Italy Trip Report

Oct 26th, 2006, 01:49 PM
  #21  
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Okay, my friend corrected me that the London airport was a nightmare. She's the one who had to throw out all of her cosmetic type stuff...I wisked by with no trouble. And it was the airport not the airlines who had the one bag rule. And yes, on the way home she was one of those embarrasing rude Americans yelling something about this is not how it is done in America and we're flying American Airlines home and they yelled it was LONDON airport...and I grabbed her arm and told her to shut-up.
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Oct 26th, 2006, 02:19 PM
  #22  
 
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Really enjoying your trip report islandmom.
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Oct 26th, 2006, 02:29 PM
  #23  
 
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Islandmom, enjoying your report immensely. Love your descriptions!
Burning pomegranite indeed!! More please.
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Oct 27th, 2006, 12:30 AM
  #24  
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Sorry about the grammar...my two year old is always close by.
islandmom is offline  
Oct 27th, 2006, 12:32 PM
  #25  
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Long boring story short- we had some trouble finding how to get to the Sistine Chapel because it turns out they have street signs with color coded calandars of the hours for the museums. We were too late. It seemed like we just ate...but we followed advice from a Fodor's poster and ate at a fixed price spot a few blocks over. Basic and good. My friend was happy there was corn on the salad. The funny thing is when we ate we couldn't hold back our audible moans. This would always amuse the most stuffy of dining neighbors into saying "Bon Appetito" (spelling?). We used this saying more than once also since many places you dine very closely seated to someone else.

We must have been getting cranky and tired at this point because it's somewhat of a blur...think we went back to the hotel and went out to the Spanish Steps...weird experience though we did go to a wine bar from a suggestion here too which was fabulous...funny stories there too...
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Oct 28th, 2006, 12:50 AM
  #26  
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These were the spots-
(After your Vatican tour, get a wonderful Italian meal at La Medusa Restaurant, located on via Vespasiano, 25, just a few blocks from the Vatican. They have two fixed-price menus (9 euros and 13 euros) that include choice of meal (pizza/pasta), salad, beverage and dessert.)

ENOTICA ANTICA, Via Croce 76A (wine bar near the Spanish Steps)

FYI- the Europa calling cards didn't work for reaching Hawaii.

If we didn't have a discount for the Sheraton I would have stayed within the city center for the true feel of Rome.

islandmom is offline  
Oct 28th, 2006, 07:56 PM
  #27  
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Needed to add this missing moment of memory.

From there we took a taxi to the Sistine Chapel entrance. After some confusion we realized we were too late to enter the Vatican Museums. Color-coded calendars are on street signs outside the walls indicating the dates and times each area is open. Ethiopian immigrates also line the walls selling fake purses, tri-pods and toy gadgets. I feel sadness for them as we walk past, my heart going out to their plight, yet am more upset that they present themselves as human litter along all the major sites of Rome. There has to be a better answer. We step over them as we make our way to St. Peters. Itís enormous and yet it isnít. Somehow the popeís speeches on television creates an illusion of miles. Today the area is mostly empty with vacant chairs for thousands in the center of the square. Hundreds or more people wait in line along the walls to enter for what Iím guessing was Mass as the bells were ringing. Maybe it was only a tour. The vastness was meditative. It always disturbs me the amount of money seemingly lavished upon religious monuments. I try to imagine if I were Catholic would I then feel that the large number of statues lining the area and all the grandeur would be necessary. Yet I did travel half-way around the world to witness this area. So itís a debate for another day. The details and history of the area are overwhelming and once again neglected by our limited schedule.

We walk across the street to a gaudy golden gift shop full of religious paraphernalia. Iím being respectful although religious images of any fraction make me uncomfortable because of the recognized power behind them. I feel that each ring, rosary, and Madonna have eyes of gods watching me. Shelly is at the counter buying batteries for her camera as I stroll along the glass studying the statues. One shockingly catches my eye. Let me just say I have no problem with nude statues nor nude male wrestling statues, but my oh my, this wrestler found himself in an upside-down predicament and resorting to drastic measures to win the battle. Thatís all Iím saying. How was this allowed in a shop across from the Vatican?? Is the life-size version inside the Vatican? So Iím trying to nonchalantly get Shellyís attention without being viewed as immature to the sales clerks. Which thatís even more funny because even though the lady behind the counter couldnít speak much English she tells us she loves disco and talks to us for about 25 minutes about where the wild spots up the coast are and how much fun weíll have. She draws a map, address and says for us to meet her there that weekend. Donít believe the other stuffy clerks liked her non-virginal disco-shaking behavior. Such a surreal experiences. We sit along the wall outside where St. Peterís is directly across from us. The religious shops line our back. Junky vendor booths loop the circle like a state fair. Iím staring at this white marble grand authoritative artistic accomplishment of a building contrasting sharply to the deep dark regal faces of struggling men selling junk along itís borders . The imbalance of the world never ceases to amaze me. As we walk along I wonder if the immigrants are they themselves Catholic and if they worship within the walls.
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Oct 28th, 2006, 08:27 PM
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"yet am more upset that they present themselves as human litter along all the major sites of Rome"


