In March 2004, Domo-kun and I rendezvoused in the land of pasta, pizza, and piety, spending a good chunk of our two weeks in Rome, Perugia, and the Cinque Terre. (You can read about our first adventure together here.) I fully assumed (and was totally fine with the idea) that we’d do nothing but stuff our faces or be in shambling comas from said face-stuffing. What I didn’t expect was someone as seemingly savage as Domo to appreciate fine art and architecture, but he did.
In Rome, our feet soon ached from inspecting the intricate ceilings, stunning stained glass, and hand-hewn pews of each basilica we passed. He insisted that we stop at every Bernini fountain to marvel at the marble masterpieces, but he refused to wade in the Trevi Fountain à la Fellini’s La Dolce Vita, claiming that the water would make him frizzy. We did, however, visit the Bocca della Verita and re-enact the classic Audrey Hepburn/Gregory Peck scene in Roman Holiday (although his performance was admittedly half-hearted since he has no hands to begin with). Naturally, we checked many other popular attractions off our sightseeing list and even let a gypsy woman and her children by the Colosseum rifle through our bags. We veered from the tourist track and caught a glimpse of Rome’s small punk scene in a graffiti-covered squat, where Taxi and two other Italian bands covered relatively obscure acts like Johnny Moped and the Normals.
Come for the Wine‘s Marcy Gordon and her Italian friend Fabio met up with us in the walled hill town of Perugia, the capital of the region of Umbria and known for its annual Umbria Jazz Festival, a chocolate fest, and several universities. Together we awkwardly engaged in la passeggiata (evening stroll), broke bread with Buddhist anarchists, and trudged along snow-lined Monte Subasio. Between heavy, leisurely meals, we took daytrips to Assisi and other cobblestoned, red-roofed Umbrian towns, making sure to get lost at least thrice between destinations.
Domo and I eventually made our way to the Cinque Terre, stopping off at Pisa for a quick photo jaunt. Somehow, we couldn’t capture the tower’s legendary lean before time came to scramble back to the train station, but once we arrived in Riomaggiore (the southernmost of Cinque Terre’s five coastal villages), our disappointment evaporated. The Cinque Terre is for the most part accessible only by a small train or on foot, which means it’s absurdly quiet and hasn’t changed much in hundreds of years. It was also markedly warmer and sunnier than the other parts of Italy we’d been to. We joined high-heeled Italian women and their children on the rugged trail that connects the five villages, absolutely enchanted that the flora and craggy coastline reminded us of the California coast. The expansive view of the stepped hills, tight cluster of colorful homes, and the Mediterranean Sea’s sparkling turquoise water, coupled with a series of brief but arduous ascents, was truly breathtaking.
We overnighted in charming, tranquil Vernazza, the second-northernmost village, and considered staying there forever—until we heard the Clash and Green Day reverberating through the night. I remembered that I wasn’t ready to retire from rock ‘n’ roll just yet; he realized that he still needed urban discord to fuel his daily rawr and fist-shake. And so with that we returned to our respective noisy, messy homes. Check back soon for more of our adventures together!