Friday, December 24, 2010

Random Rome Fun Facts

Back in the U.S. after a quick jaunt through Italy, first to Rome and then Florence. Here are some random observations.

-- "Hunter" is in syndication in Rome. Yes, I mean the old cop show that I watched in the late 1980s and early 1990s. But when I watched the show then, it was *already* in syndication. Now it's moved to Italy? It was on each morning at 8:45 a.m. on the infamous channel 5. I wonder if Fred Dreyer (who plays Hunter on the show) got to approve the voice that serves as his Italian dub? I wonder if he even knows the show is on each day?

-- I really think that Rome is so old that its history conflicts with itself. I mean, take the Pantheon. The building was finished sometime after 100 AD (as in the second century). It was built to be a temple to all the Roman gods, but somehow it has turned into a Catholic church.

-- The city is very old. It's hard to keep perspective on how old certain things really are. I mean, someone tells you the Colosseum was in use for four hundred years, and you think, "That's all?" Today we gripe when a stadium is a couple decades old.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

When in Rome...

Scott and I had been told many times before taking our trip to Rome that it was all about the food.

We are currently at the Marriott Hotel in Rome, starting off a week-long trip that will take us to Italy's capital city as well as Florence.

It really is all about the food. In fact, when you plan your day here, you can't help but plan it around your meals. Today, we are having lunch at a pizza place outside the Vatican that comes highly recommended by my friend Kim. Dinner will likely be back near the Pantheon, where we ate last night. In between those two meals? Well, there is the tour of the Vatican and a trip to the Vatican Museum. But that's just to kill time before we eat again.

Yesterday we expected rain, and luckily the heavy stuff held off for most of the day, until we reached the Trevi Fountain, when the heavens unleashed not only rain, but a nice little thunderstorm in the middle December.

The word for the trip is "expeditious." Our US Air pilot included it in various comments more than a couple times during the long flight from Philiadelphia. The ironic part being that the flight really wasn't very expeditious. We were delayed leaving Boston because of low clouds in Philadelphia. We were delayed on the ground in Phili for a variety of reasons. First, our pilot showed up very late. Second, we were held in line for de-icing (a light dusting of snow gave the plane a confectioners' sugar appearance). Third, there was something about one of the booms on one of the de-icing trucks. Fourth, well I don't remember. I just know that each delay was to take "a couple of minutes," according to Captain Expeditious, but wound up taking so much longer.

We did finally arrive, and day one took us to lunch at a nice Italian cafe near our hotel, dinner near the Pantheon, coffee in Eustachio Plaza, Gelato near Trevi Fountain, and a late-night drink at Harry's Bar. In between... well, we saw the Spanish Steps, Pantheon, Piazza Navona and Trevi Fountain.

Harry's Bar, by the way, had a piano player and piano singer. Scott and I coundn't figure out if she was an ex-Pat or a native Italian, since she sang in both English and Italian. She was quite talented, though.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Nude Photo or Grope?

Last week I got on an airplane for the first time since early October. I do travel quite a bit, but a flight to visit my brother Brett and his wife on turkey day was my first time dealing with new, strict airport security measures.

I thought I was going to have a choice when entering the security line. Option one would be the nude photo-- passing through a body scanner. Option two, if I declined the nude photo, would be to subject myself to a fairly aggressive "pat down."

To my disappointment, most people are not given the choice. The majority of travelers simply go through the metal detector that's always been at the airport. The choice of the nude photo or grope is given only to a select group of travelers identified for additional screening.

By the time I got to the airport, I wanted the additional screening. I had spent the previous week trying to decide if I wanted the nude photo or the grope. Luckily, I was selected.

I decided to go for the nude photo. Except I neglected to take my wallet out of my back pocket. I guess this is a no-no, for the TSA officer soon told me he "had to inspect the area...," meaning the area where my wallet was. Next thing I knew, the agent had his hand on my rear.

So for all my fretting about the nude photo or grope, I ultimately got both. Not a bad Thanksgiving surprise.

P.S. I am traveling again this afternoon. We shall see.

What 2 Watch 4 Today

-- UCONN football plays for a BCS bowl berth tonight in South Florida (ESPN2). If UCONN wins, they are likely headed to the Fiesta Bowl.

-- My high school, NFA, competes in the CIAC Class LL football semifinals this afternoon.

-- For my part, I will be driving a van around my neighborhood all day, delivering garlands as my neighbors decorate Beacon Hill!

Stay warm everyone!