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Final day in Lido di Ostia

Well, after a fascinating stay of almost three months here in Italy, today is my last day before I relocate to Romania for a month.

…and what a gift – this morning there was a procession on the main street below, complete with flag-throwing!  I had only ever seen that in the movies – and in particular in one of my absolute favourite movies, “Under the Tuscan Sun”:

  • Patti: These are straight men.
  • Frances: In tights. Waving Flags.
  • Patti: Fantastic.
  • Frances: Yeah!

 

…and last night’s sunset…
Farewell, Italy…

Driving Holiday Along the Amalfi Coast in Italy

What an absolutely fabulous five days we had driving from Lido di Ostia down to Amalfi and Ravello, back up through Positano and Sorrento… (more items now checked off my Bucket List! http://luxuriousnomad.com/bucket-list/)

Our first stop after having picked up a rental car and leaving Ostia was Terracina, an ancient Roman ‘colonia maritima’.

Atop the impressive hill is the equally impressive Temple of Jupiter Anxur.

From there, the following day we drove down to Amalfi… (and the roads do not need elaboration – and yes, they were as ridiculous and squishy as they appear in the photos!)

Oh, and on the wall in the photo below, it says “MURAL NOT FOUND” – someone’s idea of a joke?

Quick stop for lunch…

Then, after two glorious nights in Amalfi, we headed north to Positano (I LOVE Positano!) and Sorrento…

Mount Vesuvius…

Then, for the last night of our trip, staying in the Grand Hotel Vanvitelli, in San Marco Evangelista.

Oh, and why a photo of the map?  Because rather than say “Carlo the third”, it kept saying “Carlo Eye Eye Eye”…  LOL!  It was very funny – ok, perhaps you needed to be there!  LOL!

…and finally back to the Leonardo da Vinci Fiumicino Airport…

 

 

 

Glorious Day Exploring Rome!

Today I decided to go exploring Roma!

First, it was a twenty-minute walk to the train station and what started out as rather a hazy day ended up being brilliant sunshine by the time I reached Rome – just over an hour later.

Actually, my day involved walking, train, walking, train, walking, bus, walking, bus, walking, bus, walking, train, walking, train, walking…  Home!  By the time I reached home the sun was still shining but I was ready for bed!  LOL!

On my way to Lido Centro (the train station here in Lido di Ostia) I passed a permanent children’s fairground – it was wonderful!  Although this is the second time I have passed it – once (today) on a weekday and the other on a weekend, and both times the place was virtually empty…  Just weird abandoned rides playing music and talking…….

I arrived at the station and I knew I needed to go to Piramide Stazione and transfer there to go to Roma Termini…  However, when I arrived at the station not only was there no operating ticket office, the ticket machines were broken!  I managed to find one that was working and discovered that there is not a separate ticket for the journey, but rather a 24 hour ticket that covers all Rome transit!

Sounded good – however the button for the 24 hour ticket was broken!  LOL!  So, I ended up having to buy a 48 hour ticket…

OK – so far so good…  When I reached the platforms, one said it had trains going to Roma and the other to Colombo – so not wanting to venture into a 1970s television drama, I chose the Roma platform.

…and you can tell, I set off reasonably early (even for me!) as on the way home, there was about twenty-plus-times this number of people!

Unlike in Vienna where graffiti is considered an art form, here it is just a menace – but even things that don’t stand still are tagged…

 

So, at this point, I am on the train with my destination being Piramide…  Although if you look carefully at the list of stations, there is no Piramide mentioned!!!

Turns out, going TO Rome, the station is called Porta San Paulo!  Only coming BACK is it called Piramide!

So, we are ensconced on the train and all of a sudden the most glorious Italian voice starts singing, accompanied by a guitar…  After the performance this man (below) picked up his equipment and moved to the next carriage and started all over again…

Arrived in Porta San Paulo (Piramide) and managed to find my way to the other part of the station where the trains head to Rome…

Finally arriving in Roma Termini (A & B line terminus) I set about my Rome adventure…

…and it must be rough being a minibus driver here…

These police looked like they were setting up for a car boot sale!

Have you ever heard the phrase, “vestal virgins”?

