Sat 31 Dec NEW YEAR’S EVE
Changed our Pounds to Euros, got refunds on our Oyster cards and caught the train to Gatwick. Our flight to Rome was cloudy until we got over the Italian Alps, which were snow covered. When we landed, the sun had set. We had a very fast, wild taxi ride with the driver taking the scenic route and pointing out some sights along the way (discovered this much later – at the time, it just totally disorientated me, as I had already figured out where we were staying in relation to major sites, and it made it seem like the distances were much greater).
We were met at our apartment by Francesca, on behalf of the owner. She was very friendly and welcoming – even with champagne and a huge Panettone (Italian celebration cake) for New Year’s Eve. She spent about 15 minutes explaining everything including the very obvious – how to use the electric jug, toaster and stove etc! The two things she didn’t look at were the washing machine and the heating, which we were unable to figure out, and had to do without! By this time it was 7 pm. We had some noodles (I always have some emergency food) and some of the Panettone and got ourselves sorted out.
Then at 9:30 we headed out to see what the local New Year celebration was all about. The internet said there was a concert (someone well known in Italy) with fireworks in a Piazza a few streets away. There were huge crowds of people going down the streets so we followed along. Then there were masses going the other way. There were fire crackers and explosions going off constantly, all over the place. There were police and ambulances on standby. We got to a certain point and decided to just wait and see what was happening, especially as there was no apparent concert, just masses of people and lots of explosions.
At about 10:30 pm we decided to go back, but that proved tricky. There were hundreds of people all squashed together with groups going in all directions, being pushed along. It was very hard to get to the edge of the group. You could see how people could be hurt or crushed in a crowd. It was actually quite scary. There were still people arriving and now filling all the side streets as well. There was no real ‘event’ just people setting things off. (The crackers kept exploding well after midnight just a few streets away from where we were staying). On the way back Matthew got hit in the face from something that exploded. He said it felt like a stone. There never was any sign of a concert.
At midnight (after going to bed) we heard a proper, long fireworks display followed by the ‘concert’. Midnight was apparently the start of the event, unlike in Australia where midnight is the end and then everyone goes home to bed!