THE ITALY TRIP

The Full Story

Okay, maybe not the full story.  I have already forgotten a lot of details.  But I'm pretty sure I can hit all the highlights.  If you'd like to read the other Italy stories, here are the links:

The Night Before We Left

The Night We Returned

Rome:  Life Right-Side Up

Saint Who?

PHOTOS

Note:  I am putting this page up before I finish it, so the links will be available.  Please excuse the work-in-progress motif until I'm done.  Thanks.

ROMA!

Highlights:

Category #1:  Creature Comforts

(1)  The St. Regis Grand Hotel, recommended by my travel agent, was wonderful.  It's a gorgeous building and the staff was great.  A word of caution:  if you order room service breakfast, stick with the bread items that the Italians insist you eat for that meal.  Under the category of things we did wrong:  Don't order eggs or pancakes or any of the things they only make for Americans.  I'm not hard on food, believe me.  But the so-called pancakes were like trying to chew Styrofoam.  And the eggs...  I don't know what they were, but I can promise you that no chicken was ever in any way involved.

(2)  We took the concierge's advice and went to a restaurant called Il Pasetto.  It's an outdoor cafe just off of the Piazza Navona, and the food is excellent.  (Fettucine with white truffles!)  The best part of the dining experience was Romeo, the singing waiter.  And it's the kind of restaurant where everyone talks to everyone else, which is nice when you're in a foreign country.  The two guys at the table next to us were a father and son from Germany.  I had a loud conversation in Spanish (it was the only language we had in common) with a Brazilian lady two tables over.  We took all our friends back there on our last night, and it was perfect.  PHOTOS:  Group Shot; Romeo singing "Arrivederci Roma"

(3)  The best meal I ever slept through:  We celebrated my birthday at the Rooftop Restaurant at the Hotel Hassler.  I am told this was a wonderful experience.  Well, it's like this.  When we first arrived in Rome, the day before my birthday, we took everyone's advice and made ourselves stay awake until night.  We went to sleep around 10 p.m. and slept for about 12 hours.  When I woke up, I started proclaiming, "I don't have any jet lag at all!"  We then embarked on an adventure -- trying to see all of the city in an afternoon.  This is impossible, of course, so we gave up and decided to put some of it off until the next day.  My birthday was the day of Ignatian pilgrimage, but we decided it would be fun to walk from our hotel to the Gesu.  They are not close to each other.  Not by California standards, wherein a walk to the mailbox is considered a moderate hike.  We walked all over the world, or so it felt, and returned home in time to dress for dinner.  I am, of course, still bragging "I don't believe it, I have a ton of energy!"

So, we got all gussied up and went out to dinner.  The restaurant is on the top floor of the hotel and the hotel is at the top of the Spanish Steps.  Needless to say the view was spectacular! 

My first hint should have come when I was completely winded by the time we got to the door of the hotel.  But no.  I had to have the obligatory birthday margarita.  (Yes, they do know how to make margarita's  in Italy.  However, again under TWDW -- things we did wrong -- one has to make sure to say "margarita cocktail", otherwise one will end up with a pizza.) 

A margarita on an empty stomach is not the best idea for someone who is in denial about their international jet lag. I learned that the hard way, too.

I remember the first course.  It was risotto to die for.  I don't remember what kind, but it was wonderful.  Mushrooms may have been involved.  And something orange, probably carrots.  I was starting to nod off. For our main course we had spiny lobster, whatever that is.  Chris tells me that it was wonderful.  I ate mine in my sleep.  Seriously, I was falling asleep between bites and Chris kept having to wake me up.  Even worse, I was falling asleep in the middle of sentences.  Unfortunately, my mouth had a lag time thing going.  Once Chris said, "I think I could live here if it weren't for the traffic."  I said, "Well, if you think the traffic is bad, what about...Zzzzzzzz."  Chris nudged me and asked, "What's worse than the traffic?"  I looked puzzled.  "Nothing is worse than the traffic," I said, as if he were nuts.  This was the general tone of the dinner conversation.

Chris claims he had to keep climbing under the table to get my napkin and/or my date purse, both of which kept sliding to the floor.  I was just trying to remain upright until we could go home.  I was extremely unhappy to hear the piano playing "Happy Birthday" and to see a piece of cake with a candle coming in my direction.  I did manage to remain awake while everyone in the restaurant watched me blow out the candle, though I do remember staring at it for a long time.  I hope they thought I was having a hard time deciding on a wish.

Finally Chris suggested I go sit in the lobby and wait for him to pay the bill.  I think he was tired of everyone in the restaurant looking at him like, "That poor guy, he brought his wife here for a nice birthday dinner and she's a passing out drunk."  The next thing I remember was Chris waking me up in the lobby...

Anyway, I hear the dinner was wonderful.  A tad pricey (the equivalent of $300.00 in American dollars for two people with no wine) but the view was worth half of that.  I'd love to go back there and have the same dinner sometime when I'm awake.

Next page:  Spiritual Experiences