This week marked the midpoint of my SLA, and I have to say I have the same feeling of dread about leaving Rome as I did last year at this time.
Besides beginning the second half of the semester, not much went on during the week. I did, however, make it to Nemi on Saturday! Getting there and and back from Rome was pure hell. I had taken the train from Rome’s central train station to Albano Laziale, the place where I should have changed busses last weekend. Upon arriving in Albano, I was greeted with closed shops and restaurants due to the month of vacation that Italians take in August, the feria d’agosto. I walked around the city for about 15 minutes and finally found an open bar to ask about the regional bus. When I entered, there were three men inside. I asked the barista where I could catch the bus, and then followed his directions to the bus stop outside. After about 5 minutes of waiting, someone drove up and waved to me to go into the car. I shook my head and he drove away. Five minutes later, he returned and asked if I was the girl from the bar trying to get to Nemi. I responded that I was, and he told me he was heading in that direction, so he would take me there.
Skeptical as I was, no busses had been passing and the whole town seemed dead, so I got in. I ended up meeting Paolo, who was heading nearby Nemi to pick up a set of keys from his wife. He reassured me that I shouldn’t be skeptical, and that it was an off-day for the busses, so who knew if it would even pass. He dropped me off about 10 minutes later in Nemi. Once I got out and saw the cute, strawberry decked town, I shook of the stress of getting there and decided to walk around. The town, situated on a hill overlooking small Lake Nemi, was very local. I stopped first in a bar to have a lemon cake with fragoline, the sacred fruit that had driven me there in the first place. I sat outside and ate my cake in front of an unforgettable view of the lake.
Having previously researched some of the town attractions, I set out to find the remains of an ancient temple. After exiting the town gate, I found a panorama. I walked five minutes down and found a hiking trail. Using trusty google maps, I descended into the trail. Thirty or so minutes later, without a water bottle and facing the stifling heat, I felt so dehydrated. I was minutes away from the temple, and decided I should go anyway because there would probably be a concession stand there. I found a gate with an inscription of the Temple of Diana, and walked through. At the end of the drive, I found what seemed to look like a park shelter. Outside, there was a woman playing with a dog, and when I came back out, she asked me what was wrong. I explained to her that I was looking for the temple remains. She informed me that I was on private property–the temple was in the other direction–and that it was actually closed. Disappointed and thirsty, I thanked her and turned back toward the hiking trail that would take me back to the town center.
Uphill was worse, and the angle of the sun made it impossible for me to get back up without taking multiple breaks. By the time I reached the center and the drinking fountain in the piazza, I felt sick. I took a long drink of water and sat down at the bench. After sitting there for about 20 minutes, I decided I should figure out a way to get back into Rome. I opened up a taxi app that I had and requested a taxi for the next half hour. After rehydrating and learning that the taxis could only be requested to leave from Rome when the drivers didn’t show up, I decided I needed to find a way to get back to Albano Laziale to get a train back to Rome.
Google maps had a pretty clear walking route. After I bought a bottle of water and two containers of fragoline, I began the two hour walk back to Albano. In the end, I made it back to Albano and was able to catch a train back to Rome a half hour later (ironically, on the walk back, three regional busses passed by me when I wasn’t at a bus stop). Thankful to be home, I marveled at how strange the day had been and concluded that the universe really hadn’t wanted me to get to Nemi, and since I had arrived (against the universe’s wishes), it wasn’t going to be an easy trip. In the end, I can say that I got some nice photos and a lesson. If it’s too difficult to arrive, better to choose another destination! My fragoline ended up being smashed up by the time I reached my apartment, so I just made jam with them.