Until today, I had never actually considered that vestal virgins were a ‘thing’ (technical word).  See this circus (circle) below?  It is where they used to bury vestal virgins alive…  Why?  Because it was illegal to spill their blood…  Go figure…

I love doors in walls…

Apparently many Italians detest the design of this building, thinking it looks like a wedding cake.  I think it is lovely!

Nothing could have prepared me for the AWEsomeness of the Colesseum!!!

Chariot racing, anyone?

This (below) is reportedly the spot where Nero watched Rome burn…

…and in typical Italian fashion, all the cars below are parked…….

Waterfront property in Rome?

I love all the orange trees lining streets….

…and heavenly!!!  Used book stall after used book stall after used book stall…….!!!

…and of course somewhere to buy your Prado (rather than Prada) wallets…

Finally back to the train station… Changing at Piramide…

…and this is why the station is named as such – although I was going to go and explore however I was chastised VERY sternly by an armed guard that I was not to take photos (he didn’t realize I had already snapped this one) and that I was to be on my way or he would take my camera!

So, on another train…  and the train this time was soooooo unlike the earlier one I didn’t even want to take a photo of the inside.  It was disgusting and smelled horrid… and was sooooooo cramped, it was like being on a NYC subway at rush-hour!

Finally back in Ostia and walking home, I passed a gas station…  (below)

So, now home safe and sound…

Oh, and I thought I would share the roses I bought for myself last night…  Their aroma is magnificent – like roses used to smell…  and I felt like a college student putting them into the only vases I had = empty wine bottles!  🙂

…and just what every girl should have beside her bed – a rose, magnesium oil, massage oil and an Oscar!  🙂

Buonasera!

~ Bella

 

Market Day in Lido di Ostia

It’s market day in Catona…  Hmmmm, no, wait – that’s the line in “Under the Tuscan Sun”!  …but that’s what it feels like…  I feel as though I am alternately living the scripts from “Eat, Pray, Love” and “Under the Tuscan Sun”…

Anyway, yes, today (Saturday morning) is market day here in Ostia.

In addition to all the street vendors I mentioned in a previous post selling everything from vegetables to “Prado” wallets (ok, so another movie reference (“Serendipity”)), there are indoor markets such as this one less than a block from where I live.

It is a huge inside food and flower market, selling everything from vegetables to meat, cheese, seafood and more…

The prices of food here is very good – and the price of wine even better!  🙂

For instance, last night I went literally two doors from home to an Indian restaurant – that reviewers have said is the best in all of Rome (and Rome is an hour away!)… and not only was it delicious, but a half-litre carafe of red wine (una caraffa di vino rosso) was a massive four euro!  I knew I liked this place for a reason…  🙂

Although, one element that is taking some getting used to is that people eat supper very late here, with many restaurants not even opening until 8:00pm.  While I do not mind waiting until 8:30pm or 9:00pm for a formal dinner as is often the case in England, for a regular evening meal where I need to go out to eat – and more importantly come home late – I would really rather eat much earlier.

I arrived here just as they opened so pretty much had the place to myself until just before I left.

Now that I am settled in, I usually go out a couple of times a week to buy groceries and this (below) is a fairly typical meal with enough for left-overs…  That and (again with the movie references), the dolce far niente of Julia Roberts in ‘Eat, Pray, Love’, nibbling on some cheese and bread…  Perfetto!

…and another perfect sunset viewed from my balcony…

Ciao!

~ Bella

Anti-Mafia Rally On My Street

Sitting out on my balcony, working on Bridgit’s next book and I hear a commotion down on street level, getting louder and louder, closer and closer…

So, I grabbed my camera and looked down to see what was happening…

It was an anti-mafia rally!  Turns out (after being then curious enough to do some research) since 2013 there has been a significant mafia presence here in Ostia.  Apparently they prefer the ocean to the city so have moved much of their operational base here.

My best attempt at translating the banner below:

If the youth denies the consensus also, the mysterious and all-powerful Mafia will fade away

People of all ages and walks of life were involved – from school children to pensioners…

This unfortunate elderly couple were attempting to cross the road…

…and, as always, the cars push through… (at least the pedestrians know to get out of their way – well, most of them)

Why are these policemen all turned around?

They are looking at this woman who is actually hitting the man in the car who literally bumped her!

