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Rome For The Holidays: MaitaiTom's Eternal City Escapades & Christmas Caper

Rome For The Holidays: MaitaiTom's Eternal City Escapades & Christmas Caper

Old Jan 7th, 2010, 06:41 AM
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cmcfong - over near Winston Salem? I had to look that up on google maps, lol! I live near Research Triangle. Here, when zabaione has appeared on menus, it's turned out to be some kind of cold, custardy cake, not at all the warm, delicate foam I was expecting!
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Old Jan 7th, 2010, 06:43 AM
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Tom, your name is high on the list of Fodorites who should be writing books if not doing so already!
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Old Jan 7th, 2010, 06:47 AM
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<B>Act IV: Car On Poo Corner, Rome’s Obligatory (And Not My Favorite) Tourist Stops, Riding On The Metro Again, The Pope Store, Bread Winner, Grumpy Old People, Will It Snow, Majestic Mosaics, The Medusa Salad and A Heated Discussion </B>

Tracy and I woke to find that, thanks to the Antarctic room temperature of the previous night, we had not aged one minute in the past seven hours. I had tried to find the heat controls during the first minutes of sub-freezing temperatures the previous evening, but decided to get under the covers before the first sign of frostbite appeared.

In the morning, I found the controls that were located high up on one of the walls. I told Tracy that I would now be able to control the room temperature when we went to bed from now on.

The rain had disappeared, and we were greeted with blue, sunny skies so we decided to forego more museums and take a leisurely stroll through Rome and enjoy the sunshine, forgetting for the moment our sore, aching feet.

The breakfast room at The Hotel San Francesco on Sunday morning was nearly full, and we grabbed the last table. Extra cappuccinos and tea were in order to help our bodies climb back to their full body temperature.

We walked down the Viale Trastevere to the bridge crossing the Tiber that we had navigated on numerous occasions. Lining the street that runs parallel to the river are numerous trees where each evening it sounded like a million birds were having a huge party. Tracy had thought it was the sound of electricity, while I was pretty sure it was birds.

“Let’s walk along the river for a little bit,” I said to Tracy on this beautiful morning. As we turned to the left to walk along the Tiber, one fact became quite evident, the trees certainly contained birds. No matter what color the cars actually were in reality, every car parked alongside the Tiber had a familiar white look. Yes, we were walking along the bird poo capital of the world. Quickly Tracy and I jaywalked to the other side of the street. Unfortunately for my wife, one of the feathered fiends dropped a bomb on her hair and coat. I, of course, laughed, but as I am sure you know, it would not be the last laugh.

As we strolled toward our first destination of the day, I told Tracy that even though my feet were tired, “at least I haven’t taken a tumble in my last couple of trips to Europe.” We passed through the flea market (aka The Piazza Navona) and past the Pantheon on our way to the Fontana di Trevi (Trevi Fountain).

I must admit we have never been huge fans of this Roman landmark. The fountain is undeniably beautiful, but no matter what time of the day we have visited, it is filled to the brim with people who seem like they have nothing better to do than hang around a fountain for hours at a time. At least, fairly early on a Sunday morning, the crowds were not overwhelming. That said, I did use this photo opportunity to take my requisite shots, and we moved on to the next place where crowds gather incessantly at all hours.

The Scalinata della Trinità dei Monti (Spanish Steps) makes the Trevi Fountain area look desolate. Even early on a Sunday morning, the place was packed with people, 75 percent of them smoking cigarettes (I will comment on Rome and smoking later in the trip report). I thought it was hazy looking up the steps toward the Trinitá dei Monti, but realized that we were just being inundated with second hand smoke. Before we contracted lung cancer, we decided it was time to move on.

We had not taken public transportation up to this point, so this started our three free days with the pass you receive when you buy the Roma Pass (validated at the first trip you take) by taking the metro to the stop nearest St. Peter’s Square. The Vatican area was bustling, and St. Peter’s glistened as we arrived in the square after the ten-minute walk from the Metro. The line to get into St. Peter’s was huge (well it was Sunday) and since we would be back in the area in a few days (when our Vatican Museum tour was scheduled), we just took in the surroundings and took some pictures in the sunshine.

