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Our Second Night In Rome
by Don and Peg Doman
At the end of our first night in Rome we made plans to meet Friday morning at the Friendly Bar, which opens at 6:00 am . . . of course, thatís Italian time.
As an early riser I was up shortly after five and hit the streets well before six. I arrived at the Friendly Bar and then walked around the block several more times before they actually opened up. Peg slept in, but the rest of our group came strolling in for coffee about 6:45. The plan for the day was to visit St. Peterís and the Sistine Chapel. As would become my modus operandi, I decided to not stand in line, but rather I chose to take it easy every-other-day. The group headed out and we talked about getting together for dinner, but no definite plans or location were laid out.
I stayed at the bar a while longer and then Peg showed up. She had coffee and then asked me to buy her the little pitcher they used for milk to accompany their Danesi Caffe. I went inside and offered to buy one. The waiter wouldnít hear of it. He wrapped it up for Peg. I took it and presented it to her at the table. She gave me a great big smile, the kind I live for all day long.
Between the hotel and the bar along my trail there was activity. People were busily constructing booths and stalls for a farmerís market. We were to see this time and time again in Italy and Spain. Although there is fresh fish and vegetables there are also a lot of clothes and shoes being sold at these bazaars. It's kind of like a dollar store except everything costs more.
Peg was still thrilled with our own little Sistine Chapel-like paintings at the Cambridge. It's interesting to see paintings on the ceilings. Our own home has blue skies and clouds painted over our living room. I've also seen the lobby at a hotel in Portland, Oregon painted with sky and clouds. That is so peaceful.
Peg enjoys art anywhere she finds it and I had a piece to show her. Walking from the Cambridge to the Friendly Bar I had found the image of Jim Morrison. If the artist had chosen a slightly different setting, it might have passed as a holy stain on the stone and looked right at home in Rome. As it was it stood out, but it was not quite as bad as graffiti, which is everywhere in Rome. It's disconcerting to see a beautiful building or a nice garden wall defaced by spray paint. Itís even worse to see historical remains that have become someoneís canvas of choice.
Not only is graffiti everywhere, but so are parked cars and double parked cars. If there is a empty spot near the street that is roughly car shaped, soon there will be a car parked there . . . legally or not. Cars are parked everywhere: in front of doors, blocking sidewalks, sometimes triple parked or in the case of scooters, sometimes twenty-five parked. I read a question in a local magazine, "Surely double parking is illegal . . . well, isn't it?" Paolo Gangi writing in The Roman Forum (April 2007) answered that it was, but fines provide "an extremely significant contribution to the City of Rome's annual balance." In other words, Rome makes money off citations. It's probably cheaper than having parking meters, instead.
I showed Peg Mr. Morrison. She was not impressed. Then we headed to the Friendly Bar. After coffee we made our way through the market. We bought some strawberries, which are ultra sweet and have skins that are so smooth you want to keep tounching them.
For us it was novel to see fish laid out on ice (and some cases not laid on ice) and ready to buy on the city street. In Seattle you can see flying fish as the fish handlers throw them around at Pike Place Market, but you wouldnít normally see fish for sale just on a street corner. What's amazining to me is the wide variety of squid available for the family table.
We stopped in at a what's called a charcuterie in French. In English it's a processed meat and cheese store. There were hams hanging on the wall and lots of prepared sausages. I bought some cheese and several kinds of salami along with some bread, which I knew would make us a great sandwich later. The proprietor behind the counter sliced the cheese and meat for us and wrapped them up. I pointed. He cut. The sandwiches were excellent. The mortadella, which I've never liked in America, became one of my favorite sausage meats in Italy.
Back at the hotel I got online at the business office at the Cambridge and Peg took her receipt for the tour bus and headed back for a second round of free sight- seeing. Peg enjoyed her tour. She took time to draw and time to photograph many of the visual elements that captured her imagination. She looks for texture, color, form, beauty and whatever else moves her emotionally. She finds artistic elements everywhere and his extremely happy looking at them, studying them, and just plain experiencing them.
When she returned she took a nap and then having not heard yet from our friends we decided to have dinner. We chose a restaurant with outside seating (The Nazzareno), of course and just a couple of blocks from the hotel. The waiter was nice AND funny (which is an important criteria for us). He told us he had two different menus for people: expensive and cheap. We were looking over the menu when we heard shouts and laughter. Our friends were joining us. Great minds think alike and perhaps have GPS (Global Positioning Systems). Our waiter welcomed them and handed them the cheap menus.
My steamed clams were wonderful. The wine was wonderful and the mood relaxing and at the same time romantic. Well, it would have been romantic if everyone hadn't been so tired. The group returned with stories of long lines and beautiful rooms and works of art. They all loved the Vatican Museum although the halls stretched out forever . . . from room to room . . . and around corners. Good food, beer, wine, and laughter got everyone into high spirits . . . but the feet were weak and ready for bed.
The next day saw us up early to pack and then travel by slow train to Florence for our two week stay in Tuscany, which proved to be a dream come true.
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