This is a retrospective account in diary form of a trip I took in 2013, based on memory and my notes from the time.
Thursday, 13 June 2013
Well it’s been a very long day. I arrived at St Pancras International this morning in good time, and went through the check-in and arrived in the departures lounge. I bought a coffee and croissant from Café Nero and settled down to wait for boarding to begin. Around this time, there was an announcement that due to strike action by French train drivers (groan…), there were delays and cancellations on all trains going to the south of France. You must be joking, right? Today of all days? Would it affect the overnight trains as well? What about the ones that went to Italy? Maybe the driver would be Italian and he wouldn’t be on strike?! Now I had no choice but to wait and see what would happen. Worst come to worst, I’d have to spend the night in Paris and try to get directly to Genoa the next day? Would I get a refund? Questions, questions.
Continued from Running to Rimini – Part 1
Needless to say, it was too late.
I sat down to take stock. I was exhausted and annoyed, and now faced the prospect of an expensive re-booking and possibly having to spend the night in Rome. What a mess. At this point, I decided to see what I could salvage from the situation. Heading to the Alitalia ticket office, I explained I’d missed my flight and managed to rebook a new one to Rimini–for 8am the next morning. I actually felt quite pleased afterwards since I’d managed to do the whole thing entirely in Italian, without having to resort to English. A minor victory, doing the ‘firefighting’ in italiano!
I‘ve told this little story often over the last couple of years and always find it fun to think about how easily these things happen and how much worse they could get! Travelling is always a bit of an experience and the chance for things going awry never entirely goes away…
As I began visiting different Italian cities, I noticed that there are a few street and piazza names that seem to crop up again and again. Via/Piazza Garibaldi. Via/Piazza Cavour, Via Mazzini, Via XX Settembre. These are all related to the historical period referred to as the Risorgimento, or ‘resurgence’, during which the various states of the Italian peninsula, many of which were under foreign control, were united into the Italian Kingdom. I will do future posts on different aspects of the Risorgimento and also try to understand why it happened. But that’s for another day.
Over the last few years, on most weekday mornings and evenings, I have walked along London Bridge railway and underground station in Central London, watching the ongoing building work change the London skyline and the feel of the very streets themselves. It’s actually hard to recall what lay before on the spot of the now towering Shard–the tallest building in Western Europe. In London, and indeed in many UK cities, the construction of new buildings has embraced bold, sometimes controversial architectural styles. In this respect, there have been both success and failures, as in any enterprise.
In English, we typically use the word ‘Romans’ to refer to the inhabitants of the ancient city of Rome and the citizens of the Roman Empire. It feels a little strange to use the word to refer to the modern-day inhabitants of the Italian capital. We’d probably say something on the lines of “He’s from Rome,” or “It’s a style seen in Rome.”