There was a giant Christmas tree in the square next to an area that was under a large tarp (we assumed that had to be a giant Nativity Scene that would be uncovered for the Christmas Eve services). We meandered over to a place that sells gifts blessed by the Pontiff that we dubbed “The Pope Store” on our last trip.

I almost bought some golf balls blessed by the pope, however not even divine intervention can help my golf game. We also looked for an engagement gift. Our friends, Kim and Mary (who often travel with us) had decided to skip this trip. Obviously, it was for a reason (besides having to spend eight days with me), because the previous evening we had received an email from them telling us their son had become engaged.

We got back on the metro and headed to the Flaminio stop and the Piazza Popolo. Being such a gorgeous day, we decided to take a little stroll down the main shopping drag, the Via del Corso. We had seen a story on CNN that shopping was slow in Rome. Obviously, they forgot to focus their cameras on this street. Today, and every day were near here, Romans were opening their wallets in search of the perfect Christmas gift.

We ducked in to a couple of churches and on one of the side streets bought some mini-risottos for gifts. The risotto reminded us that we were hungry (not that we usually needed a reminder). We thought we’d try Enoteca Cul de Sac again, but there was an hour wait. Nearby was a restaurant, Paquino, where we had the best garlic bread ever in 2005.

We barely beat the after-church crowd. Up until this point, the bread we had eaten in Rome had been about as tasty as cardboard, however since we both have serious bread addiction, we ate it anyway (although they charge extra for it at most places).

Pasquino lived up to its past billing when it came to its bruschetta. Both the bruschetta pomodoro and bruschetta Bianca (bread brushed with olio and garlic then toasted in a pizza oven) were tremendous. Tracy’s lunch of Tagliatelle with Chicory, Rosemary and Pecorino was nice and spicy, the first dish we had eaten that had a nice amount of spices added. I certainly could not complain about my delicious Gorgonzola Risotto with Walnuts. Complementing (and I use that word loosely) our lunch was a carafe of della cassa rosso, which was cold, not very good and tasted like alcoholic grape juice.

Sitting nearby were a couple of groups of old people. Well, I assumed they were old people, but the way people smoked in this town they might have only been in their mid-30s. In any event, if looks could kill, they would have all been dead. Like so many other Romans we had witnessed, they were a dour looking group that never smiled and never talked amongst one another. They did, however, eat their personal (huge) pizzas faster than any other humans on earth.

Finally, they and some other grumpy people left and a few families with kids came in and the place livened up with smiles and laughing taking over for what had been a Christmas negativity scene.

The next place on the day’s agenda was not in close proximity, so we piled in a taxi and took a death-defying ride through Roman traffic to the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore. People on vespas and motorcycles along with pedestrians of all creeds and colors never knew how close they were to imminent death as our cab weaved his way up to the church.

Santa Maria Maggiore was built on the spot where (as the story goes), in August of 352 AD, the Virgin Mary supposedly made a cameo appearance and told the Pope it would snow despite the heat. It seems she wished for a church to be built on this spot. Sure enough, a patch of snow was found the next day. Although it seemed cold enough to snow on this day, we were out of luck.

Tracy and I were quite impressed by the Basilica that contains a piece of the original nativity scene. There are also beautiful mosaics and a ceiling “gilded with gold.” I believe the church we read somewhere that the church also contained Bernini’s tomb, but we never found it.

Our next stop was a 15-minute straight shot down the street from the Santa Maria Maggiore. We thought the neighborhood we walked through was quite charming. This was a tree-lined street (criss-crossed with Christmas lights) that was much nicer than the tree-lined avenue we had seen hours before along the Tiber.

The Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano was originally built in the 300s by Constantine (well, I’m sure he had others build it), and had gone through a number of renovations, but still is quite an imposing church. There is a statue of Constantine and in the canopy over the altar are silver statues of Saints Peter and Paul that may or may not contain pieces of their heads. It’s always amazing to me the amount of body parts spread over this part of the world.

