Thursday, 8 August 2013

To Rome with Love

Last night was our final evening in Naples, and we dined in the Pizzeria near our hotel.  In the same Pizzeria, the night before, I'd had swordfish, and really enjoyed it.  But I'll never forget sitting in the Pizzeria last night because a bunch of Japanese diners at another table broke into song at least three times.  One of them surely is a tenor, his voice superb.  Every time he sang either Santa Lucia or O Sole Mio, he received rapturous applause from the other tables and the waiters.  He didn't seem to mind being an exhibitionist.

We have now left Naples, and don't intend to return.  We're not disappointed.  We know that if you go on any long journey, you will find places you don't like.  This is not the longest overland journey I've ever taken.  I travelled across Africa in 1984, on an "organised" overland expedition.  We left London in early December 1983, travelled through France and Italy, and entered North Africa just before Christmas.  By early February, we had crossed the Sahara, arriving on the West African coast around early March.  By mid-April, we were in the middle of the continent.  We arrived in Nairobi on 16 May, hitting the Indian Ocean at the end of that month.  On 1 June, the "organised" tour over, I left Nairobi, and headed south as fast as possible, arriving in Johannesburg on 12 June, and Cape Town at end June.   A few weeks later, I flew back to London.  On that journey, there were places we liked and others we did not.  Kenya was good, so was Tamanrasset in the Sahara.  Bouali Falls and Victoria Falls were good.  Lagos, Nigeria's then capital, was disgusting.  The West African coast was bad for thieves.  And occasionally, we got sick.  So, on any long journey, you take the good with the bad.  

We are currently on the train bound for Rome.  They say all roads lead to Rome.  We're looking forward to it.  On this journey, I've thought a lot about Europe's past.  For so many centuries, all of the Italian Peninsula and so much of Europe was under the control of that great ancient power, Rome.  Then, in later centuries, Europe, and Italy, underwent tremendous political fragmentation, resembling a mosaic of independent states.  In Italy, new states rose and fell.  At last, in the 19th century, there occurred the unification of Italy.  But not all of the Italian Peninsula is unified.  On this Peninsula today, there are three separate, independent sovereign states.  One is Italy.  Another is San Marino.  And the third is Vatican City, the smallest country in the world.  I've not been there before.  It will be my 44th country I've ever visited.

Just arrived in Rome.  Very hot.  We're outside the walls of the Vatican.

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