, we thought things were looking up.

Then the retards from the American Military behind us opened their mouths. They were every stereotype we hoped to avoid while in Italy: they were loud, obnoxious, drunk, Southern, didn’t speak or try to speak in Italian, and talked about very inappropriate topics on the bus. Loudly. It seemed that their idea of Italy was that since everyone was being quiet on the bus, they should talk as loudly as possible about whatever stupid topic they could think of. We slunk into our seats, embarrassed, and decided that if anyone asked, we were from Victoria, British Columbia.

The “Americans” finally stumbled off the bus and we ended up in Amalfi in the midst of what I didn’t think was possible: a harder rain than the one we left 30 minutes ago. Hiding in a bus shelter, we were trying to figure out what bus was going to our town. The issue is that SITA (the transit authority), randomly had buses arrive, and usually didn’t bother changing their destination signs. There were no route numbers, and a bus arriving from one place is probably going to start a route to a completely other town. We had to wander around looking at small hand written signs in the windows of very modern buses to finally find our bus. And by wander around I meant darting out from the tent we were hiding under and getting soaked in the process.

Then the “Americans” got on again. It turns out that they didn’t know where the transit hub was and just got off at some bar to drink more before wandering back onto our bus. This time it was different: they brought open beers with them this time! Conversing about what to do with their now passed-out friend and drinking more, they said only one word in Italian: where they were going. Finally the bus driver just opened the doors and said “Bomoro” (their stop), and they shuffled off the bus. The next morning I saw where we stopped, and it was about a km from their actual stop. Turns out Italians don’t take crap from nobody.

Sunday, September 20th, 2009

Since we had an extra day, we decided to go to Pompeii. The only issue was that in order to get there, we had to wake up at 5:15am to catch the 6:00 bus from Agerola to Amalfi. This ride was basically empty, and we enjoyed the sunrise over Amalfi for 5 minutes before getting on the 90 minute busride to Salerno before grabbing some coffee at a local bar and then getting bus tickets for the two hour ride to Pompeii.

Winding through small towns, we finally arrived at 11:00am to Pompeii and entered the oft-cited ruins. They did not disappoint. With Vesuvius in the background, we began to explore this ruined city. The site was larger than I had imagined, and the ruins were well restored and excavated. We went around for a few hours before getting rather bored with the ruins and figured out how to get back to Naples.

Taking a small local train to Naples, we booked two seats on the faster Intercity Train to Roma. After an air-conditioned two hour ride in comfort, we made it in Rome at 5:30pm. I’m pretty sure we got the last two seats on the Train, as we were in the way back in the middle seats. Grabbing some food to eat and resting for a few minutes (remember that we were up since 5am) we left at 7:15 for the A.S. Roma game. Taking a very crowded and typical Roman bus, we arrived at the stadium at around 8:20 or so. The police were out in force, and they didn’t check our bags or do any screening of any sort. This will be important in a little bit.

Finding out that our seats were taken by some other very cranky Italians, we grabbed some empty seats nearby and were in the midst of a Roman football match. After the first Roma goal, there was a large BANG in the empty section next to us. Then another BANG BANG BANG. Nobody seemed that concerned that someone was throwing very loud fireworks into this section, and then all hell broke loose.

This empty section suddenly flooded with fans, scrambling like monkeys over the barriers and filling the seats almost instantaneously. They all brought scarves, banners, and lots and lots of flares and fireworks. Immediately beginning to sing loudly, these fans used the explosives to “distract” the guards while they bum-rushed the gate and thus got free admission into the game.

The guards (and there were a lot) stayed out of the section as the party went on with flares aplenty. From what a guy in our program says, Europeans will occasionally do this for matches they want to go to. The security people don’t care too much because they are a loud fan section, and the explosives, while being very loud, were not very “dangerous.” The firefighters (yes, there were 4 of them at each corner of the pitch), were unconcerned with all of this. After such a unique experience and A. S. Roma winning 3-1, we all waited to see what the loud and explosive-ridden fan section next to ours was going to do at the end of the game.

They just left. My theory is that if they were rowdy, security would try harder to keep them out and it would be bad news bears for everyone. We rushed out to catch a bus back, and when it arrived, we saw one of our professors from the program, who told us to “rush the bus.” Cramming the bus to the max, the doors were open for perhaps 20 seconds before we were on our way. Rachel and I were in the way back of the bus while two 16 year olds were sitting above us on the engine compartment.

Then the camp bus simulation began. The entire bus broke out in Roma victory songs and chants, and it was like this for the entire ride back to our stop.

Getting back, I checked my long-ignored e-mail before getting to bed.

Photos:

Regarding photos, I don’t have time to process all of them right now. Any that haven’t been posted yet (and it’s been a while), I will post when I get to my apartment in Seattle where I have a proper computer set up to deal with them. :)

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