Next, we went across the street to a very holy place, the Santuario della Scala Santa (Palace of the Holy Stairs). These are supposedly the stairs that Christ climbed on the day he was brought before Pontius Pilate. There were a number of pilgrims who were climbing the 28 stairs on their knees. It was quite a sight.

We doubled back toward Santa Maria Maggiore because we had missed a church on the way because it was closed, but was now open. The Santa Pressede also had some great mosaics (put in a coin to illuminate them better), but by now we were once again churched-out (a common malady at the end of the day).

I was very excited about our dinner choice for this evening because of the many fantastic comments I read about it. It was also in our “hood,” so we didn’t have a long walk. I had read such rave reviews as “Da Fabrizio is the best restaurant in Rome.” “The lamb chops are so hot they’ll burn your lips off.”

To be as European as possible, we made our reservations at 8:30. As usual, we were ready to eat by 7:30. We walked through Trastevere, and the back streets were very colorful. By 8:25 we had malingered as long as anyone could malinger, and we walked inside what looked like a real neighborhood joint.

We sat down next to two German guys trying to decipher the menu. It was all in Italian, and this gave me the opportunity to do what I do on every European trip; order something off a menu that is completely foreign to me (both in print and reality). Sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn’t (like the time in Normandy when it looked like my brains were handed to me on a plate).

I made the bold choice of having a dish called “Puntarelle something or other.” The waiter pointed at something across the room and said, “Good choice.” Figuring he was not pointing at the woman in the corner, I said, Si.” I believe I might now discontinue my tradition.

Soon, staring me in the face was a salad with Medusa-like tentacles of green taunting me with a few dollops of an unknown substance. “Isn’t this the statue I saw at the Capitoline Museum?” I asked Tracy, who for some reason was now laughing at me.

The unknown substance turned out to be anchovies, and although we enjoyed the zucchini blossoms with anchovies earlier in this trip, these anchovies actually tasted like, well, anchovies. I hoped my main course would be better.

Since my lamb chops had been so bad a few nights earlier, I opted for the lamb chops at Da Fabrizio that reviewers promised “would burn your lips off.” Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Obviously lambs in Rome are not fed very well, because for the second time in three nights my dish was full of chops, but virtually no lamb. I’m all for portion control, but this was ridiculous.

Tracy’s dishes of a potato soup and then pasta in a red pepper sauce were nothing to write home about either, so Da Fabrizio up to this point was incredibly disappointing. Thank heaven for the relatively inexpensive bottle of Azienda Agricole 2007 Petit Verdot.

Now, without going into too much detail, sometimes my dates in my single years started off pretty badly, yet the night turned out to be really good (please use your imagination because Tracy sometimes reads these trips reports). Tonight was one of those dates. On the dessert menu was my new love, Zabaione. Could it save the evening?

This Zabaione had a completely different texture from the one the previous evening, yet it satisfied me in a unique way that made me…please, remember this a family website.

This Zabaione was reminiscent of a Crème Anglaise, but added to this delicious portion of calories was an abundance of fresh, ripe strawberries. I savored each and every bite, and I believe Tracy was actually jealous of my new love until I gave her a taste. She also succumbed to its infinite charms. Within minutes, the Medusa salad was only a distant memory and the lamb chops…well the lamb chops still sucked, but I was happy.

As we walked back to the hotel, I started coughing. At the time, I thought it was only the three or four packs of smoke I had been forced to inhale throughout the day.

Back in our room, I told Tracy I would put the heater on so we wouldn’t freeze like we had the previous evening. There was one small problem with the thermostat I had discovered that morning. I couldn’t really tell what temperature I was setting it at, but I thought I had deftly moved the dial gently to a temperature that would make us comfortable as we slept through the night.

