My second day in Rome was far more relaxed than my first, although I was in for a rather nasty shock while I was in the park outside of the Villa Borghese.
My plan for the day was really just to chill, bask in the sun, read, meander, you know, the usual relaxing vacation type stuff. I was exhausted from the day before and didn’t have the energy for much anyways. I’d read the park by the Villa Borghese was ginormous and pretty so it seemed like a pretty good place for my day of relaxation. I slowly made my way over there, enjoying the pleasant weather, listening to the flurry of church bells and people speaking Italian all around me. As I approached the park, the air smelled like the most wonderful floral concoction. It was pure delight.
After exploring the park a little, I found a bench to sit at and pulled out my book. I had been reading for some time when I noticed movement out of the corner of my eye. I looked up and spotted a middle-aged man hovering across the way, slightly backed into the bushes. At first I thought he was taking a leak, which is, you know, urgh, but fine, whatever, if you gotta go, you gotta go, although I’d appreciate if you went a little further away from me. Then I realised that was not what he was doing, oh no, that was not what he was doing at all. To my utter horror, I realised that he was in fact jerking off rather relentlessly and staring straight at me. Nope, count me out. I was absolutely mortified, so I quickly gathered my things and scampered away as fast as I could, gagging the whole way.
I went to find somewhere less disgusting to sit. I should have walked further.
In my new spot I was once more minding my own business reading, when again I notice movement out of the corner of my eye. Refusing to look up, I could tell someone was circling around me. When he continued to circle me, I looked up wearily. This time the man (he may have been the same guy, although I’m not sure) pointed at his crouch and jerked his head towards me, winking and making sucking noises with his mouth. NOPE, BYE. I skittered away once again, going much, much, MUCH further this time.
I had still not given up on my quiet, pleasant time in the park, refusing to let a couple of creeps ruin it for me. I found a lovely little lake that had a stone archway standing in the middle of it. There were rowboats for rent and a couple of people were out rowing on the still water. I stayed there for a while, changing spots occasionally to switch between shade and sun and to get a different vantage point. This was exactly what I had wanted.
One thing about Rome that I was not a huge fan of was the flower guys. I had seen them in other cities as well, Paris particularly, but none were as aggressive as the ones in Rome. They walk around the tourist areas with a bouquet of roses and will come up to you and give you a flower. When you try to give it back, they refuse and insist you have to now pay them for the flower. I spent ages when I first arrived arguing with flower guys that I didn’t want their flowers, had never wanted their flowers, I wasn’t going to pay for something I didn’t want so take it back already because I didn’t ask for this, now please just leave me alone. Exhausting. Annoying.
A flower guy approached me in the park. When he tried to give me a rose, telling me what a beautiful flower I was to match (pfft), I kept my hands and eyes on my book and said nicely, but forcefully, “No thank you,” and then I got up and walked away, still reading my book. To my disbelief, that actually worked and he didn’t follow me or shove his flowers in my face. Haha, score one for me!
I began to slowly make my way out of the park, having been there for a few hours by then and wanting a change of scenary. I stopped just above the Piazza del Popolo to admire the view then made my way down into the Piazza itself. I sat on a bench and was soon approached by an Italian man. I was pretty fed up by then with people bothering me, no matter what their intentions might be, having been accosted on my walk to the Piazza by a man on a Segway wanting to give me a ride and another trying to do the same thing as the flower guys but with string bracelets. I just wanted to read and listen to my music in peace! This particular man was now interrupting my Disney montage. Uncool. Although I appreciated that he didn’t pull his privates out at me. Thanks buddy. He invited me to have coffee with him but I declined, really just wanting to be on my own (ironic, considering I had spent much of the day before wishing I wasn’t on my own). He eventually took the hint that I wasn’t interested and he left me in peace. Sincere thanks for that.
I wandered over to the Piazza Navona and got some gelato. Yum yum. It almost made up for the many unwelcome interruptions of the day. Almost.
For dinner I went back to the Campo de Fiori, going to a different restaurant, where I ordered my first Italian pizza. It was quite tasty but it was huge and I couldn’t finish all of it, so they packed it up for me and I headed back to my hostel, carrying a ridiculously oversized pizza box with me. The whole way back, whenever people saw the box they went, “Oooo pizza”, which made me laugh really hard, because this was Rome, there’s pizza literally everywhere guys.
And that was about it for my Roman adventures, it was time for me to head off to Venice!
Signing off, travel bugs – mwah!