November 6, 2017. Florence, Italy.
I took a bus out of Rome earlier today, bidding a fond farewell to everyone from the Melting Pot hostel, which is easily the best hostel I’ve stayed in so far. I owe the proprietor a review, although I’m not sure in what format yet.
My present hostel is an enormous multi-story affair in the middle of Florence, and for context, this is my present work space, chosen because it’s the only place no one’s screaming:
It would be ironic, if I still believed in irony.
I finally made my way to the Coliseum after learning that the most effective way to repel grifters is with sudden, public psychological abuse. This convenient method will also work in a battery of other social situations, pretty much whenever.
A lanky dude was trying to appeal to my nonexistent better judgment, but his fatal misstep was implying I’m not a pretentious douchebag.
“You can wait in the line and go in yourself,” he offered, a generous god, “But you’ll just be walkin’ around the coliseum lookin’ at white rocks. You come with me, 10 euros, I’ll get you a trained English guide, he’ll tell you about the gladiators, Romulus and Remus, the executions… everything.”
“Uh huh,” I said. “You get a lot of people at the coliseum, don’t know what gladiators were?”
While he was pondering that one, I told him, “I think I’ll be good. Ciao.”
They kept slithering up and insisting the line was 3 and a half hour wait. I announced, “Sounds sort of like bullshit to me. It’s half done and I’ve been here 10 minutes. This look like 3 and a half hours to anybody else?” They haggled it down to 3 hours, insistent it would take 3 hours because one of the metal detectors was broken.
“You’d think they could afford to get them fixed, considering how much your group tickets cost.”
Off he went. My segment of the line was left in relative peace until a dude who looked remarkably like Dogg the Bounty Hunter greased his way up to me and touched my shoulder, imploring me to “Just buy the ticket and skip the line.”
“I’m committed now,” I told him, and everyone in a 30 foot radius. “I’m in it to win it. I’ll be honest with you, I don’t even want to see the Coliseum. I just like standing in lines. It lets me feel like I’m part of something.”
Once the parasites were gone, I whiled away the remainder of the time in line (about 20 more minutes) chatting with an Asian couple about their previous jaunts around Europe.
As promised, the rocks were predominantly white. It was filthy with humans, all of them photographing themselves at the ruins where 500,000 people were killed — oh look, a fact I knew without a certified English tour guide. I took one myself on the way out, but only to fit in. Being accepted is important to me.
I contemplated the Roman forum, but a trio of British girls assured me that the line that wrapped all the way around the block was the line for people who already had their tickets. Nah. I got the idea.
My tour of Rome would need to be expedited, since I was due for Florence tomorrow and then Athens on the 8th. I booked ass from there to the Pantheon, which, it turns out, is different from the Parthenon, and is filled with obscure Catholic statues, rather than things I care about.
Still, it was very big.
I swung up the Campidoglio, a gorgeous hilltop plaza designed by my boy Leo da Vinci, and wound up in the Capitoline Museums. One was dedicated to how great it was to be a Roman treasurer or whatever, but the other was packed to brimming with stolen Greek statuary! Now we’re talking. I spent some time with the severed heads of a few of my idols:
Little known fact: Though Socrates wrote no philosophical written records, he was the author of the Operation Ivy classic “Knowledge”.
“Good people need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around the law.” – Plato
Like the law of no pictures in the museum?
“We suffer more often in imagination than in reality.” -Seneca
Christ, and he posed for this. Imagine how often he must’ve imagined suffering.
“Don’t explain your philosophy. Embody it.” -Epictetus
Only slightly more less stoic now that he’s rendered in stone.
He doesn’t get a quote. He doesn’t deserve one. I’m too mad that his beard is a goddamn triangle.
From there, I ate a pizza with a letter off (pieza? pienza? pinza?), lauded as “The most ancient food in Rome”. It was, in fact, normal pizza, only oval. I wolfed it down and scurried up to the Vatican. I had a score to settle with God.
To be continued.