Thursday, July 7, 2011

Villa Adriana

I met my language exchange buddy Sergio for the first time today. The school I go to teachers English and Spanish as well as Italian. So they try to pair the Italian students with the foreign students; they get to practice their English or Spanish and we get to practice our Italian.

Sergio suggested he take me near to where he live in the town of Tivoli, about 25 km from Rome. He figured I would see a lot of Rome so best to see the outskirts. Tivoli is home to the Villa Adriana, a UNESCO World Heritage Site built in the 2nd century. The villa was used as a retreat from Rome for the Roman Emperor Hadrian. He did not like the palace in Rome so he liked to leave away.

The villa was impressive - with a swimming pool, theatre and rooms to fit a large court. Not a bad place to get away from Rome. In the 2nd century it took 10 days to get to Tivoli, today it is only a 30 minute bus ride away.

Sergio has been studying Spanish for four years now. His Spanish is so much better than my Italian. I suggested we speak Spanish for our first lesson. I figured I could do with a bit of practice of Spanish as well. We walked around the villa. Sergio was very proud of his hometown. He is still studying at University as well, hoping to one day be a diplomat. I too studied international relations at University - so we seemed to have something in common.

He told me about his girlfriend and his life in Italy and his interest in traveling around the world including Australia. He asked if I had a girlfriend. It is always a tricky question, coming from someone you just met.

Italy seems conservative to me. Maybe it is the fact that it is home to the Catholic church. I guess in some ways it is liberal - lots of female nudity on TV. But when it comes to family - and homosexuality, it seems they are conservative. I guess I need to do more research into this!

My flatmate who is American-Italian and gay says many Italians are still closeted about homosexuality. The gay scene is very underground here as well.

“I’m single,” I told Sergio. I figured I was still being honest - I am single.

We ended the day with a full three hour sunset meal. If he had not told me he had a girlfriend, I would have thought it was the most perfect romantic Roman date. There was a first plate, two plates of pasta and dolce! The sunset was amazing and the whole place was a scene out of Under the Tuscan Sun. Now I felt like I was in Italy - having an Italian feast with a Roman Sergio!

La Dolce Vita!

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