A Roman Holiday: Without Gregory Peck.

Italy: The only place in the world where you can sit on the street at 8:30am with a bottle of wine in each Street Drinkinghand…  and nobody thinks you’re homeless.

Nobody throws you the judgmental looks you receive on the Victoria Line when you do the same. Nobody reports you to alcoholics anonymous… Nobody even notices. Largely thanks to the high-incidence of others indulging in an early morning bottle of wine too. This? Will always make Italy one of my favourites.

And if that doesn’t do it? Aperitivo does!

Basically – Italians tend to not eat dinner until late in the evening, usually around 8 o’clock. That’s a long old wait for your evening sustenance, so around 6pm they crack out a bit of Aperitivo. Basically? Wine and crisps. “It’s 6 o’clock! It’s time for wine and crisps!” Imagine my delight.  Feelings of “I AM MOVING TO ITALY! RIGHT NOW,”  accosted me like Caesar took Gaul, when sat in a bar in Venice and free crisps started being circulated.

“Oh, they do this everyday,” sighed my friend Sam who’d been living in Italy for 6 months and had become world-wearied by the Italians and their endless excuses to eat and consume alcohol. Me? I’ll never get tired of it. Much respect to the country who celebrate my standard diet of alcohol and crisps, bread and salt; the nation where you can sit in public in the morning swigging from a bottle of Sparkling Asti, and nobody bats an eyelid. Mi piace Italia! We will be together one day, this is certain!

Colosseum I’ve always had a bit of an Italian obsession. From the age of 7 I would  drag my mother to Bath every 6 months to stare at The Roman ruins, then make the poor, tortured woman stop off in Caerleon for a gaze at the amphitheatre on our way home… IMAGINE HOW EXCITED I WAS ABOUT VISITING ROME. 

After a morning at The Colosseum I was ready to stick on some sandals and burn some Christians. CaligulaIt’s much larger and better preserved than I thought it would be – Though they disappointingly outlawed Gladiator fighting in the 5th century. Stupid! Thousands I would pay to watch handsome, athletic men dual-to-the-death. But enough of my Cailgulan nature.

If you fancy your own fight, with some foreign school children? – Then the Trevi Fountain will meet ALL your brutal needs. You can spend a full ten minutes kicking them off the steps or whacking them out of your way before you will find a decent location for a photo with the sculpture.

Trevi FountainCity planning was clearly not top of Nicola Salvi’s agenda when he designed the gargantuan aquatic structure  – he had no idea that in 400 years time there would be 10,000 French kids violently trying to take a selfie all at once… so he hoisted his masterpiece up in a tiny Italian piazza. Twenty-first-century conclusion?  Getting any kind of proof that you were at the Trevi fountain calls for dire Machiavellian means or Borgia battle tactics (I’d recommend nun-chucks or war-heads).

You must go to the Vatican. Not because it’s beautiful or because Michelangelo painted its ceiling or anything. No. Just to say you’ve been there.  The VaticanIt’s the only country in the world without a birthrate, the singular nation inhabited exclusively by males… And it only recently raised its age of consent from 12 to 18. What’s not to fascinate!?

On leaving you will forever-more want an ostentatious fresco stained on every flat-surface in your house. And no, that’s not a euphemism.

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