After a bus ride form the Airport to Piazza Cavour in the center of Rome, I meet up with my good friend Gabe. We were both classmates at university and will be starting school together in just a couple months. But before that, we will be traveling together first bicycling through the Loire, then farming in Northern Italy, and later jumping from Amsterdam to Prague to Budapest, finally ending up touring around Sicilia.
Gabe has been living in Rome for the last year working half the time in an Italian kitchen and the other half of the time organizing elaborate Italian events and holidays. When he picks me up, he is carrying several bottles of wine that a client gifted him as a thank you. He calls up Sam, his good friend in Rome who picks up some delicious steaks and meets us at Gabe’s apartment. Both Sam and Gabe demonstrate their cooking skills as we savor the rich, full-bodied reds that complement the steaks perfectly. Rome starts as food, wine, and friends.
In the spaces between picking up some food, eating and catching up on each other’s lives, Gabe points out some of his neighbors, including the Pope. We walk through the Vatican, which happens to be the view from his apartment window, and I start to soak up the immense amount of history packed into a relatively small space. After dinner, we celebrate one of Gabe’s friend’s birthdays in the middle of the Circus Maximus, where I imagine Ben Hur racing around us. We follow this with a visit to the pub affectionately known as Mafia Bar, a hole in the wall karaoke place full of Italians that stays open well into the morning. We leave to the sun rising in the distance, pop into a bakery for fresh morning pastries, and head to sleep.