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Trip Report At the Risk of Being Crude: There Must Be Fifty Ways to Flush a Toilet: Trip Report from Rome, Florence and Pompeii.

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Before anyone gets worried that this is the trial and tribulations of someone traveling through Italy who is 'bladder challenged,' it's really about the epiphany I had on our recent trip to Italy about their bathrooms ' lots more on that later.

Having made our first trip to Italy in 2006 and fallen in love like the rest of you on this board, around my house, I've become the 'counter.' There might be 272 days and 18 hours of Bush in the White House but there are 387 days and 5 hours until I get back to Italy.

I started counting for this trip last December when we decided to abandon our usual National Park spring break adventure and go to Europe just as the café tables and chairs were once again taken out of winter storage and set outside for people watching and a quick espresso. I added weather in Rome, Florence and Naples to my iPhone and in meetings would find myself surreptitiously checking it. I bought cool scarves I imagined myself wearing as I shopped for Zucchini Blossoms in Campo Di Fiori. I did my research using Fodor's Rome 25 Best, Frommer's Guide to Italy, Eyewitness Rome and Florence, watched a terrific but slightly overwrought documentary on Pompeii (Pompeii: The Last Day ' you can buy it at www.discovery.com) and used the In Rome Now website: http://www.inromenow.com/ which has a lot of great information about the shops and events in Rome. Most importantly, I revved up my exercise regime and took 2 and 3 mile hikes every morning knowing I would have to walk off the Bolognese and Chianti Classico from the night before. Thank God for that.

Oh, and I started packing three weeks before our trip much to the amusement of my 'throw it in the suitcase, sit on it and zip it' husband and son.

And my husband, bless his heart, since our last trip, did 90 minutes of Pimsleur's Italian EVERY DAY for the last year and a half while he rode his recumbent bike. Sometimes it sounded like he was being tortured by the Mussolini regime, as I would hear a strained and panting 'Dove il bagno' emanating from the other room. But it paid off.

Now to our trip ' 9 days in Rome at The Inn at the Spanish Steps, two days in Florence at Hotel Santa Maria Novella and a day trip to Pompeii. The last time we were in Rome for only 4 days and just scratched the surface, no Scavi tour pun intended' Our dream is to eventually spend a month in a city and not feel quite so much like a tourist though happily a tourist I am for now.

My husband, daughter, son and I left LAX in late March on Air France. I had enough miles to bump us up to business class and although, as an Army brat and frequent traveler, I'm used to long lines and rubbing thighs with chatty dude next to me with peanut breath, there's nothing like an international lounge, champagne, crackers from Fauchon and a mini-massage to kick off your trip. On board, we nestled into our L'Espace Premiere Barcaloungers, went into a Xanax haze and 11 hours, two movies and three meals later, we were in Paris on our way to Rome!

CDG AIR FRANCE INTERNATIONAL LOUNGE bathroom: Electric eye automatic flush and mouthwash at the sink'

NEXT: JUST WHERE IS THE SEAT, PETE? ' Restaurant bathroom #1
And our first glorious day in Rome'.

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