Monday, April 25, 2005


We got lucky this time….we got a ride into Rome! Belinda had to fly to London for business, so Giacomo was driving her down on Thursday morning. They offered us a ride, and we were happy to accept. Getting the luggage in the car was a real challenge, but eventually we got our two large suitcases in the trunk. Art and I had to share the back seat with our carryon and Belinda’s suitcase…it was a tight fit!

We also got to meet Craig again, Belinda’s coworker who just bought an apartment in Rotecastello. He seemed to have lots of ideas about how we could make some money in Italy, and we’re looking forward to pursuing these ideas with him when we return to Italy. Like Belinda, he’ll be guiding tours almost nonstop all summer, but because Umbria is just two hours from Rome, it will be possible for them to get back for the odd day or two now and then. Although I think the job would be a great way to see the country, I also think it would be exhausting having to deal with forty people day in and day out, and the being away from home for extended periods of time would really suck.

After dropping Belinda off at Fiumicino, Giacomo drove us into Rome, which was something we had never done before. The traffic wasn’t too heavy, and the route Belinda had suggested was easy to follow. We said goodbye to Giacomo and promised to let him know when we got back. I’m sure we’ll have him for dinner from time to time, knowing that Belinda’s gone.

We stayed at the Aberdeen, for the embarrassing reason that they would take credit cards. We had socked all our available cash into the bank to cover our bills while we were away, so we couldn’t stay at The Beehive, where they require payment in cash. The Aberdeen is still close enough to Termini to be convenient, it’s clean, quiet, and the room rate includes a great breakfast buffet.

Rome was celebrating its birthday, and all city museums were free. We were hoping to see the Baths of Diocletian, since they were nearby and we had never been there before. Unfortunately, we would later discover that the Baths are a state museum, and not included in the free offer. Maybe next time.

We wandered down via Nazionale, hoping to find a pizzeria I had read about in several books called Est Est Est. Either it was worth finding, or the quality had dropped due to over popularity…you never know what to expect. We found the place with no problem at all….and it was closed up tighter than a drum. Whether they’ve changed closing days or gone out of business is unknown.

We turned the corner and wandered in the direction of Termini, hoping to stumble across something….and we did. We found this small restaurant with a set 11 euro menu that looked pretty good. It included pasta, a meat course, and a salad or vegetable. It was around two o’clock, and the restaurant was full. Luckily, a couple was just leaving, and after a short wait we were seated. Seeing that we were the only foreigners in the place made us hopeful that this would be a good meal.

For our pasta course Art choose the fettuccini with mushrooms, and I had the lasagna. Both were very good. For the meat course Art had chicken picata and I had grilled chicken. Both were very generously sized filets and were quite tasty. To finish (in the Italian style) we had a mixed salad.

After wandering around for a while, we returned to the hotel to rest and read the USAToday we had bought.

For dinner I wanted to find a gelateria I had read about. It was near the Trevi fountain, which was about a ten, maybe fifteen minute walk. We found the place, San Crispino, with no problem, but were both disappointed in the gelato. The flavors just weren’t as intense as we would have liked, and we both agreed that Stefania’s in Marsciano was MUCH better….oh well.

We walked down to the Trevi fountain and enjoyed watching the people. It would have been nice to stay until dark and see the fountain all lit up, but it was getting cooler and we decided to keep walking. It was fairly cool and breezy, and had been very cloudy for most of the day, making it even colder. We were both glad we had brought jackets….there were moments when I wished I hadn’t left the lining from my coat at home!

We found a little pizzeria near Santa Maria Maggiore, and enjoyed our last authentic Italian thin crust pizza for the next six weeks. Although it was good, I know that we’ll be heading to Ternana’s as soon as we return to Umbria.

We were hoping to get bumped on one or both of the flights back to the states, but that didn’t happen. The flight from Rome to Amsterdam and the flight from Amsterdam to Detroit were both uneventful. The plane for the Amsterdam-Detroit leg was a new Airbus 330 (?), and we had individual screens in the seatbacks. Usually if the movie is one I’d like to watch, I never have a good view of the screen. At least I wouldn’t have to worry about that.

We had our choice of quite a few movies, and ended up watching three….Being Julia, with Annette Bening was the best, which wasn’t a surprise. We also watched the new version of Alfie with Jude Law, and Electra, with Jennifer Garner, which was okay. At least it passed the time. I usually don’t even try to sleep when we fly to the states.

We had a layover of two hours in Detroit, but it went by fairly quickly. As we boarded the plane for Louisville, another passenger received a text message on their phone saying that a tornado had just touched down! Great!

The lady sitting next to us let us use her cell phone, and after failing to reach Angela, we did get a hold of Kelly, who told us that apparently a tornado had touched down in downtown Louisville, but the damage was relatively minor and it had moved out of the area.

A cold front had moved into the area, and I guess after having temperatures in the low 80’s, these two fronts had caused the tornado to develop. The cold front was still a problem for us, so we flew along the western border of Indiana for most of the flight, and even so, experienced some bumpiness real problems with the pressure…my ears usually don’t bother me, but they did on this particular flight.

We landed in Louisville about twenty minutes late, but Angela had been nearby, over at Cardinal Stadium for a U of L football scrimmage. She knew that the flight was delayed, and timed her arrival perfectly. We were glad to see that Nicholas had come with her, so we got to catch up with both of them on the ride home.

So here we are….settling in to live in the states, adjusting to the time change, and wishing we’d brought more warm clothes! I went through most of our mail at my sister’s when we stopped by there to pick up the car. My daughter and I made a quick stop in Target, then Kroger for a few supplies. I’ll wait til the end of my trip to buy most of the stuff I want to take back, unless of course I find it on sale before then.

On Saturday we rented Oceans 12, but I just couldn’t stay awake for it and crashed around 9:30. On Sunday we all went to see Robots on the IMAX screen, but I wish it had been in 3D like the Polar Express was…that was so incredibly cool! Anyway, Robots was cute, as expected.

This week Art has two doctor appointments, and I have to get my eyes examined. Art actually worked on Saturday, then went back on Sunday to help with the training of people who only work at the track at Derby time. He enjoyed seeing all of his old friends, and will now get to enjoy this week off. Once Churchill Downs opens next Saturday, it’ll be very busy for him. Things settle down a bit after Derby, and we’re hoping to be able to catch up with friends and family.

The good news is that I’ve been here for 3 days now and I haven’t gotten sick! Last year the Ohio Valley crud got me by the second day….maybe the fact that it’s so cold has helped in that regard.

And I got to talk to Jill and Larry! They seem to be readjusting to life in the states slowly but surely. Being gone for a year means that much has changed, and you have to establish new routines. At least in the states you have some frame of reference and can understand all the details. Larry has taken a part-time job at Starbucks for the interim, and they’re both still brainstorming to think of a way to return to Italy.


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