Thursday, March 4, 2010

Friends, Romans,countrymen lend me your Moncler

I’ve long since considered Romans to be the sensationally over-accessorized Barbie Dolls in the toy box where the English would be Steiff teddy bears, perennially redecorating Dolls Houses. The average Roman owns an exhaustive range of designer accessories, enough to make the ground floor of an Harvey Nichols department store feel inadequate. Winter sunglasses, summer sunglasses, swimming goggles, skiing sunglasses and goggles, sometimes I wonder if their passion for seasonal sports exists only to facilitate  their obsession with modelling the latest quality accessories, prime example: The Roman skier.

Every February, as soon as they have digested their last "Frappe"(Roman "Pancake Day" food),  Romans strap their skis onto their little silvery cars and hurtle up the motorway to invade the Alps and the Dolomites, in much the same way their mighty ancestors invaded Northern Europe centuries ago. Faultlessly accessorized and exorbitantly decked out in Moncler  (unoffical suppliers of the Roman ski uniform) they are ready to face their greatest enemy since Boadicea: snowboarders.  They regard them with as much contempt as Jaguar drivers felt for gold Ford Capri drivers in the 70s.  Roman skiers, as far as they are concerned, own the mountains and snowboarders are cheapening their territory, way more than Ryanair could ever cheapen air travel and that takes some doing.

As an aspiring New Roman, I realise I’ll never be fully respected until I can ski and accessorize properly (should I be wearing slippers and sunglasses typing this?)  so last weekend I set off for Roccaraso, in Abruzzo. It’s a relaxing ski resort which has been unexpectedly conquered by wealthy Neapolitans. By car, it takes less than three hours from Rome, subtract 30 mins if a Roman is driving you there, or an hour if his ancestors are Neapolitan. Within twenty minutes of my arrival in the resort, two local brothers (think Newhart) kitted me out, under the supervison of their wise old aunt who invented a price and introduced me to another brother who promised to teach me all I needed to know. True to his word, three days later I could perform a respectable snow-plough, although I'm confused about why the position internationally referred to as "slice of pizza" is called "fish fin" in Italy, equally "french fries" is called "unite your skis"  And I thought Italians were into their food.

 Back in the Eternal city, I feel more Roman than Caesar himself until the Romans catch sight of my burnt face. Once again, I’m exposed as an imposter and lectured about the difference between Piz Buin lotion for the beach and for the mountains, goggles for skiing and sunglasses for Winter walks in Trastevere. Come on Romans! Are you telling me  Marc Antony was wearing his funeral-oration sunglasses for his “Lend me your ears” speech, because  his fling-with-an-Egyptian-queen goggles wouldn't have been appropriate? Of course he was.

A note for visitors to Rome who fancy going skiing: My hotel recommendation is the Hotel Suisse in Roccaraso. Perfect for a “settimana bianca” (white week.skiing holiday), it’ s a friendly, cosy family hotel which keeps its Christmas lights and outside Christmas trees in place well into March. The food is average, but the overall value is good and the staff can’t do enough for you, even denying themselves a good snigger when you look like a partially deflated hot-air balloon in your ski suit. Tripadvisor has only one review because this place is a secret. The review is in Italian but trust me, a good time was had by all.
TO POSTS VIA FEED. Ice cream's on me in Rome!


  1. So funny, when I think of Italy I never think of the cold snowy parts of Italy. Glad you had good time. Discovered any new muscles you didn't think you had? (giggling as she sits with her "reading" sunglasses on).

  2. Reading sunglasses, that's hysterical!