by Melinda Gallo

Training it back to Rome

As we board our Eurostar train to go to Rome it was beginning to drizzle. When we arrived at the door to our carrozza (car), I couldn't help but notice the people standing outside the doors smoking cigarettes. I had to hold my breath before I got on so I wouldn't breathe in all their smoke. In our carrozza, the seats were filled with men in suits carrying brief cases in one hand and a cell phone wedged up to their ears with the other hand.

A man stood in the aisle and hovered over the seat next to me. He looked at me, then at my computer bag on the chair, back at me, and again at my computer bag. I understood that he wanted me to move my things. I got a little upset because he couldn't bring himself to say anything to me. So, in return, I didn't say anything to him either.

I knew he was a Florentine the second he sat down because he was talking on the phone and I could hear his accent. After we went to Rome last week, I realized how the Romans didn't seem to care if I wasn't Italian or not. They would speak to me in Italian like anyone else and didn't differentiate between Italians and non-Italians. The Florentines, on the other hand, are quick to judge and assume that if you're not Italian, you don't speak Italian.

I found out that his name was Marco. Not because he told me, but because he would tell each person he called, "Ciao sono Marco." He was continually making calls and usually ended each conversation with, "Ti mando un'email" (I'll send you an email), which he did on his Blackberry right after he hung up.

He seemed to upset other people besides me. The controllore (controller) came by for our tickets and Marco purchased his on-line and was "ticketless." The controllore asked him if he was in the proper seat and Marco said, "Settantatre." The controllore then said, "Le ho fatto una domanda. il suo posto? S o no?" Marco responded correctly, but the controllore let out a big sigh, tore off the receipt from his little aggeggio (gadget), and said, "A lei" and walked away.

It was easy to tell when we're getting close to Rome: six and seven-story apartment buildings hinder the view. They look like Monopoly hotels because of their blocky rectangular shape. At the top of each building is a group of antennae of all different sizes. The balconies are usually littered with plants and some people hang out their laundry to dry. On some of the balconies, I noticed a few satellite dishes facing in the same direction like sunflowers.

The train slows down and the announcement is made in English and Italian. Everyone puts on their coats, gathers their things, and stand in the aisles until the train has stopped. After we got off, we went to a place downstairs called Momento to get us a caff latte, which we thought we be "Starbucks-style," but it wasn't. The Termini train station has a large variety of shops, grocery stores, and bookstores, but we haven't had any time to do any shopping.

We walked outside to the taxi station where people were stood as if there were no line. I saw who arrived after me, so I was determined to get in a taxi when my turn came up. I was practicing what I was going to say to the three people who walked up to the front of the line. When the next taxi came, I just walked up to it and opened the door. Possession is 9/10 of the law here as well.

Share your comments for this blog post on the Living in Florence's Facebook page. Grazie!