Italia – the land of pizza, pasta, gelato, and unbeknownst to Lucy – FOOD POISONING! Italy was a wild ride but provided us with some of the greatest and most hilarious memories of our lives.
The Experience of Dumb and Dumber; Lucy and Alex.
After leaving Berlin physically unscathed but mentally strained, having endured a 60 euro tram fine – twice, nearly being hit by a bike, battling to change hostel rooms 4 times after being confronted with 50 year old Romanian men, and suffering frostbite with only summer wear in our backpacks, WE MADE IT TO POSITANO.
The glorious Positano – a town along the Amalfi Coast occupied by millionaire Yacht’s, over-priced linen shops and exorbitant restaurants. We stayed in a beautiful little AirBnB, the cheapest we could find in Positano, with a gorgeous view of the multi-coloured houses and green mountains. We counted to a T, the 452 steps we climbed to and from the beach up to our room, and though a true challenge to our fitness, it gave us an excuse to order an extra scoop of gelato.
Our days were spent lying on the black-coloured volcanic sand, eating peaches and yoghurt, and casually topping up our sunscreen. The most traumatising evening of Positano was the night we decided to eat at C’era Una Volta. Alex liked to be resourceful throughout our European journey, picking any figs on fig trees and eating them till her bowels burst. ‘Lucy I’ll take ten of these figs and we can eat them for dessert’.
Alex couldn’t resist, so before our dinner came she chuffed down her 5 figs. After dinner, I decided to take a bite of one, and I have an odd habit of looking at my food before I eat it, and as I did, I came eye to eye with a million baby maggots breeding inside of this fig. I was horrified. I threw it on the table and screamed, and Alex ran to the bathroom in tears because she’d just consumed five of them. That’ll teach her not to steal from the Garden of Eden…
One day, that was particularly hilarious and significant, and which totally just sums up the obscure and random nature of our travels, was the 8th of October. We started our day as per usual, lying on the beach, on the sand like peasants, as we refused to pay 20 euros for a sun bed.
Next minute, our ears are alerted to what can only be recognised as the Almighty anthem of Despacito. Looking up, we realised on the other side of the fence (where the rich bathe on sun beds) was the shooting of what seemed to be a Bollywood movie. On Positano beach. In Italy. The director rushed on over to our pleb side of the beach, and shouted ‘We need extras to lie on the sunbeds!’ Say no more Dario. We jumped over the fence and planted our oily bodies on the beds. What started as a great opportunity to use the Positano sun beds, turned into a life-long dream – the beginning of our acting careers.
We listened to Despacito about 50 times that day, as we danced with famous Bollywood actors with net-worths of billions of dollars, and even scored a free lunch meal during their break (because we’d been acting really hard). The funniest thing ever, is what followed after meeting the director of cinematography in the water. We were just enjoying our swim, when the Director of Photography – David someone, recognised our Aussie accents.
After discovering he was from Vauclause (of course) in Sydney, he kindly teased us that he’d try and get us in some more of the beach shots. We, of course, thought he was pulling our leg. We return to our sunbeds, preparing ourselves for yet another loop of Despacito, when we hear over the speaker ‘Lucy and Alex can you please come to the front!’ Before we knew it, we were being sprayed with water to make our bodies look glossy, having our hair brushed by makeup crew, and walking across the beach in front of the camera – we were pissing ourselves! What a joke! It didn’t end here.
Alex got scouted as the supreme model, and was asked to lay on an elevated chair whilst the lead male strolled past her. ‘Alex we need you to lift your head a bit higher please for this shot’. It was hilarious. The funniest thing ever was that all the Italian and Indian actors and extras that had been there since 6am, were kicked out of the firing line by us two Aussie fuck wits who had just turned up an hour ago to have a laugh.
One Italian chick, got so irritated, that she actually through a beach ball at my head. One thing led to another and before we knew it we were stuck – we had to remain on the beach whilst the camera men got the perfect angle of Alex, and it soon hit 5pm. It was an entire game changer when we heard from some extras that they were getting paid… so, adamant and relentless, Alex demanded we get paid for our time and excellent acting contribution.
We head up to the Producer, and say ‘Hi there, we’ve been here all day and haven’t actually signed the contract. Also, when do we get paid?’ Realising we were from Aus, he goes ‘Oh you’re from Australia? Naomi Watts is a great friend of mine’. That’s great Paul, give us our fucking money. He handed over 50 euros each for both of us – we were KILLING OURSELVES LAUGHING.
WHAT A DAY! So, if you see a Bollywood Spy/Thriller/Romance, (currently it is an Untitled YRF Film) set in the Amalfi Coast starring sex god Hrithik Roshan, on the charts for 2019, just know that that’s our debut film.
We got back to our AirBnB and started thinking wisely about how we were to spend this sacred 50 euros. Every night in Positano, we’d go to Le Sirenuse, one of the most beautiful and expensive hotels in Europe, and stand from their balcony to see the sunset. We quickly looked online to see just how expensive their champagne bar menu was…. 21 euros a cocktail… FK IT! We were ready for the splurge. We asked for a table at 7pm, and the doorman snorted a laugh in disbelief that we could afford such a place – well, Romeo, did you just star in a Bollywood blockbuster? Didn’t think so. Now move aside as we dine on oysters. Not quite.