Uh, Islandmom-I enjoyed your report until this last segment. I'm sure you don't mean to, (or do you?) but your comments come off to me, at least, as extremely racist. Ethiopians trying to make a living you describe as "human litter" -are you kidding? How about in Hawaii where you live? Do you also refer to all the junky vendors and their "deep dark faces" as "human litter??" Because they're lots of them there too-Sheesh! That's offensive hugely inappropriate, as well as unfair, description.
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Oct 28th, 2006, 08:30 PM
  #29  
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I'm married to a black man so that's not my point.
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Oct 28th, 2006, 08:31 PM
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That doesn't change what you said one bit-you still referred to human beings who are selling things, trying to make a living as "human litter." That's ugly and offensive.
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Oct 28th, 2006, 08:35 PM
  #31  
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That came out wrong...the vendors look like human litter...not because of their color but because of their set-up along the walls. Their color is stunningly beautiful and regal and their plight ugly.
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Oct 28th, 2006, 10:06 PM
  #32  
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I'm sorry...there's no editing feature for the post. I have a pet peeve about vendors here along Diamond Head and North Shore etc. While appreciating people trying to work. The line of separation in Rome is very visual and sad.
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Oct 31st, 2006, 09:09 AM
  #33  
 
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I don't believe that Islandmom's remark was racist at all, because I think she would have felt similarly no matter the race of the vendors. I am sure she has spoken of the vendors a lot more respectfully than the folks who bring them to foreign countries to sell their counterfeit goods.
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Oct 31st, 2006, 09:23 AM
  #34  
 
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I did not interpret islandmom's comments as being racist either. I find that she's commenting solely about the vendors. For example, we were in Florence in 2001 and there were some Africans selling counterfeit handbags. When we returned to Florence a couple of weeks ago we were shocked that the number of these vendors multiplied substantially; they sell other goods besides the handbags also. They line the Uffizi area and when it's evening they are lined up with the handbags along the main shopping streets like the Via dei Calzaiuoli. Besides them there were some Asian women peddling scarves to the people sitting at the cafes in Piazza della Signoria.

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Oct 31st, 2006, 03:34 PM
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Some are going to be racist regardless of how much you protest so just chill out.
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Nov 1st, 2006, 10:18 PM
  #36  
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Here's our very kind (and handsome) driver who even drove us from Rome to Pisa. I hope others will give him business. After the death of his mother he moved home to help his dad run their restuarant then after 9/11 they lost everything even their home. He's trying to make a new business.

+393349849211 -h24

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Nov 2nd, 2006, 12:42 AM
  #37  
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Spanish Steps-

We arrived at the Spanish Steps after 8pm (told this is when the action starts) by Taxi. I must say it was very eerie. All the stores were closed and maybe 30 locals were hanging around. The stores looked like a very chic daytime shopping area. It did not look like a place out-of-towners should find themselves unprepared at night. As soon as we stepped out of the car a man came up and handed Shelly and I several red roses. We kept insisting he take them back because we had city smarts enough to know there was a catch. He was very persistent saying, ďNo, take, you are lucky. They are free. Completely free because you are lucky.Ē We thank him after confirming they were free. Weíre taking photos around the sunken boat fountain when he comes over with his hand out saying, ďYou have to give me something. Give me something. You have to give me something for the flowers.Ē My money was in a lingerie belt with the lowest amount being 50 euros which I could not pull out in the dark in this crowd. We kept telling him, ďNo, we donít have anything, you said they were free. Take them back.Ē Then he got more and more rude and loud and in my face saying, ďGive me something! You have to give me something!Ē OH NO HE DIDNíT! This is where we tell him he is very rude and we NEVER pay for flowers men give us! Heíd better take them back or get nothing. Those flowers were one second from being stomped on the ground. He acted all mad. The crowd was watching. He was mumbling something about us. We decided to get out of there. As we did we passed the flower stand and had to control our need to protest their tactics. Down a dark alley we found the wine bar recommended on this site. I canít remember what we ate which must mean I enjoyed wine for the first time on the trip. Our waiter Gabrielle was a true sweetheart. Shelly is still certain they had a love connection. He was a third her size so I have my doubts. My feeling is Italian wine makes you fall in love over every meal. The only other thing I remember about this night is going to the co-ed bathroom and coming out of the stall blocked in by a handsome soccer player or such who had to teach me how to use the niffy soap fixtures. We had very lovely conversation and he was very attractive. Iím not sure if it was my marriage which made me brush him off or that I would never be able to get passed the fact we met while peeing together.

By then we were too tired to search for a dance club though someone said there might be one on the top of the steps.
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Nov 2nd, 2006, 06:05 AM
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Yeah, you'd have to be pretty vague when telling the "how we met" story.
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Nov 13th, 2006, 01:36 AM
  #39  
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My next tip is to get in line at the Vatican Museums by 7am. We still had a fairly good spot at 7:30 am and I was able to grab two Cokes and rolls to bring back into line. We stood next to a lady from England who was a riot and later we all raced to get inside the turnstalls first. Our plan was to go straight to the Sistine Chapel because we hired a car to take us to lunch outside Rome then on to Pisa for our rental car for a week in Tuscany before our ferry to Sardina. It was a very moving experience. My eyes were swelling with the beauty...then I was swallowed in a crowd...then a lady dropped dead...doctor's rushed to her side...crowds crossing themselves...eerie experience... Oh wait that was Monday...I skipped Sunday. Too hard to remember everything now. Thank goodness for photos! The artwork was amazing and something we must return to study more carefully.
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Apr 3rd, 2007, 09:25 AM
  #40  
 
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Wonderful trip report. Thanks for taking the time to post it.
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