But, this is Italy, so they allowed her to continue and eventually flagged the man through the intersection and away from her…

…at least it is never boring here!

Until next time…

~ Bella

 

ostia

Ostia Update #2

It is another glorious day (Monday) here in Lido di Ostia!  It is a little overcast, but the sun is shining, it is around 20oC and barely a breeze…

By the way, here is a map giving you an idea of where Ostia is in (the blue dot) relation to Rome – about an hour away.

My first stop was the bank to get some cash.  I had already gone hunting to find an ATM but not being successful, eventually asked Andrea (who owns my apartment) and he advised that there are several, but they are all inside…

I don’t know if you can tell from this photo (there was someone using the ATM and another waiting after me so didn’t want to be too obvious) but to enter a bank here, you not only go through the first door, but you then need to enter through a second secure door…  It feels like airport security!

Anyway, cash procured I decided to go and check out what is reported to be Lido di Ostia’s number one tourist attraction – Pontile di Ostia (or the Ostia Pier)…

It is only a 10 minute walk and on the way saw more ‘interesting’ parking…  LOL!

…and no, neither ASSHOTEL nor Hotel Ping Pong are someone’s idea of a joke… (and ASSHOTEL is the National Association of Hotel Entrepreneurs…)

Stopping for some lunch and a glass of wine, I was amused to watch the man in this Navara SUV reverse into the huge green garbage bin, and push it back about six feet (it was originally near the large pole) to make room for him to park…

It appears they are building many more bathing sheds in time for summer…

…and this is the legendary pier…  Hmmmmmm………….  I am not quite sure what makes it the number one attraction, but ok…

…all the stick-like-things in the distance are masts – the marina is about a 45 minute walk and is on my agenda for another day…

This photo below gives a better indication of how far to the marina…

No, these are not beach towels belonging to a race of giants – they are blankets for sale…

I was fascinated to see so many people fully dressed – many in business attire – reclining on the beach…

…and I am not sure what these two were up to – but it seemed to be a very unorthodox method of boating…

…and alas, Romeo left Juliet to fend for herself…

…and another magnificent sunset…

Well, am now back home again and back to work…

Sending love and smiles from Italy…

~ Bella

I love Ostia!

Welcome to Ostia Update #2…

I have been here just under a week and the more I get to know the place, the more I love it here!

As I write this, it is 20oC, a slight breeze is blowing in from the sea, there is literally not a cloud anywhere in the sky…  The only things visible above are the birds and the white trails of planes off in the distance…

Found my ‘local’

You know I like to have one or two (or three) local watering holes wherever I am that are essentially my ‘Cheers’ (where everybody knows your name).

Thus far, I have found my favourite ‘local’ – as in when I need to have people around me.  It is just at the end of my street and has all the main criteria…

Wifi, wine, comfy tables and chairs at which to work, nice people, good food, reasonably priced… and outdoor seating that is covered.

…and speaking of reasonably priced, whereas the other pizza place I went to on day one was delicious, for the pizza slices (that amounted to probably one more quarter than is in this photo) plus some Coke Zeros came to 21 euro.

Here, these slices (which btw is one slice of one, and one slice of the other – keep forgetting a ‘slice’ is the entire length of the huge pizza! – oh, well, will just take the rest home), plus half a spinach quiche, Coke Zero and a glass of wine…  21 euro!

…and I also love my local butcher – literally just downstairs…  They speak zero English so it is a wonderful opportunity for me to improve my Italian… and right next door to the butcher is my wine shop!

Yesterday I ventured out for a trip to the supermarket that is about a fifteen minute walk away and again, managed the entire shopping excursion using no English!

OK, so don’t get the wrong idea – my command of the Italian language amounts to about ten phrases, but so far I am picking things up reasonably well – and it is making me be ever so much more observant, paying attention to what others do and say…

I love it!

Watching life below…

Standing on the balcony of my penthouse, it is fascinating to just watch the life below…

As you see in this photo, there is a market in the car park – but apart from the shoes (that seem to be there every day) the other stalls change day by day… and on Saturdays, the entire space is FILLED to capacity…

Just one block away is a green grocer…

…and more ‘interesting’ parking…  🙂

…and every single evening, I am treated to a magical display of colours that is literally awe-inspiring…  Every evening!