We did however, order ourselves 2 cocktails each, and enjoyed the complementary bar snacks of sea salt chips, roasted peanuts and Sicilian olives – OUR FAVE. When we’d finish the snacks, I’d ask the waiter ‘Un’altra piatto di olive…?’ with my begging eyes.
We ended up eating 5 rounds of bar snacks, and we were absolutely stuffed – a great meal had! It was such a special view – it was so stunning and we felt like celebs eating up there – especially when sat next to an elderly couple, adorned in jewelled bracelets, consuming buckets of seafood worth 50 euros each. They definitely turned their noses up at the pace and manner in which we stuffed our faces with those chips and licked our fingers.
Positano treated us well. And so did Venice, which was our next stop!
With our AirBnB man Mario cancelling our accommodation two days before Venice and leaving us stranded, we finally found ourselves in Archie’s Hostel, where mosquitoes were plenty and cleanliness was at an all-time low. Passing our days rummaging the streets of Venice, getting lost in the maze, staring in awe at the Rialto bridge and La Piazza di San Marco, we worked up quite an appetite. ‘Feast on pasta and pizza’ they say – well, not always so possible when you’ve got 2 euros to your name…
So we devised a skit: truffle shops became our go-to, where we’d walk into the lush truffle store, and try every single truffle paste – from truffle butter, to mushroom truffle, to honey truffle… explaining to the store worker ‘oh Dad would love this… what flavour do you think a 58-year-old man would like?’ as we stuff ourselves to the brim and leave the shop ten kilos heavier.
But that was only the beginning of our nightly feast… the glorious bakery ‘Farini’ on a street corner gave us a whole new challenge – if you buy a drink you get free nibbles…. which included oven-roasted pizzas flourishing with zucchini, prosciutto, feta, olive oil and pesto…
Only we could’t afford these delicacies… so we’d grab an empty aperol spritz glass and head on over to grab our free tasters, sipping on our glasses to look oh-so posh (probs catching glandular fever all the while), despite being dressed like we’d just been hit by a bus. If anyone’s travelled Europe with a Turkish towel, you’ll know the true pain of using that towel, not only as a beach towel, but also as a shower towel…. it ain’t pretty and it don’t smell friendly. Damp, sandy and dirty af. It was time for a towel upgrade – but Franco’s demand we pay 6 euros to rent a towel was proving a rather cruel obstacle… So we’d wait till he was in quiet slumber and sneak into his secret towel cupboard.
Venice was delightful. Our next stop was the capital… Roma. We walked to our lovely hostel – The Yellow Hostel, which was probably the most fun and sociable hostel we’d encountered on our journey. We made a bee-line for the Colosseum, enjoying Jenny’s cheese and crackers we’d taken from the hostel fridge, as well as the highly-esteemed Sistine Chapel where we had a very severe existential crisis… I then suggested, by stupidity, that we visit Trastevere, a cute little town with vine-covered buildings and bakeries. Like that last-ski slope run, where you’ve been having a jolly day and then break your arm because you get too greedy for the mountain, I too, was just about to be taught a savage lesson.
Entering what appeared as a lovely, sanitary bakery, with an array of delicious pizzas and rolls, I picked myself out a treat of a smoked salmon baguette. The lady picked me, of course, the one with the least amount of salmon, and for my 6 euros worth I wanted the one with more salmon (greedy bitch). ‘Sorry can I have that one there at the front, it has more salmon’ – words that would in 4 hours, land Lucy on the toilet… for 4 hours…..
It was walking back to our hostel, where I realised this was going to be a long, lonely night. Poor Alex was keen to go out drinking with our fellow Aussies exploring Rome, but her mood was dampened by my lack of companionship – as I was too busy listening to drunken bathroom conversations, and counting the number of people that entered the bathroom every ten minutes. It was quite the thrilling food-poisoning game. I recommend if you’re ever in a public place and this atrocity occurs. Alex did a fabulous job trying to give me privacy in the UNI-SEX bathrooms by putting the ‘cleaning in progress’ sign at the door. But it was only a matter of time before people would push it aside… and enter the bathroom and destroy my dignity.
When I finally found the strength to walk back to my room, I was inundated with the Spanish chick asking if I was okay, typing into google translate and showing me on her phone ‘I can drive you hospital?’ Thank you Sophia, I really did consider it…. Sophia was a peculiar character in our Rome hostel. Think she walked about 4 steps in the 4 days we were there – she never left her bed. She’d wake up at 9am, lie in bed all day scrolling through the very depths of her insta feed, sending the occasional snapchat to Spanish contenders for her throne… and at 5pm, she finds a sudden excitement to adorn her face in layers of heavy makeup, only to lie back down on her bed, and pull up the covers. Hey, you gotta make yourself feel good don’t cha. #self-love.
Just when you think food poisoning is at its tail-end, it surprises you at 4am with a burst of vengeance. I ran to the bathroom and began chugging my guts up, providing sweet noise for the strangers next to me making a baby. It was a highlight of my existence to say the least. Just when it couldn’t get worse, I found out the next morning that the guy was sleeping on my top bunk ‘oh my god you were the one throwing up last night next to our cubicle’ – yes, Matthew, that was me.
And that was Rome, will not be visiting that bakery again any time soon. Salmon betrayed me.
Despite the Rome incident, Italy is such a beautiful place in the world. It is so rich in history and art and there’s definitely ways to navigate around the costly prices that can hold you back. Ciao for now, off to attend the movie premier of Jai Ho 2.