When in Rome….. Always used to use this saying and finally, I have made my way to Italy and got to say it in the city itself!
We left Galway mid afternoon with the onset of rain – standard Irish Summer you might say but it was at least warm and we have had some great weather lately, just not now! We were happy to be off on a trip to leave this behind. Italy was the plan, Rome first then finishing up the tour in Naples. We had checked the forecast and it was looking hot and dry! Perfect. We landed around 9pm and it was still about 24 degrees, beautiful weather!
The next day was just the same. Now, before I get slated for only talking about jiu jitsu, I am cultured and shit. We hit all the sights, Vatican, Colosseum, Sistine Chapel, St Peters Bascilica and a whole swag of stuff along the way in Rome. We were on a time frame so we need to head back another time to explore the rest of this amazing city – I am thinking that we are coming back without the kids next time!
Our next destination was Naples. We caught the later time train there as our accommodation was only up the road from the Napoli Centrale train station so perfect situation! Big plans again to explore Naples. Among general exploration, we had Pompeii, old Naples city and Sorrento high on our list of things to do – pizza, pasta and gelato was all my daughter was interested in though!
As our time was limited, I had to plan out when I would be able to get some mat time in. The beauty of the world these days and the internet is that we have great sites and communities like the BJJ Globetrotters which has helped me find gyms and friends on my travels so far and this one was again no different!
I threw a post up on the FaceBook page asking for suggestions for both Rome and Naples but Naples was the city where I actually found that I would have a bit of time to hit the mats. Once again, the community were great, heaps of information posted and I was shown in the direction of O-Nami Jiu Jitsu in Naples. After making initial contact, they were fantastic in helping me sort out where they were, how to get to the gym from the Napoli Centrale and I was set to train on the Monday night at 8pm! Now, time management and I always have had an awkward relationship. Sometimes I am perfect with it, other times, not so much! This day was one of the latter….
So we went nice and early on the train to Pompeii. Holy schmoly, that place is amazing. It is also humongous and we explored it as much as we could for around for around 3 hours and we saw so much. Fun fact: what I didn’t know was there were so many brothels in that place! We accidentally walked into a guided tour in English just in time to get a tour in a recreated brothel site and heard all the sordid stories of debauchery! There were even pictures on the walls that the “customers” used to select what they interested in! Anyways, after all this we needed to catch a train to Sorrento to swim in the Mediterranean sea. We caught another train to there and swam in the most amazing clear, cool sea and it was the perfect way to complete our family day of exploring. We had hoped to catch a train back to Naples that was at about 5:45pm, this would have gotten us back to Naples in time for me to make it to the Jiu Jitsu class. Well, after all the walking throughout the day, we were going a little bit slower so we missed that one and thought well, no big deal, there is another one at 6pm. This was going to mean I would be in a rush so I messaged Renato from O-Nami and he was super helpful, even offered to pick me up from the station. This was going to be perfect……except the train was delayed until about 6:30pm and it didn’t get back until just after 8pm and I still had to get my gi and then make it to the gym! Phew! I thought that after all the help and communication from Renato, I at least owed it to them to turn up. My wife and the kids walked back from the station while I sprinted back to the accommodation, quickly showered, grabbed my gi and then ran downstairs just in time as my wife and kids showed up. We said bye and I was off. Back to catch another train then walk to the gym. As I was already late, I caught the train, got off and then decided I would run the 2kms to the gym. I did not realize it would basically uphill!
I arrived at the gym, dripping with sweat as it was still 24 degrees AND it was now just after 9pm. So not the times I wanted to make but I was welcomed in, I got changed and we jumped into rolling right away.
First up I rolled with Renato, big guy with crazy good de la riva, awesome guard passing and we had a great roll. It was nice pace, which I really needed as I was already tired from the big day and the workout to get there! After Renato, I rolled with a mix of blue belts and a very high level purple belt. I also got to roll with Max – another big black belt there who was so relaxed and just had a great style of jiu jitsu. By the end of it all, I had maybe 5 rolls all up, I had to take a rest twice and in hindsight, I would have planned it all better with not such a big day before hand but hey, we play with the hand we are dealt on the day! Not all the times on the mats are we the hammer, sometimes we are the nail, on this day I felt like the piece of wood that the nail was being drive into! I had so much fun though, I just tried to not make any big mistakes! I was also pretty quick to tap when I needed! The skill level of this gym was amazing, all top level players and they were also all such good people! I got offered a lift home, I got a photo with the team and I also managed to get onto social media connections with them! All in all, this is what the BJJ journey is about to me. I made friends here, had a great adventure in getting to the gym and then got to roll with them all. I would love to come back here and roll again. I highly recommend this place to all that travel to Naples. Hopefully I will be back, and in the not too distant future!! OSS
“In the course of battle, you could find 100 different reasons to give up, but you got to find that one reason to stay in there, one reason to stay in the fire” – Chael Sonnen