Well, my Kiwi mate has left after staying with me for 2.5 weeks. I think she was a bit shell-shocked really. So many colourful sights and sounds; historical ruins lying around everywhere; the Italian way of life, which is basically chaos. Not to mention the amazing patisseries jam packed full of scrumptious pastries.

We seemed to spend an inordinate amount of time in a certain patisserie, Bar Linari, just around the corner from my apartment in Testaccio. Or you’d find us hanging out in Zi Elena – another fantastic little cafe in Testaccio that serves up the BEST ciambella (basically, a large sugared doughnut). I am addicted to ciambella. Italian coffee. Gelato. Italy.

Where was I? Oh yeah. This was the first time really out of New Zealand for my Kiwi mate. She’s been to Australia sure but that’s NOTHING compared to ROMA. She’s never been to Europe. My best memory will be when she spotted the Colosseum. That was a jaw-dropping moment.

I didn’t want to show her this absolutely stunning structure by getting off the Metro at Colosseo and seeing it right in front of her. Almost smack in the face. I wanted us to approach the Colosseum via foot and see the Arch of Constantine first. Then realise that, just to the right, looming up towards the sky is the elliptical amphitheatre that is the Colosseum.

She was overwhelmed to tell you the truth. Just how I felt when I first saw the Colosseum. We both felt a little annoyed that hordes of tourists were hanging over the ledges on the middle and upper levels. I somehow feel that the Colosseum should be closed, off limits to all tourists. I wonder how much damage tourists are doing to this magnificent piece of history (not to mention what the pollution is doing).

I didn’t go inside the Colosseum last year nor have I been this year. I’m staying out. One person’s pathetic attempt to preserve history. I look at it from a distance and walk around it trying to ignore the noisy, jostling tourists.

Anyway. I enjoyed having her stay and now I’m alone again. But this time in three weeks, I’ll be back in New Zealand. The time has flown by fast but then again, it hasn’t. If that makes any sense! Because my mate is now winging her way back home, I am mentally starting to leave Rome. Already thinking of the plane ride back. Seeing Zeph, Zsa Zsa and the horses again. Not to mention El Hubs and my step-son, who arrived in NZ from France a week ago and will stay with us for nearly two months.

I’m preparing for the culture shock. Orderly, sedate, conservative Oxford NZ; chaotic, poetic, in-your-face Rome. The quietness of night and the soft mooing of cows in New Zealand; noisy Vespa scooter bikes in Italy. I’m sure after a few days back, I’ll be missing Rome.

Having a second cappuccino at Bar Linari.

Addicted to ciambella!

My step-son, Stephane, wearing some bizarre hat because it’s very cold in NZ right now.