At about 2 a.m., we both awoke at about the same time. One reason was my constant hacking that had now gone way beyond smoker’s cough. The other reason; the temperature in the room had risen to what I’m sure the Sahara desert feels like in the dead of summer. “Don’t worry, I’ll figure out the thermostat before we leave,” I whispered (and coughed) to Tracy. At least, long underwear and socks were not needed.

We had talked about going to Orvieto on Monday, but since I wasn’t feeling so hot (figuratively, not literally) and there was still a lot to be seen in Rome, we concluded that Orvieto could wait for another trip. That turned out to be the best decision of our trip. Yet, as good as that choice turned out to be, Monday would also provide a Tom faux pas that could have proved disastrous (although in hindsight is pretty hilarious) and another magic drug that ultimately saved the vacation.

<B>Coming Up: The Invisible Villa, Sheer Ecstasy, Purple Reigns, Finding An Old Friend, Revenge Of The Poo, Down Goes Frazier, Shutting It Down For The Day, Pass The Pringles & Panettone Please and The Magic Elixer </B>
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Old Jan 7th, 2010, 06:53 AM
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I am so enjoying your report, Tom. I sit here laughing aloud at your puns and wishing that someone were here (other than the cat) with whom I could share these jewels of writing.

Many thanks!
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Old Jan 7th, 2010, 07:54 AM
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I had a fly-by pigeon poop IN my glass of vino while sitting on a table outside the nice little bar in front of Santa Maria della Pace. The splatter was minimal so I thought it was hilarious. The waitress was horrified.
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Old Jan 7th, 2010, 08:10 AM
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Tom, I couldn't help but catch the "Pass the Pringles and Panettone" part of your teaser.

This immediately brought to mind my very first trip out of the US of A.

I was on a trip to Ireland with my then-16-yr-old daughter and her H.S. band. We discovered relatively quickly why Irish cuisine is not really world-famous.

After 8 mornings of eating (not eating, in the case of my daughter) a "group breakfast" and the ubiquitous (water-thin) "vegetable soup", my daughter had lost 7 lbs. Trust me when I tell you, she couldn't afford to lose any.

So, on the 8th day (God created... no, wait) we ended up in Limerick and at a mini-mall. The band director gave us an hour to "cruise the mall". Fortunately, the Irish have grocery stores and butcher shops in their malls.

I will never forget my daughter's first words in the middle of this grocery store... "Thank God! Real food! Look- Pringles!"

hahaha (I must confess she also bought bananas, as fruit seemed a rarity at meals also.)

Looking forward to the next installation...
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Old Jan 7th, 2010, 11:00 AM
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"Tom, I couldn't help but catch the "Pass the Pringles and Panettone" part of your teaser."

sarge, yes, this will be the first day of any trip report, I believe, that will include the three P's - "Poo, Panettone and Pringles."

marigross, a little pigeon poop might have helped my house wine


irishface - at my house, the cats are the ONLY ones that laugh at my puns

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Old Jan 7th, 2010, 01:10 PM
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"our lunch was a carafe of della cassa rosso, which was cold, not very good and tasted like alcoholic grape juice...."

My kind of wine! May be why DH and I like Italy so much! Great read!
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Old Jan 7th, 2010, 04:13 PM
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<B>Intermission: Thoughts About The Hotel San Francesco </B>

After taking this trip, I am kind of changing my philosophy about hotels where we stay, although that should not be a direct reflection upon the Hotel San Francesco in Trastevere.

The hotel was only 72 euros a night, which in Rome is more than a bargain. It was clean, the breakfast (and the breakfast room) was fantastic and it was quiet at night. The location in Trastevere is fine (next to a monastery) and if you don’t mind a good walk, Rome’s major venues are within striking distance. The closest metro is about a 25 minute walk, but there are tram and bus connections nearby, and you can always take a taxi.

There is free Internet in a small room off the lobby. They have a different code each day that guests can use to log on.

The people working the desk are cordial, but not overly helpful or friendly. They will call and get you a dinner reservation, although, as you will see later in my trip report, I think they screwed that up one evening, although everything turned out ok. They will also arrange your transporation to and from the airport that is very convenient.

