It's so worth learning.
For most of my life I have wanted to want to be fluent in French. I am, after all, Canadian. And I have a basic understanding of the french language from being required to learn it in school.
But my enthusiasm for it never took.
Then I met Italian. I spent much of my time in Rome struggling to say the multisyllabic words but relied largely on my hand gestures and Aine to communicate. She has a gift for picking up languages.
Aine and I went out for dinner with our friends Sandro and Marco. Sandro is Aine's English language student. I think he was so appreciative of what he learned from her that he may have wanted to return the favor. We learned some very colorful Italian that night.
As instructed, we waited on the steps of Piazza Trilussa.
Me waiting impatiently on the steps for the boys.
All of the sudden, Aine grabbed my arm and said, "There he is!" While I grabbed my things, Aine ran down to meet Sandro and, I don't know, maybe it's just me, but there was this lovely scene of the two of them seeing each other again.
Sandro then introduced us to his lovely friend Marco, who also spoke amazing English like Sandro. One of them said, "Andiamo a Trastevere!" Let's go to Trastevere!
The streets of Trastevere, a lively section of Rome, are crazy crowded by people. It has a festival feel but there is no festival. People are just celebrating life.
The boys led us to one of their favorite restaurants and asked if it would be okay if they made the culinary choices. They assured us that what they chose would please our palettes. "Do you trust us enough for us to evaluate what would please you?" Uh, yes. Most definitely. I think this is when the swooning started. Two guys to take charge of our happiness? How great is that?
The food was glorious. Antipasti, pasta and even fresh strawberries because "they are in season." When it came to inquiring about the bill, the boys informed us that they were the "owners of the restaurant" and the bill was sorted. A nice surprise.
Ah the Romans.
After dinner, we traipse all over Rome. Romans, it seems, do not sleep. At 2 a.m., everyone is still out and about, celebrating the fact that they are Romans in Rome. And we figured, when in Rome we would celebrate ourselves, too.
Sandro, Aine, me and Marco celebrating ourselves.
Once when crossing the street, a car honked at us and either Sandro or Marco yelled something like, "Dica ciao alla vostra sorella!" which translates to, "Say hi to your sister!" but in a way that you're telling someone off.
Some sayings are universal.
Then Marco quipped that they could actually be friends if the sister was cute.
Somewhere along the way, we found ourselves sipping mojitos at a bar draped with twinkle lights. They offered us the big group sized mojito... the kind with giant straws that look more like a clown head than a drink.
Sandro quipped about the drink, "Bello ma non ballo."
Aine and I stared and stopped dead, demanding, "What does that mean? What did you just say?"
"Bello ma non ballo. He is beautiful but he can't dance."
Ah the Romans.
Bello ma non ballo... sounds like a few dates I've had.
We walked all over Rome and talked about life. I told Marco that I had Nutella on my croissant every morning while in Rome. He said, "Janice, a spoonful of Nutella each day makes life more beautiful. It's an antidepressant." A great perspective.
Sandro and Aine walked ahead engrossed in each others company. He spoke of the house where he grew up, where he was born and about how he is a better cook than his mother. (But don't tell her.) When he spoke of the place where he and Marco were from, the south of Rome, his eyes sparkled. "You really must go there and see it. It really is beautiful."
If that's an invitation, we're in.
They led us all over the city until magically we arrived at Marco's car. We hopped in and he said, "Girls, prepare your eyes."
We drove around a corner and there it was...
The freakin' Colosseum
Everyone remembers the first time they spot the monument that defines a city, whether it be the Eiffel Tower, the CN Tower or the monumental monument that is the Colosseum.
Naturally, we stopped to take photos...
Us celebrating ourselves again.
We sat in front of the Colosseum and talked into the night. At one point, Aine said, "It's 3 a.m.! We have to go back to the hotel." Sandro replied, "Aine, it's not 3 a.m., it's 5 a.m."
We had no idea. Time flew by. Devastatingly, they drove us back to the hotel and bid us goodnight.
As we drifted off to sleep, completely smitten, Aine said, "This has been the most romantic night of my life and it wasn't even a date." Si, perfetto.