Well, this little Princess Pixie needs to get back to work…

Will check in again later…

Sending love and smiles to all…

~ Bella xxx

 

Ostia Update

As I begin this post, it is Monday here in Ostia (after arriving on Saturday and sleeping much of Sunday!).

I went for a walk with the intention of getting some lunch, some wine and some groceries.  As the song says, two out of three ain’t bad.  Groceries can wait…  One has wine and pizza – all is well with the world…

My impressions of Ostia thus far (and perhaps could be extended to any metropolis in Italy, I do not yet know) are that the people are mostly friendly, behind a very self-important exterior.

I have made a decision to become as fluent as I can in Italian while I am here and as I find places where the staff are friendly and help me learn the words, they are the shops I will frequent.

Such as for lunch, I found a pizzeria about a block away where I had lunch (photo below) and in addition, I purchased a couple of different slices to bring home.

The man serving asked me in English if I wanted them hot or cold and I said cold but could he please help me learn how to ask for that in Italian?  He not only obliged, he had me repeat the words a couple of times until I pronounced them correctly and even put them into a sentence.  I will DEFINITELY be going back to that shop!

Hot = Caldo and Cold = Freddo

While I was sitting outside on this magical day – sun shining, not a cloud in the sky and 15oC / 59oF – I was amused by the traffic.

As soon as the lights change, people about four or five cars back beep their horn…  Cars are parked in the turning lane…

…and speaking of parking…  If you look at this photo below…  It looks like the silver car only has a couple of inches front and back, yes?  Well, you are correct.  That’s all they had – until they reversed INTO the car behind them and INTO the car in front of them and did about a seven-point turn to get out of the parking space…

Also while sitting having lunch, this car decided since there were no parks on the street, the sidewalk would do just fine.  It is certainly never boring here!

Typical building here taken with my phone while on my walk…

This is the post office…Then, I called into the bar beside home and bought a bottle of wine.  Between them not speaking very much English and me not yet speaking very much Italian, we managed to get by – thankfully most wines have the same varietal name in any language…

As I went to pay for the wine, the woman asked me a question in Italian.  I asked if she spoke English and she said, “no a little,” followed by pointing to the wine and saying, “gift yes?”

I said that it was a gift for me, but asked her (in Italian – Qual e la parola italiana per) what is the word ‘gift’?  She replied, “regalo” and, like the man before, helped me to make sure my pronunciation was correct.  I am especially happy with this, since this place is literally next door – and the closest place to buy wine!  🙂

OK, back to work…  Andrea (the man who owns my apartment) is coming by this evening to reinstall the table, chairs, umbrella etc…  I cannot begin to express how much I am looking forward to that.  There is such a fabulous energy out on the balcony!

…and Bridgit is still stuck in the English Channel awaiting my finishing the next book!

Ciao!

~ Bella

First Class Overnight Train from Vienna to Roma

Ostia, here I come!

My wonderful limousine company picked me up from the lovely hotel in which I stayed while in Vienna and deposited me at Wien Hauptbahnhof, more commonly known as Wien HBF – the main train station in Vienna.

…and btw, those of us old enough to know what it means to “spend a penny” will appreciate this…  One needs to exchange money for the convenience, however the penny now needs to be 50 cents!  Talk about inflation!  🙂

Now up to the platform to await my train… along with a gazillion teenagers.

According to Rail Europe, one’s carriage and room is clearly marked…  Me thinks the word “clearly” was lost in translation somewhere as the only indication of which carriage was which were small stickers on the inside window of the carriage doors… (so you can imagine the scrambling over one another that was occurring as everyone was attempting to find their allotaced conveyance) – and once on the correct carriage, my ticket said my room was number 11.  The only problem with that was that there were only eight rooms on the carriage…

Minor technicality I thought – only to have the steward tell me that 11 didn’t really mean 11 – it mean 1.  Of course, I should have known that (not!).

So, now safely curled up in room 11 or 1, we set off…  Auf wiedersehen, Wien!

In my room awaiting me were the newspaper (and a very cute baby giraffe on the cover!)…

…some slippers, a towel, and some goodies…

…coat-hangers…

…and a bottle of Prosecco!

