Kinda. The weekend started for me on Friday. Earlier in the week I was invited to meet our buddy from Soriano nel Camino (Censi) for some mountain biking in Tuscany. He and some friends from the areas surrounding Fagetta were headed to Monte Amiata. Monte Amiata is the largest volcanic dome in this particular volcanic complex near Lake Bolsena. Where there are hills, domes, mountains, rocks, dirt, ski areas and chairlifts....there is mountain biking.
For the morning we rode a nice, slow, double chair to the top and gang rode the two trails the ski area had to offer. Then hired a shuttle after lunch to finish up the day on the local enduro (trails requiring some uphill pedaling) trails. The downhill trails under the chair were enjoyable but the enduro trails surrounding the area were a blast. As we started the second half of the day we had some rain to dampen the trails, which was welcome, but as the rain continued the riding became quite slick. The first couple of shuttle runs were a full on, good time. Huge rock gardens with plenty of variety in the trails to keep it interesting. The last couple of runs the rain forced me to tone it down a bit and keep it safe.
All the guys I met couldn't have been more welcoming. A couple spoke English, most didn't. But me made it work with the international language of....mountain biking. Even on the long ride home with Sam and his son Simone (who is a ripper!!!) we laughed a lot together as I tried to use my weak ass Italian on them. I think they knew about as much English as I know Italian, so we were even.
Saturday morning was spent shopping for some housewares to compliment the white walls of the apartment. Slowly, the apartment is starting to feel more comfortable and like it's our own space. We also realized that floor lamps are way to expensive in Italy. Back to IKEA.
Saturday evening we got an invite to see the home opener for one of the cities soccer clubs. AS Roma. Our friend and Heidi's colleague, Bob, had some VIP tickets which put us in the hospitality suite and seats four rows off the pitch. The two head trainers for the club have children at AOSR. Since their families are still away for the summer they offered Bob the tix for the game and we were included. Pretty sweet. Afterwards we had the pleasure of meeting some of the players and staff. Even one of the goal scorers for the night. All super modest and nice.
Saturday night ended with a great dinner in Ponte Milvio at the Met with Ed and Darcy. They're both great guys who are easy to chat with and make great company. Dinner was pretty classic Italy. Started after nine, lasted over two hours, very social (meeting more players), and delicious. Thanks Bob, Ed and Darcy!
Sunday we wanted to take an Urban Assault on our bikes into the historical center of Rome to check out a few sites. We had spent some time in the city center but hadn't bothered with going to any sites thinking we'd have plenty of time after the summer tourist season was over. Also, in August most Romans leave the city for the entire month to escape the heat. That leaves the streets a bit safer for riding a bike. And allows you to get a feeling for where certain areas are within the city more casually and without the stress of city driving.
We were very happy we decided to ride our bikes for our tour around the city. The streets aren't well maintained and the streets with cobblestones are even more of a chore. Perfect for a mountain bike. The streets in the historical areas are closed to cars during certain times of the day so we also had the roads to ourselves. It was perfect. We rode right up to very site, no big deal.
The first stop was the Colosseum via the Roman forum. You really start to feel the history and age of this city when you get into these historical areas. Everything is old, not just old, ancient. Onto Trevi Fountain, another beautifully carved fountain that is still fed from one of the original aqueducts into the city. We took a refreshing drink of water and rode off for the the Pantheon. I've wanted to see the Pantheon and was surprised to see that we had been passing it almost every time we've come into the city without noticing. Proving that around every corner of this city there is another hidden treasure that will take you back a couple thousand years.
Rome is slowly starting to feel like a home to us. This weekend was a great way to casually get acquainted with the city and find what more she has to offer. Good or bad. Our "wins" seem to happen more often lately but the "losses" are still deflating. As soon as we feel like we've on the right track we get knocked back into reality. For instance. We had lunch on Sunday at one of our favorite restaurants in Campo de Fiori (been there twice) and found out the hard way that you should ask the price of the fresh fish special before ordering. Have you ever ordered market priced fish or lobster for lunch? Of course not, it's expensive. Live and learn.