Italy: Day Three, Tues 3/27/18 (Milan to Rome)
I didn’t sleep so well the night before, I was either too hot or too cold, and my pillow was a little too limp. But I’m sure, as usual, I slept more than I think.
We went down for breakfast. Richard had salami and cheese on a roll and yogurt with fresh prunes and pineapple. I once again had scrambled eggs and little sausages and some sort of cold bread concoction with tomatoes and cheese. Cappuccino x 2. I told Richard that when I finish my Hitchcock film project (I’m working my way through all of the talkies that Hitchcock directed) I’m going to watch all of the Bruce Lee movies. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a whole Bruce Lee movie. Richard is, of course, in complete support of this idea.
We went back to the room and showered and packed. We checked out of the hotel (confirming that we’d be back on Friday), walked to Central Station, and waited for our train to be announced. That’s when I learned that Mina has a new album!
I bought our train tickets online a few weeks before we left. I got us two seats in business class (hardly any more expensive than coach) but was never able to choose our seats, or go back and change them, or even see where they were. So I was most curious (had been curious for the weeks leading up to our trip, actually) to see where our seats were. We had 10D and 11D, which were not side by side or face to face, they were back to back. Or cheek to cheek, if you prefer. Ah well, it’s nice to have a little time apart, no? And strangely enough, the cute, rather dowdy woman facing me was sitting back to back with HER husband.
Richard and I ate our leftover pizza from the days before, it was fantastic. Nothing like delicious cold pizza, right? I read more of *War Paint,* a double biography of two makeup magnates from the twenties through the sixties, Elizabeth Arden and Helena Rubenstein. This book was the basis for the recent Broadway musical, which I saw twice. The book is MUCH better than the show.
We got to Rome, took an Uber to our hotel, unpacked a little bit, and walked over to catch the Hop On/Hop Off bus. We’d bought a 48-hour pass, which included admission to the Vatican Museum and the Colosseum. That first day we did one complete loop of the tour, to situate ourselves and get a sense of what we wanted to do.
We had a dinner date that night with a friend/client of Richard’s named Maurizio. Our date was set for 7:30 but he wrote at 7:20 to say that he’d be fifteen or twenty minutes late. Let me preface this story by saying that I get a little cranky when I’m not fed and we hadn’t eaten since noon.
7:45: Richard and I went downstairs and stood outside the hotel.
7:55: Maurizio sent a text, saying he was on our street.
8:00: Mauricio left an indecipherable message on Richard’s voice mail, Richard texted him and asked what he had said.
8:10: Maurizio showed up, we got in his car and started driving around looking for a parking space.
8:35: We found a parking space and walked down the street and across the bridge to Travestere, the neighborhood where we were eating dinner.
8:50: We walked around Travestere, Maurizio trying to decide where we should eat. We passed about fifty places, and about three hundred pan-European youngsters smoking with great fervor.
9:05: Maurizio settled on Carlo Menta. We put our names in for a table. I looked at the menu and mentioned to Richard, “Oh look, they have a prix fixe.” Maurizio heard that and said, “Oh no, you’re not getting that.”
9:20: We got a table. It felt so good to sit down. Richard told me what he was thinking of for his courses, and I told him sotto voce that Maurizio had told me we weren’t going to order the prix fixe. Right on cue, he started telling us what we were going to order. He took some input from us but mostly did it himself. Which I guess is what you want from a local expert, right?
9:35: The first round of food arrived - - I was happy it came so quickly and even happier to be eating. We had three starters: the seafood salad (without the shrimp, since I’m allergic), anchovies in cream, and fried eggplant with roasted red peppers. All of it incredible.
9:45: Our pizza arrived, slices of mozzarella and strips of prosciutto on a thin, crispy crust. Fabulous.
10:00: Our main courses arrived. Maurizio had penne in a creamy gorgonzola sauce. He gave me a taste, and it was interesting and flavorful, but I wouldn’t want a whole plate of it. Richard had spaghetti in cacio e pepe, spaghetti with grated cheese and black pepper. I had the spaghetti carbonara, which was nothing like the carbonara I’d had in the states - - it wasn’t in a creamy sauce, the noodles were an eggy yellow, from the eggs. The bacon was crispy and spicy. Best carbonara ever.
Maurizio told us that he had expected this place to be a little more “ignorante,” and explained that in Italian, that word doesn’t really mean “ignorant” - - it means something closer to “basic,” “ugly,” or “rustic.” I loved it, I thought t was cute.
MAURIZIO: How about I take you on a tour of Rome and then we go somewhere for a drink and dessert?
RICHARD: That sounds wonderful!
10:50: Maurizio picked up the check. Which was very kind and generous. We started walking back to the car.
11:10: We got back to the car. Maurizio showed us many of the sights we had seen earlier, only this time in the dark.
11:25: We arrived at the restaurant of Maurizio’s great niece. The two of them each had a glass of port, I had a glass of juice - - I don’t remember what kind of juice it was, but it was fresh, frothy, and delicious. Maurizio had a plate of cookies, Richard and I shared some profiteroles and tiramisu.
12:05: Richard said, “We should get this boy home. I can tell he’s starting to fade.”
12:20: Maurizio again paid the check. I tried to pay, but he wouldn’t let me. We walked back to our hotel, we were right around the corner.
12:30: We got to bed and I was probably unconscious in five minutes.