My recent travels had me in Rome for a few days with my kids and beyond the tourist stuff I did - funny being one of those guys I see in NYC riding the tourist buses but I now know they really are handy for visitors.
Wanting to see some of the real Rome I had contacted that ever popular Italian online marketer Massimo. He gladly offered to show us some local color. We met him in Travestere at the fountain at the piazza St. Marie - hope I got that close Massimo.
Now my kids are 16 and 13 and have traveled a bit and both were studying Italian, so this was a bonus 4 days on the way to Australia. My daughter loved the ancient ruins and churches, my 13 y-o son was mostly bored - no fights anymore at the Colosseum may have been a reason. So the side trip to an authentic neighborhood with a local would make for an interesting distraction.
I could not have asked for a better evening. We set out near his office and everywhere we stopped people knew and loved him. He gave the city the best spin and had my kids entertained with his stories. The daughter had some wine and water - as many Italians her age do at meals and we talked about the world that lay ahead for them.
After stops for aperitif and appetizers and then a great long dinner we walked a while and got them back to the hotel to get some sleep. Massimo and I had other plans.
He showed me his local - and by the greetings of so many old friends who see him about as much as those of us who do the search conference circuit - he is a loved character that everyone wanted to hear about his latest exploits. So we spent a couple of hours where he would not let me pay for a drink (after he bought dinner), introduced me to stunning and friendly models and all sorts of creative Romans.
Then the late night tour of the city began. On to his motorcyle, we went whipping through the mostly abandoned cobblestone streets and saw a side of Rome few tourists would be able to find on maps.
His love of the city showed and he knew all the cool places to see the city. Three spots with interior views of the Colosseum - little cul de sacs where the locals hung out. He even showed me an amazing sight at the Maltese Embassy (hope I got the right country Massimo) - but in this out of the way place with huge walls you walk up to a particular set of doors and there is a large peephole about the size of a silver dollar. You look in to the building and even though it was after midnight and dark, you had a view of Vatican - apparently the building is headquarters of the Knights of Malta - hidden away in Aventine hills where the richest houses in Rome are.
The midnight ride was a blast - cutting through restricted areas at the speed of sound - okay maybe a little slower but not much - hitting sharp turns and coming out on some great views of this fabulous city.
Massimo I had a blast and I will forever associate Rome with that great evening. See you at the next conference or maybe Burning Man. My kids will be talking about the conversations for quite a while.