Here is my thought about my change in philosophy. This is my 15th trip to the European continent (yes, I am a lucky guy), and on previous trips we have always joked about the various bathrooms we have encountered. It has been a running joke on what type of shower we receive and how we can contort our bodies to fit the various types of showers we have had.

At 57+ years balance becomes a little more of an issue (and not just after a bottle of wine). It was a little difficult navigating in and out of the tub/shower at the Hotel San Francesco and to say it was slippery is an understatement. Even the young Tracy (I married well) felt a little unstable at times. I think in the future I am going to have to put more of an emphasis of finding hotels that have showers that don’t have “broken bones” written on them.

As for the Hotel San Francesco, if you are on a budget or just don’t feel like spending a lot for a hotel, I certainly give it a thumbs up.

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Old Jan 7th, 2010, 04:35 PM
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I have seen your blogs of your other trips and I am shocked (shocked!!!) that you are 57, though not surprised that Tracy is much, much younger.

For what it's worth, I went to Rome last year with my mom, aunt and cousin, left Dec. 26 came back the 4th or something. My mother loves Rome and had only been there once before. She was sick by Day 2, had pink-eye on top of her terrible cold by Day 4, and only went out to dinner with us 3 times. I felt really terrible for her. And now I'm starting to worry about you and Tracy.

Waiting anxiously for the Hollywood ending!
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Old Jan 7th, 2010, 05:45 PM
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Tom, you had me laughing out loud at the Medusa salad. So what WAS it (besides anchovies)? I had a belgian waffle bird bomb incident once when I lived near South Coast Plaza. They did replace my waffle...
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Old Jan 7th, 2010, 06:12 PM
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"So what WAS it (besides anchovies)?"

It looked like a green Calamari (on meth). We think it might have been a wild Chicory. I believe my face did turn to stone, if only for a moment.

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Old Jan 7th, 2010, 06:12 PM
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Puntarelle is a type of chicory. For the salad, just the stalks are used. Served with anchovy dressing, it is a standard Roman dish. This link shows a reasonable picture.

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Old Jan 7th, 2010, 06:46 PM
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Great report- I miss Rome.
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Old Jan 8th, 2010, 06:21 AM
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I also had a puntarelle salad in Rome. My salad was a crunchy delicious pile of ringlets.
I miss Rome too.
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Old Jan 8th, 2010, 06:53 AM
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<B>Act V: The Invisible Villa, Sheer Ecstasy, Purple Reigns, Finding An Old Friend, Revenge Of The Poo, Down Goes Frazier, Shutting It Down For The Day, Pass The Pringles & Panettone Please and The Magic Elixir </B>

Orvieto was out, and a nasty, hacking cough was in. I sucked down some cough drops so people munching their breakfast did not fear getting a case of Swine Flu.

Tracy and I strolled through Trastevere in search of our day’s first quest, the Villa Farnesina, a Renaissance villa built in the early 1500s and belonging once to one of the richest men in Europe, Agostino Chigi. It was rumored that at his lavish dinner parties, he would order his guests to throw silver and gold plates into the Tiber River. However, he wasn’t a complete spendthrift. Chigi had put nets underwater so he was assured of never losing his dinnerware.

Finding the villa turned out to be harder than finding his plates. We kept walking by where we thought the villa should be, but there was no sign. However, a friendly local pointed us in the right direction and through the open gate we went to the villa. The price tag to view the four rooms (only three on this day) was 5€. It was a nice 30-minute diversion, the rooms were very colorful (one room was painted by Raphael and his crew) and soon we were on our way to our next destination.

We hopped in a taxi to go see Tom Hanks. Well, we had just seen Angels and Demons (not as bad as everybody said it was, by the way), and we were on our way to Santa Maria della Vittoria and another Bernini masterpiece (man, did this guy ever get to sleep?), the Ecstasy Of St. Teresa. Although “churched-out” yesterday, we still had some of the biggies left to see before departing Rome, so there would be no losing my religion today.

