On Amy’s first trip to Italy she arrived full of charts and presentations and all kinds of business propaganda. On her first day Antonio, the head of the Rome office told her, “In Italy…numbers are optional”. That pretty much sums up the whole Italian way of life.
After that whole Rise and Fall fiasco the Romans said “To heck with this empire thing…lets party”. So, as our cab driver told us with a smile, “We are a nation with lots of, how you say…laws. But no one obeys them! Sometimes it is safer to go on the red light ”
As he proceeded to blow through an intersection.
Italy uses the metric system. What that means is the cab fare from the airport is regulated unless you are a tourist. Which means, the fare really is what he needs to spend on his mistress tonight and the meter doesn’t work and he doesn’t know why your credit card won’t work but there is an ATM down the block and yes he will take dollars on the unofficial exchange rate…
The beauty of this is the ATM is inside a Gelato store with the most amazing display of candies and ice cream offered up by two to three absolutely beautiful young ladies…
I think you get the picture.
In Rome, people live in tiny apartments and drive tiny little cars or scooters so they can spend their money on fabulous clothes and wonderful restaurants.
On our last day we decided to join the spending crowd and go shopping. There was a really nice jewelry shop that Amy has bought a lot of things in at the top of the Spanish Steps. They had a second shop…ummm somewhere else. We (well, not really me) decided to check it out.
Without the aid of the above map, GPS or common sense we struck out.
The line that circles out to the right is the cab route. It shows the maximum amount of meter padding they can legally do. The straight line to the left is the bus route. Considering the trouble with cabs I wasn’t about to try public transportation. I didn’t know if we were suppose to bribe the driver with gelato, vino, or a date with my sister-in-law. We decided to brave the gauntlet and just start walking the dotted blue line.
I might note here, there was no dotted blue line painted on the street. We had only my dusty Boy Scout tracking skills and a crummy “Best Pasta in Rome” map.
The route combined as many twists and turns as the Mr. Toad ride in Disneyland with an amazing number of unmarked streets. We finally arrived in a square by a big church. It was also a dead end. I saw a young priest and figured he might be my best shot at getting a straight answer about where we were. He looked about 20 years old – it was a little weird calling a kid Father, but anyway, I asked, “Do you speak English?”
He said “Sure!” in bright Americanese.
I asked where he was from, “Patterson, New Jersey”
Swell…he had no friggin’ idea where Via della Dataria was. He did send us back in the right direction and we stumbled upon the tiny, and I mean tiny, shop.
You could see the entire inventory by turning around once in the middle of the
closet store so naturally it only took Amy 45 minutes to find something.
Retracing our route, we pushed our way through a crown of people in front of a construction site. This was the Trevi Fountain.
The flag holders droned on to their charges with their prepared scripts like there wasn’t a scaffold in sight. I guess this is how people feel when they visit New York and the Statue of Liberty is closed. Our return was pretty easy and we only had to fend off a few of the souvenir men.
We dined in a street side cafe, the waiter’s name was Al…Al Fresco.
Sorry – another bad joke I’ve wanted to use
As the sun set and we were serenaded by the small group of Hari Krishners across the Plaza.
It began to lightly rain.
The rain washed away the tracks of a thousand flip flops.
The city was clean again…
Damn…that was poetic!