After many years of waiting and planning we finally took the initiative and did it. Destination Italy!
Photo by James Stringer
Jenn and Roberto coming from Vermont in the North and me coming up from Florida rendezvoused at JFK in New York. From there we took our trans-Atlantic flight to Rome, our home base and starting point. For two weeks we traveled and ate our way through Rome, Sicily and Sardinia. It was a delightful mix of site seeing and family visiting. What a way to begin what I hope will be many future trips back to Italy. There was so much to see and do that this was just an appetizer. But I want to share some of the adventures we had during our stay. Let’s just say it was quite a learning experience in more ways than one and you will see what I mean as I go on.
It will take several posts to finish the story. So I will start at the beginning and tell you about Rome. It would be a challenge if you did not speak the language but I must say people were friendly and it wasn’t too bad – well, for me anyway. Roberto, who was born in Italy, was our guide and translator and then Jenn, who has been there before, had many ideas to offer to, especially when it came to eating gelato. So I was in good shape.
Our arranged transport took us from Fiumicino to the little B&B, The Dumus Betti, right in town on Via Germanico. In fact we could see the walls of the Vatican from our street corner. Our accommodations were so varied during our stay in Italy and, as this was my first “home” there, I need to tell you about it – and the proprietor. We had to ring at a large iron gate to enter and once inside made our way upstairs to the entrance. The building had other uses as well but the B&B of 4 rooms was on the second floor.
My room was just a cute little spot at the end of the hall with this wonderful window that opened onto the street. I loved the frilly white curtain and the separate shutter and the little flower box flanked by flags outside. It was cool in the room mostly if you left the window open. But it was a choice – no AC or no screens. I opted for no screens until one night a little green friend made its way to my bedside. The bathroom was small, but adequate. There as a small shower, sink, commode and this other thing - a bidet. I had no idea how to use it. They were everywhere we went. Some say they are good to wash your feet. But I don’t think that is what they are supposed to wash. Anyway, I never did find out.
From there I could see the busy (and noisy) street below. There were either hordes of tourists walking back from the Vatican or late night revelers passing by from the clubs. On the corner across the street was the little café where we stopped for many cappuccinos or espressos – when it was open!! You always here about how things just shut down during the day, but you really have to be there is experience it. We Americans are, well, spoiled AND just too much in a BIG HURRY. Just below was a bank of trash dumpsters – which were emptied usually in the middle of the night!! On the corner nearest us was a clothing huckster who set up shop in his little canopy tent bright and early every morning. Best of all was the ATM which was our saving grace many a time. (Did I mention that every time I used it I was charged 10 dollars? Five there and five at home) Gheez!
The good news about our location was that we were right in the middle of town. The bad news about it was that we were in the middle of town.
Once settled in, we needed to find a place to eat and just strolling up the street found this little spot that had the most wonderful buffet. For fewer than 10 Euros each we drank the local wine and ate our fill of antipasti and pasta. What a lucky find. Sated, we retuned to our rooms for a little nap. Roberto’s mother, Anna, came to greet us after she finished her day at work which capped off our first day in Rome. We spent the first evening just poking around getting our bearings and, after a long day of travel, just relaxing.
The proprietor was a nervous fellow who reminded me a lot of a little Munchkin from Oz. He was either shushing us or relentlessly knocking on our door in the mornings to serve his little breakfast tray of cappuccino, orange juice and a cornetto. I think he was happy when we left as he knocked on my door, carried my bag to the hall and said “Arrivaderci”.
The next morning we had an early start to see the Vatican – but that is for another day.