Sharing the Wonder of My First Solo Trip in 1973: Rome

On my first solo-trip to Europe, in 1973 — just after high school graduation — I wrote postcards home nearly every day. I packed so much information onto each card it was a challenge to read them without a magnifying glass. Looking back on these exuberant little reports back to my family (42 years later!), I can see a travel writer in waiting. While the writing is pretty goofy, the passion for experience was solid. Here’s a card from Rome.



Hi Folks back home, we’ve just about polished off Rome. Man we’ve seen a lot! I don’t have the time, ink, or paper to tell you what we’ve done completely but, for instance, last Sunday’s schedule was: 7:30-10:00 Flea Market, 10:30-11:30 Coliseum, 12:00-2:00 Forum, 2:00-3:30 Capitoline Hill, Mussolini’s headquarters, Victor Emmanuel monument, 4:00-5:00 train station to cash checks, 5:30-7:30 eat dinner, take showers + dress for opera, 8:00-12:00 Tosca opera with Frank, our landlord, 12:00-12:30 tour with Frank by wild car of Rome, 1:00 plop into bed. The opera by Puccini was really a thrill. It was in the ruins of the baths of Caracalla + it’s the biggest stage for opera in the world! There was a full house, full orchestra, + great cast. We had the Tosca script in English to follow along. Then Frank, our landlord who can’t speak no English, screeched around Rome like the Grand Prix for a tour + then we slept. Monday we saw the Vatican City, gigantic St Peter’s Cathedral, the Pieta by Michelangelo (we’ve seen about 70% of his work now) the Sistine Chapel + Vatican Museums + then we saw what everybody sees when they come to Rome – Fountains, Parthenon, Spanish Steps, churches, Moses, etc. We had a splurge of a breakfast on the steps of St. Peters, we took a bus out to the Appian Way + walked around + while waiting for the bus we got a neat 22 yr old Italian to pick us up. Most Italians are real friends. We had a great time + he took us right to the Coliseum. We got tickets to Aida opera Tues night + then I got the bug to bargain + haggle. We haggle for everything now + I’m getting OK at it. I got 60 Kodak slides of Rome – reg 5,000 lire, for 1,300 lire ($2.20)! It’s so much fun to talk prices. We sat around the Forum waiting for a sound + light spectacle that never came + then, after goofing around with some more sellers, we walked home. The only problem is that, I sweat so much + get so dirty. It’s awful. When my arm gets wet – mud forms + that’s the truth. I did have a great bath before Tosca. We found a great way to eat well + cheap. You go into a pizzeria + point out your pizza + how much you want, then pay by the weight, and you have a feast. We ate tons of pizza last night for 40 cents each! Well well well, Goodbye – RICK


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