This summer, it is my good fortune to accompany my colleague, the (extraordinary) poet Jennifer Maier, on Seattle Pacific University's study abroad trip to RomeRead More
After a layover in Rome's newly re-imagined Tiburtina--and what times these Romans have ahead of them! Finally, a station worthy of its approach!--my wife and I boarded the new train line, Italo Treno, for Naples. Since the service just launched this Summer, they're offering 20 euro fares to all the major cities they visit (adding Venice and Turin soon), and though my seat faced backwards, which meant I was curled up in the aisle facing front (motion sickness, see?), how nice it was to find oneself on a clean and modern train, to have waited for it in an air-conditioned lounge with free wi-fi before boarding, to have booked tieckets from a beautiful, simple website, and to have been aided by an army of young, smartly-dressed attendants.
The train ride from Roma Fuimincino Airport has been bad for decades, but it's gotten worse recently, and now ranks among the worst things to be experienced by the sensual animal. Everything grates: it's filthy as a port-a-john, there's plastic everywhere and graffiti on that; all alert systems are red since it feels both crowded and dangerous. What's more, the A/C is broken, and has been on all five of my trips to Rome, and, somehow, psychotically, they've bolted all the windows shut. The temperature inside hovers around 100 and one thinks she can imagine the smell, but is still surprised experiencing it. And it's slow. And takes you through the worst part of town. And it's expensive: between 8 and 25 euro depending on which line you get in and whether the man working the desk thinks you look like prey. And th ensigns directing you to the "station" are held up with tape. You get the idea. Half of the visitors' Roman dreams are dashed in sweaty Satanic reality before one even crosses the Flaminian gate.Read More