After we were underway for about 20 minutes, the steward came by, took my breakfast order and made up my bed – that I have to say was VERY comfortable!

Once I found where everything was located and settled in, I curled up early and listened to the beginning of “The Shack” audio-book.  One of my clients told me how much she enjoyed the movie and I figure, unless I want to see it in the cinema in Italian, it will be some time before it comes out on-demand – so to the book I went.

Eventually, I turned everything off and curled up to a better-than-expected sleep.  I love trains (particularly steam trains, but I didn’t see any that went between Vienna and Rome so…) and I find something soothing in the sound and rocking…

 

That is, until 1:20AM when the train skidded (literally) to a halt, throwing me into the wall (thankfully I wasn’t facing the other direction or I would have ended up on the ground) and my bags skidding across the floor!

Almost immediately everything went silent – no motors, no sound of air conditioner…  Nothing.

I thought we might have hit a cow or something and as I opened the blind, was expecting to see black nothingness on the other side.

Instead, I saw what looked like some type of maintenance stop.

We were there for about 15 minutes before the motors and air conditioner etc restarted – and then another 5 minutes or so before we again started off…

No idea what happened, but we ended up arriving in Roma 20 minutes late so me thinks this was not a scheduled stop…

Morning breaks and I see out of my window scenes stereotypical of Italy…

…and then – breakfast in bed!

About forty minutes later, we arrive in Rome…

…oh, and I don’t know if you can make them out, but there are beautiful vines all over the building in the background…

Now, this photo below is not what it seems…  It looks like the cars are waiting for that man to cross the road.  HARDLY!!!  Crossing the road here is like playing Frogger!  It just so happens, both vehicles were stopped to let people in/out/whatever…

…and yes, they are automatic weapons they are carrying…

My limo driver and I had a little difficulty finding each other – especially as he spoke very little English and I have yet to get a handle on Italian – but we eventually connected and then off we set for Ostia…

…driving through Rome, there are nuns everywhere!

Founded during ‘my time’ (LOL!), Ostia was established in 1884 next to the remains of Ostia Antica – the original port city of ancient Rome.

This, below, is a shot of where my apartment is – right in the heart of everything and literally 100 meters or so from the sea…

This is the view from the front door of my building – and I feel the bar next door will become one of my favourite spots… second only to my balcony here in the penthouse where I look forward to curling up for hours and writing…

Below is said balcony – currently devoid of furniture as there was a big storm recently so the owner put everything out of harm’s way – that is, after one of the tables literally blew off the roof!

View from my balcony…  It’s not massive, but I like it.

The bathroom has a spa-type feel…

Downstairs, literally around the corner is the local butcher…

This is a shot of the next-door bar from around the corner…

Turns out Saturday is marketS day – that is market plural…  You turn a corner – there is another market.  You walk a few hundred yards – another market!

From what I have seen thus far, Ostia is overall not what I would call a pretty place – it wears its challenges, grime, and litter very openly… but on the other hand, it is extremely vibrant – and there are pockets that are stunningly beautiful.

This is the market to which I am headed next Saturday to do my weekly vegetable shopping!  …and I couldn’t find anywhere near where I was in Vienna that had natural organic massage oil…  Hey presto!  …and my first transaction conducted entirely in Italian (as the stall holders did not speak a word of English).

Now, you might think this Mercedes is driving through the intersection – yes?  No – he is parked.

This little white zot is turning left, yes?  No – he is parked as well.

Perhaps the driver of this yellow thing is sitting there waiting for someone?  No – they are parked just like the ones further up the street.

…and yet another optical illusion that people give way at crossings…  The cars closest to me – parked.  The cars furthest away – parked.  The white on in the middle?  Stopped to let someone out.

…and finally, a lovely restaurant for lunch (even if they do have very uppity staff and are over-priced)… but since they are so close to home and so beautiful, I will probably be back…

Not sure what I ordered (LOL) but I know it was fish (that much I could translate) and it tasted like a cross between tuna and pork – with the consistency of swordfish.  It was delicious – or make that, delizioso!

…and now I am safely back in casa mia…

Wishing you a truly glorious weekend, my Friends!

~ Bella