The statue of the angel that stabs Teresa’s heart with a golden shaft is quite something to behold, although I liked it more than Tracy. Across the street was the Santa Susanna Church, which is sometimes used for papal visits.

I was beginning to cough even more by now, so we left before the nuns told me to be quiet. We strolled down a lovely street with orange trees on our way to the Barberini metro station and ducked into a Pharmacia. We bought some cough syrup that I was sure would be useless, and tucked it into our daypack.

As we got close to the Metro station, I said to Tracy, “Isn’t this near where we had that great meal on our last night in 2001?”

“Yes,” she answered. “I think it is off of a nearby alley.”

Sure enough, we hadn’t killed as many brain cells as we had thought in the past eight years, because within five minutes we were standing at the entrance of Colline Emiliane, where in 2001 Kim, Mary, Tracy and I celebrated our last night in Italy with one of our favorite meals. As we stood outside the restaurant, a very nice man came out from a little produce stall to tell us that Colline Emiliane was closed today, but would reopen Tuesday and Wednesday for lunch and dinner before taking off for the holiday. We decided that we would return on Tuesday to see if the restaurant was as good as we had remembered.

At that moment, the skies opened up so we ducked into a nearby store that had lots of goodies. They must have known our M.O., because they offered us samples of a limoncello cream and meloncello cream liquor. That was better than any cough syrup and also encouraged us to dip into our wallets for a small buying spree.

We bought a couple of mini panettones, a bottle of olive oil, and, of course, a couple of small bottles of the aforementioned potent potables. These were all supposed to be presents for friends upon our arrival back home. Are you taking odds yet?

Soon we were back on the Via del Corso and something struck Tracy (a thought, not an Italian). “Have you noticed,” she said, “that nearly every clothing store has a preponderance of purple in their windows?”

While I pondered the use of preponderance, Tracy pointed at the myriad of colored scarves, sweaters and ties in many windows, and lo and behold, they all seemed to contain the color purple. Yes, I know I could have said to Tracy, “This is such an Oprah Winfrey moment,” but that would have been…oh wait, that’s exactly what I said. For the rest of the trip, I couldn’t help notice all the purple worn in Rome.

As we walked down one of the narrow corridors off the Via del Corso, Tracy got sucked in by a street vendor; a very nice lady who was selling watercolors. Obviously, the limoncello/meloncello combo was still in effect, and we bought a small painting of The Spanish Steps (they look a lot better in watercolor, with flowers blooming near the steps and without carcinogens flying into the air).

I was feeling kind of run down, but the thought of lasagna at Cul de Sac brought me back to life. It was quiet on this Monday afternoon, and my lasagna was terrific. Tracy’s onion soup and Insalata Mista with “fabulous olio dressing” was also a hit. We had some Rossi de Montefalco Lungarotti to go with the meal.

I wasn’t really still hungry, but then I saw something on the menu that looked vaguely familiar. “Excuse me,” I said to the waiter. “What is Sambayon?”

“Oh, that is Zabaione. It’s a.” That’s all he had to say. Soon, I was enjoying my third incarnation of Zabaoine, this time in ice cream form. As I sat there savoring every bite of this delectable dessert, I was unaware that within minutes I would be in danger.

Over the Tiber we walked, ostensibly to head back to the hotel and drop off the “groceries” that we had purchased before heading back out. It looked like it had rained pretty heavily in Trastevere, although at the moment it was just a fine mist. As we walked on the Viale Trastevere, we came upon a tourist kiosk that was selling Roma Passes. Since we had three more days and the Borghese was on our agenda for the following day, I went in to pick up two as Tracy waited on the sidewalk.

Picking up my pace, I was nearly back by her side when the world suddenly went upside down. Faster than you can say “Old man Maitai,” I took a swift and rather violent tumble on the very slick (and as it turned out), incredibly hard pavement.

Most normal people in this situation might utter simple words like, “Ow” or even “Damnit.” As we all know by now, normal does not define me. Sprawled out like a chalk outline on the streets of Trastevere, I started yelling, “Down Goes Frazier! Down Goes Frazier.” Tracy, not being a sports fan, had no idea what I meant, but she did have a comment for me.

