When in Rome…..

Posted on: 7 April, 06

….develop cat like reflexes to avoid being run over by a manic driver. Granted, their cars conjure images of clown cars, but even a teeny, tiny car is lethal when driven at high speeds over cobblestone streets no wider than a piece of spaghetti. “Leaping out of the way” required a good vertical jump and the ability to cling to the walls like Spiderman. If there is a semblance of a sidewalk, it is crowded with little café tables or street vendors.
Since dh actually knew about this trip more than 30 seconds in advance, the boys and I decided to tag along. They were quite excited at the prospect of setting foot on another continent. We figured it was a good time to travel with them…before they turn into snarky teenagers. When asked about our spring break plans, I must admit it was sinfully fun to say “oh, we will be in Rome.”
The boys are not perfect, but they seem to know when it is time to hold it together. A transatlantic flight definitely qualifies as a time to hold it together. They were fabulous on the flights and schlepping through the airports. They think airline travel would be much better if movies were shown on every flight. This trip reminded me just how much they are growing up, becoming more independent. We quickly learned the boys were much better at figuring out the subway and bus routes than we were. C was not all shy about piecing together bits of Spanish, Italian and charades much to the amusement of the locals. J’s forte was deciphering Italian in the written form.
I am not the traditional tourist. My idea of vacation is warm weather, a pool or ocean, and a stack of books. Seeing a few sites is nice too, but in limited quantities. In this case, the miles of walking were worth it to see Rome through the eyes of my children. They are at an age where they can actually grasp the concept of how amazing the various sites were. It was reassuring to hear the two of them making connections between the things we were seeing and things they have learned in school. Given their vague response to the question “what happened at school today,” it is good to know during the 7 hours of school every day they are not just twiddling their thumbs.
On every one of my vacation itineraries is “shop for fabric.” I had high hopes for Rome. I did not expect a fabric store on every street corner or bargain basement prices. I planned to splurge a little if I found something fabulous. The first store the concierge recommended was all the way across town and sold linens….as in towels, sheets, and duvets. As luck would have it, the woman standing in line behind me at the coliseum was a quilter from Minnesota. She told me of a couple fabric stores she spied while touring the Jewish Ghetto. I was up bright and early the next morning making a beeline for bus 64. There were FOUR fabric stores. Okay, three of them were home dec stores. The fourth one was filled with bolts and bolts of gorgeous fabrics….that cost 80-100 Euro per meter. Yikes! These were very nice fabrics, but that is way beyond splurging for me. I was afraid to even touch this stuff.
I was also hoping for inspiration during a stroll through the ritzy shopping area. Except for the price tag, most of it looked like the stuff I see in Target. The down side to “globalization” is the women in Rome look a whole lot like the women in the US. I saw all the same brands that I see at home. However, I did notice that the women of Rome are in desperate need of a good hair stylist. I have never seen so many bad dye jobs in one city. Deodorant and a batch of nicotine patches would be good too. Apparently, everyone is too busy smoking to bathe on a regular basis. This is not a good mix when everyone is packed on the subway like sardines. We learned to hold our breathe for incredibly long periods of time.
What did I like about Rome? In a word….GELATO. That stuff is wicked good. Let’s not even think about the calories and fat content. The little Smart Cars were also very cute. Of course the art and architecture were amazing. Some truly talented people once walked this earth. It is hard to imagine modern man spending decades building and beautifying a building. Just think of what we might accomplish today if we spent less time on the internet?


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