Night time. Rome. Lugging my cumbersome home upon my back, I set out to find my hostel. However, the closer I get, the further away I seem to travel from the respectable part of town. Cue Fiesta Terrace Hostel (more Festy than Fiesta). My host emerges from the dark, like something out of the movie, Delicatessen.
Fat, sweaty, his gut protruding from beneath his once… white (?) t-shirt. “Ah, bella! Yes, come in!” He comes further into the light, to show dark circles under his sluggish eyes and makes to link arms with me (abort! abort!) before leading me to the office of further darkness.
“Just one night, not three.” I say.
“One night? You book for three, yes?”
“Yes, sorry. Change of plans.” (In the space of the last five seconds).
Lose the deposit (but better that). My bunk bed lists dangerously to the right (not unlike the Titanic right before all hell broke loose) and I know – no way I’ll see the dawn sleeping on that puppy. Oh Sweaty One pulls the mattress to the floor, and crams it between the rest of the beds, saying, “This is good, no?”
That night, I slumbered next to a Brazilian with braces, who grinned a lot but couldn’t understand a word I said.
Hotel Postiano. Greeted by a jolly, well dressed man sitting behind a (well-lit) desk, I can’t believe my luck. I fall upon him, as if coming to a mirage in the middle of the desert.
“You are very friendly,” he says, “you smile all the time.” Insert usual chatting here. “How many siblings do you have?”
“Four brothers, two sisters” I say. (Might as well throw in the lot, go for the gold).
“Oh my goodness!” He raises his hand, which stays suspended in the air until I obligingly give him a high-five, and starts laughing. “In my country, we say, ‘Your father is a good player, and your mother is a good goal keeper.” The hostel is clean, fresh and as close to 5th Ave as I’m likely to get. The Gods have smiled upon me.
I wander through the ruins, trying to find the kick ass jewellery shop of my prior visit.
“Excuse, do you have the time?”
“Hello, I am Fabio, and I come from Florence. But I come to Rome to study architectural ruins for my university.” (I aint making this up!) “I take you to grass, we sit, and I show you history of Rome, yes? You come with me, on my motor bike, yes?”
Ah yes, here before me stands an Italian man with sweet, big brown eyes called Fabio and I think, what the hell. I always say no. Let’s give this ‘yes’ malarkey a shot.
“Okay.” I say.
“You come on my scooter, yes? We drive around corner to park, and we sit. Yes? I have my sister’s helmet. You ride with me, yes?”
“Okaaay.” (HOLY SHIT!!!!!)
I hop on the back of his (sister’s) motorbike, grabbing on for dear life as he nonchalantly enters mad traffic, all the while looking over his shoulder at me, chatting away, not looking at the road. The traffic stops in front of him, but he doesn’t. I let out a whimper here, a whimper there. Secretly, I was lovin’ it, but I seriously thought, ‘it could all end here’.
“It’s okay, I see. I know.” He says, weaving in and out. He parks near a landmark, where the Roman’s used to race chariots. We sit, and he starts to explain the history of Rome.
“I have idea. I go and get something to drink, and we sit and toast to this scenery, yes? It will be romantic. Very nice, yes?” Sure, I say. He turns to go, but then as an afterthought says, “My friends at university, when we drink, we give each other money to pay. Yes?” Is that the jingling of alarm bells in the distance? He leaves, comes back with champagne. He weaves a tale of shop attendants and closing shops, and then he hits me for the cash. “25 each, yes?” I nearly fall off my patch of grass. “50 in total?” I say, incredulous. (Abort! Abort!)
Yes folks, we have a scammer. I repeat, we have a scammer. Baby brown eyes named Fabio tried to liberate me of my cash. How could this happen? Anyone with the name of Fabio is immediately trustworthy, surely! But this is where romance ends and real life begins people. Take notes, I’ll wait while you sharpen your pencil.
Happily I say, “I only have 8 Euro on me.” He starts to get angry, and suggests going to a bank. Definitely bells, but I think it’s the death toll. “It is not millions, no? You didn’t tell me this when I went to get drink, no? This is not honest of you.”
Aaah, the irony.
So much for the history of Rome.