“Tom, you’re full of crap,” she said. Now, she is not the first person to ever verbalize that thought in my presence, but I will admit she is the first one to use it in the literal sense, because in an almost surreal Alfred Hitchcock meets Mel Brooks moment, I had slipped in a massive drop zone of bird poo.

Quickly (or as quickly as a 57-year old klutz can), I stood up. The left side of my body looked suspiciously like the car I had photographed along the Tiber the previous day. I was, for lack of a better term, a poo depository.

Tracy used an entire pack of “Handy Wipes” to make me presentable enough to show my face in the hotel lobby. Of course, the caked-on bird poo sticking to my pants and overcoat were a dead giveaway that something was just not quite right.

By the time I had gimped back to the hotel, it was about 4 o’clock. I was feeling tired, my left wrist was banged up and now my swine flu cough was accompanied by bird flu poo. We decided to take it easy for the remainder of the afternoon, but I was concerned that I was getting really sick, because the cough seemed to becoming persistently worse. That would not have been good thing, because we had three full days left.

After talking it over, at about 6 p.m. we decided to remain inside on this rainy evening and get a lot of rest to see if I could defeat whatever bug was trying to ruin our trip.

Although exhausted, we were by this time now also hungry. This impromptu dinner didn’t turn out to be our best meal in Rome, but it did give me more nourishment than my two lamb chop dinners combined. First, Tracy peered inside the mini bar to see what they had to eat. “Looks like a can of Pringles is all they have,” Tracy said.

“Perfect,” I answered. “Let’s eat those, and then we can open the panettones for dessert.” The orange/chocoloate and pear/chocolate panettones made for a nice combination with a small glass of meloncello. Zagat does not have a rating for this meal, however.

So as we laid in bed and watched Romania’s Nicolae Ceauşescu get executed for the sixth time this week on CNN (it was the 20th anniversary of the overthrow of the Communists), I decided I would try some of the cough syrup I had bought earlier in the day. Since cough syrups are usually useless, I at least hoped it would make me sleep peacefully for some of the night.

I opened up the bottle of Brochenolo Tosse (the name sounded like one of Clint Eastwood’s co-stars in those old Spaghetti westerns). Not being able to understand the directions, I took a large swig.

“Do you think that was a smart idea to take cough medicine after drinking melon liqueur?” Tracy asked.

Knowing we had trip insurance, which I believe provides free transportation for the body to be flown back to the United States, I told Tracy not to worry.

By 8 p.m., I was dead to the world (not really dead or you wouldn’t be reading this). Tracy followed suit soon after. In the middle of the night, I woke up and only had a semblance of the cough I’d had earlier. I took a small sip of the “magic elixir” and laid back down hoping that we could be back on a full schedule the next day, because we had reservations at one of our favorite museums in the morning.

<B>Coming Up: Cough Cured, Tiber Treasure, Hold The Bacon, Turned Into A Tree, Lunch With The Family, Outside The Walls, Under The Church and Reconciling With Panna Cotta </B>
maitaitom is online now  
Old Jan 8th, 2010, 08:41 AM
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Oh, what a relief. I saw pneumonia written all over. Did the magic elixir contain codeine?
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Old Jan 8th, 2010, 09:20 AM
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On our first Rome visit, our waiter wouldn't let DH order a rocket salad! "You won't like it!"

Wonder if he would have allowed the punterelle...

More than one Bernini "ecstasy" in Rome BTW. But the one you saw is the most flamboyant, eh?
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Old Jan 8th, 2010, 09:30 AM
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I guess since I fell not too long after seeing it, one of my titles should have been "The Ecstasy and The Agony."

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Old Jan 8th, 2010, 09:48 AM
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Wow, can't believe in all your travels you had never encountered Zabaoine, it's quite popular in Italian restaurants in NY. My favorite way is when they spoon it over those strawberries, at least you feel like you're having some kind of healthy dessert

Again, very much enjoying this read.
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