II. You haven't really seen the Italian capital until you've experienced it from the back of a motorcycle. During the third ride of my first day -- courtesy of the Italian friend of a British expat with whom I struck up a conversation about Italian people (whom he hates because, as he sees it, they're shallow) -- I noticed two things: First, safety first in Rome. In all the months I spent riding on the back of motorbikes in Thailand, nobody ever offered me a helmet (although Adam in Bali did), which is why I was surprised when my driver insisted that I put on his spare one. Also, Rome is even more beautiful and the monuments and statues even more breathtaking at night when you are speeding through it and past them al fresco at 35 kmh, or however fast that thing was going. I've got to remember to retrace the path from the Colosseo to Arco di Travertino at 2am before I leave.
IV. Wow, Italians and Italy really seem to have a bad reputation among the non-Italians who live here. Before the Italians-bashing Brit declares the Portuguese in Lisbon infinitely superior, the Pakistani man who works behind the counter at Chicken Hut, where I had my first Roman meal (chicken biryani) launches into a rant against Italy, which he calls the worst country on earth (though he has no answer when I ask him why he'd choose to live in such a vile place), and then proceeds to name the best ones: The U.S., Canada, England, all, incidentally, English-speaking.
VI. I've already had the best slice of pizza of my life (better than anything I ever devoured on or near St. Mark's Place in New York City), though I don't believe I'll ever again be able to find the place where I had it. I'm starting to worry that when I book my flight from Rome to Tel Aviv for one month from now, I'll have to reserve two seats instead of one. Time to find a fierce local park to go running around!