We walked from piaza to piaza wearing the ponchos we had ever so "Britishly" haggled for earlier that day. To the onlooker, we must have looked reminiscent of the fairies from Sleeping Beauty with the pointed hoods and a cape that failed to cover the knees. Flattering. As the clouds above began to ring out with water, we sought shelter from the nearest private drive we could find. We were joined by a lady who stood, hand-on-hip looking on disapprovingly. Soaked through with sweat and rain - we all watched on as mother nature bragged before us.
We dined alfresco that night. Well fed; we braved the bustling crowds who were fighting to toss their precious coins into the shallow waters of the Trevi Fountain. Apparently it gives you good fortune. As we cautiously slalomed our way into a respectable position to take a very average selfie to update our instagram followers of our current whereabouts, we were stopped in our tracks. A confident and large fellow with a camera around his neck introduced himself to me with a firm handshake before offering his compliments to Nix. "She very beautiful. You are very lucky man." His English was ropey but I nodded in agreement - I was extremely fortunate indeed. The man proceeded to signal a universal gesture to suggest he would take a picture of the two of us with my phone. I obliged, somewhat reluctantly but duly smiled with Nix by my side in our usual 'couple pose'. As the man returned the phone, he held up his finger up to suggest he wasn't finished. Startled in our tracks, we pondered. I wish we hadn't. He took the camera from his neck. Focussed the lens on us and clicked the shutter. The camera began to create a whirring noise and a picture was printing. I rolled my eyes. We'd been had. His once polite and complimentary tone changed in a matter of seconds. He stepped forward, imposing himself, before reaching out his hand for payment - "10 euro - good price for a beautiful couple". I looked at Nix - how had we fallen for this? Again.
Maybe I should have lobbed a penny in the fountain after all.
"Champagne?" - before we could even answer, the waiter was gone. He soon returned with two glasses. It was obviously a rhetorical question. "Do you think we have to pay for these? We didn't even say yes to him!", Nix's question was not rhetorical as she gazed my way for an answer. My knowledge of Italian dining is bordering on substandard as it is, so I really wasn't to know. "Probably not" I replied, as I tried to offer a hopeful alternative before taking another slurp of the bubbly. We'd been recommended to try Meridionale by a friend. We had strolled hand in hand through Rome's corridors to find it, tucked away in a corner. It's surroundings didn't flatter but upon entry we knew we'd found a gem. As we stood at the entrance we were greeted warmly, "Ciao". "Ciao", I replied - still struggling with the concept that hello and goodbye were the same word in Italian. The mind boggles. "Table for two please?" - the waiter bowed in agreement as if to suggest he had the perfect table. He did. We entered the ristorante which beamed with warm bokeh. I looked around to see who would be silently joining Nix and I on our date - the room was full of exquisitely dressed couples sipping on wine and dining on lobster. This was quite different to what I was used to but I pretended to belong as the waiter seated us in the middle of the room before posing his first question to the both of us.
"Champagne?"