A New Rome…..

…at least for me, the first day I was able to take advantage of a personal guide to help me find the sights that I really wanted to see on this trip. And now that I’ve had two days, that opinion has been reinforced.

Although I originally had contacted Flaminia Chapman as a personal guide, mainly because of her common roots from Texas, her newborn infant came down with a fever. Instead, I got her sister Giulia, and frankly I can’t believe that Flaminia herself would have surpassed Giulia as a guide.

As most of you can probably attest, meeting someone whose passion for Rome and its history runs as deeply as yours is always a welcome surprise. And being brutally frank, my one concern was that I would have a guide whose knowledge of the history behind the various sites was skimpier than mine.

I had no cause to worry; not only was Giulia extremely immersed in her Roman history, she has the same abiding passion for Rome and all it stands for. I am not ashamed to say that I learned a LOT today, seemingly small things in many ways, but substantial in their ability to allow me to form a better, more deeply enhanced picture of Rome than I would have had on my own.

Or, it must be said, with any other guide.

Not only that, she is EXTREMELY easy on the eye; alas, she is married with two children, not to mention that she’s four years younger than my daughter, so even if she were single, I would be footing a seriously steep therapy bill on behalf of my progeny! (Even as I type this my kid is throwing up in her mouth)

But better than that, she speaks fluent Italian (naturally), but when speaking English uses “y’all”, which automatically scores a lot of points in my book.

Besides that, having a car at one’s beck and call, then to be able to come sweeping by the hoi polloi because you not only have reservations, you have access to spots that are normally closed to the masses, well let’s just say I know how I’m going to be rolling in Rome from here on out!

Now, I know many of you are thinking, “That has to be expensive!” And it is, make no mistake about that. At least, I’m pretty sure, since I haven’t seen a bill.

But it’s because of you readers, who have been so generous and supportive, that I am able to do this, not only spend a month in Rome, but to obtain the services of a guide the quality of Giulia (and I have no doubt her sister is just as able). But it’s not all fun and games; okay, it’s a LOT of fun and games, but only because I am such a Romano-geek that I literally cannot get enough of…any of it.

During the portion of time we were being driven around, while our conversation flowed easily (meaning she listened to me blab with great patience), she would stop to point out one sight after another, but more than that, she knew the little things that I think make history so interesting.

And her depth of knowledge is such that I never thought, “Uh-oh. I know more than she does.” Yet at the same time, those few tidbits that I knew, usually about the Legions, that she had never heard before it was clear to see that she loved learning new things about Rome as much as I do.

And with her help, I have been able to reach a deeper understanding and appreciation of how intertwined the people of Rome are with their history and culture. But it’s at such a deep, unconscious level that to outsiders it comes across as indifference. What I’ve seen is that it’s not; it’s just such a part of who they are that they aren’t really conscious that we outsiders aren’t seeing anything other than the stereotypes we all bring to Rome with us.

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that being in the company of a native like Giulia opens doors and smooths the way an enormous amount. Which, I would argue, is why that, if pushed to choose between a slightly better hotel and eating at better restaurants, or using that money on a REPUTABLE guide like Giulia, I would strongly urge you to do the latter.

Besides which, in the two lunches we’ve shared, I’ve had the single best two meals of my time in Rome…in total. (Although the truffle pasta I had last year was pretty damn good.)

There is a passion for Rome in every one of you who will read my blog; for some it’s buried more deeply, for others it matches mine. But as I said in a previous blog, the fact is that all roads DO lead here.

And once you’re here, you owe it to yourself to experience to its fullest. I know I sound like an ad for guides, but my eyes have been opened to the difference they can bring to a trip. Whereas before I have always been a “I want to explore on my own”, and like to go my own way, I’ve been able to access such a different level that I won’t be going without a guide in the future.

That doesn’t mean one of those folks hanging out at the Colosseum; do your homework first. And while my qualifications were hardly scientific; when I saw that there was a guide who had been born in Texas, that was all I needed, I lucked out in a big way.

Except that I’ve been introduced to my new form of crack; porchetta.

Piglets on the Olympic Peninsula should be sleeping with one eye open. Just sayin’.


Ciao for now!


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