Category Archives: Travel

A Roman Epitaph, 2015

I’ve been to many museums, but back in 2015, I had a particularly moving experience while visiting the National Roman Museum (Palazzo Massimo alle Terme) near Rome’s Centrale train station. In the basement area was a wing devoted to Roman tombstones.

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On one particular tombstone, I found the following inscription:

For the souls departed. Alexander lived 3 years, 4 months, and 19 days. His father, Quintus Canuleius Alexander, and his mother Clarina, saw to the making of this tomb for their dear devoted and well-deserving son. He is buried here! I beg you, when you pass by to say, “May the earth not weigh upon your remains.”

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I found that entry to be fascinating and I stood there for a long time, thinking about this. During the Roman era, medicine was primitive and life expectancy quite low. Many children died while still at a young age so it was prudent to have as many offspring as possible. But the fact that these grieving parents made sure that their own child was remembered shook my own world view to the core. Here it was, even in a time of pragmatism, could the love of a parent to their child be truly appreciated. It struck me that the people during those times were really not much different than the parents of today. Despite the fact that children easily succumbed to all sorts of illness in that distant past, they still made an effort to remember him.

 

To me, this is a perfect example that no matter what age or what part of the world one lived in, the love of a parent to that of a child will always be a universal, human trait, one that is constant through the annals of time.

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Before I left that gallery, I made a silent prayer to 3-year old Alexander.

“May the earth not weigh upon your remains.”

Your parents did a wonderful job, for you have not been forgotten.

Pizza in Italy, 2015

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When you order a pizza, it’s usually the size of a dinner plate and you eat it with a knife and fork. Unless you get a pre-made pie on a per slice basis, most pizzas are made to order. The crust is thin, chewy and tossed by hand. By far the most popular flavor is the Margherita, a simple pie that uses nothing but cheese, tomatoes and a fresh sprig of basil. The cheese in particular is always fresh, so it has a very distinct flavor as opposed to buying franchised pizzas back home.  Pair it with some house wine (vino de la casa) or beer (called birra in Italian).

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National Etruscan Museum, Rome 2015

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This place was virtually empty when I visited it last year. Too bad though, because I think it’s quite simply the best museum in the city. It’s a little hard to get to, but it’s worth the trip.

40 massive rooms and so few visitors meant that I was pretty much by myself. There are also very lovely grounds within the museum where you can just sit down and rest in relative peace and quiet. Do not miss this!

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When In Italy…

Leave the gun, eat that cannoli!

I spent about a month in Italy last summer and I’d like to share some tips with you.

– If you’re planning to go during the summer and doing some sightseeing in the open I would highly suggest you bring sunglasses and a hat and perhaps even sunscreen. You can buy hats with local vendors but they all sell the same type which means if you wear it you’re pretty much identified as a tourist. I haven’t seen any locals wearing any kind of hat other than kids with baseball caps.

– Walking tours do a lot of… walking! So wear proper footwear if youre planning on doing that.

– Venice has two train stations; if you like to go to the station that leads directly into the city itself take the Venize Sta. Lucia station.

– Florence also has two major stations- if you want one that is in the heart of the city then take the Firenze SM Novella station.

– To get to places like Pompeii, Herculaneum and Sorrento by train you need to go to the central station in Naples then go down one level to the Circumvesuviana ticket office and buy a ticket to their train there.

– When buying bottled water in Italy they have two types: sparkling and standard. If you dont like fizzy water then always ask for “naturale”.

– There are water fountains all over Rome which have good clean water in which you can freely refill your water bottles.

– Bologna central station has multiple levels with some platform tracks numbered the same. A point of reference is that the slow moving trains occupy the top part of the station and the high speed train platforms are underground.

– If you buy a ticket at the station dont forget to validate them before you board. There are little green oval machines close to the platform for you to validate them. E-tickets with seat numbers do not need to be validated.

– Recently Italy enacted a tourist tax for people staying in hotels. They will be charged on a per day basis so be prepared to pay up.

– A number of museums offer English audio guides. You need to deposit an ID/credit card if you get them but I notice that many of them accept photocopies of passports so its a cheap way to get it.

That’s all I could think of right now so if you’re going there, have fun!