Sunday, June 21, 2009

But Is It a Safe Place to Visit?

Italy is very safe. Your biggest concern is pick-pockets. We found police and military personnel all over no matter what city we were in. Rome certainly had the highest amount of "protection". The Italians are funny about sirens. They love to see what is happening. We were in a shop in Sorrento. I was paying for my purchases and you could hear a police car coming down the street. The shop owner starts saying "police" and he runs to the front door to see what's going on. One morning, Kim and I were eating breakfast at our hotel in Sorrento. Once again, we heard the siren's make their way down the street. The gal who worked at the front desk came running out onto the balcony to see the rescue vehicles. She managed to bring her binoculars with her. I have a lot of things on my desk at work but binoculars isn't one of them.

One day, we were taking the bus thru Rome. We happened to drive by an area that had a lot of reporters and LOTS of police and military personnel. We later found out that the location was the president's house. The G8 meetings were being held in Rome. The ministers for Energy, Justice and Interior were meeting inRome. I've never seen so many Mercedes with drivers/bodyguards? in my life. You always knew something was going big was going on but you didn't know what. On our last day in Rome, there was something going down in our 'hood. Streets were blocked off with military personnel and military helicopters were flying around our location. We got to the street that our hotel was on and the police had our street blocked at both ends. The shop owner next to the hotel told Kim there was violence down the street. We asked the man at the front desk in the hotel. He said it was because of the G8 conference. It's a normal occurance in Italy but Americans have the real violence he said. Well he is right about America being violent because of weapons in the hands of individuals. We saw a couple of irate Italian women screaming and I do mean screaming at the police because they wouldn't let them down the street. We watched this go on for about 10 minutes. Now, in America, you don't scream at the police at the top of your lungs. You get the hell out of their way or you are off to jail.

There were always lots of police in the heavy touristy areas. I can't tell you how many times we asked the police for directions. They are all over the place. I certainly felt that they were doing their job with security issues. Heck, even the Vatican Guards had spears.

Italian Fabric Stores

Talk about textile heaven. Italians love sumptuous fabrics. Silks like you wouldn't believe. I had a goal of shopping in one fabric store. I had seen a couple of stores in Venice but they were closed. Rome was going to be the place for fabric. I had done some pre-trip internet searching. Armed with the location of the textile area (Latin Quarters), we set off for the textile store (Bassetti Tessuti) across town. I was just in awe. Fabric stacked up to the ceiling. I didn't want to take a lot of time because Kim doesn't sew and we needed to hoof it to the Vatican that day. I came home with some bath towels and towel fabric. I wish I could have come home with much more but time and money were lacking. The silks were gorgeous but everything I looked at was about $150 euro/meter or about $200 a meter. Yikes! There was a small corner of bridal laces. Once again, I couldn't find anything less than $150 eu/meter. There were a couple of bridal parties looking at fabrics for dresses. The employees were very patient and helpful. I wish I could have found some fabrics and laces for heirloom sewing but that didn't happen. I am just grateful I had an opportunity to visit such a wonderful store.

Roman Holiday

I love Gregory Peck. My girls love Audrey Hepburn. I think we all have the movie Roman Holiday. Forget all the art and history, forget the Colliseum and the Forum, I really wanted to see some of the movie locations for Roman Holiday. I think we were able to make it to 5 locations. I really regret that I didn't have time to watch the movie before I left for Italy. I can't tell you how I felt standing at the Trevi Fountain in the same spot where Gregory Peck tried to take the camera away from the little girl and she yelled for her teacher. I just stood there and almost started to cry. I got goosebumps thinking about how he stood there so long ago. What a classy man.

One of my favorite stories on this trip was meeting three students from China. We were looking for Gregory Peck's apartment. We found it but it had scaffolding all around it. I'm standing there complaining that it was under construction then this young Chinese man asked if I was looking for "Number 51". I told him I was and I was so disappointed. Kim and I found out that these three "kids" were exchange students in Germany and they had a week off and were spending it in Italy. I said, looking at the girls, "So are you Roman Holiday fans too?" Then one of the girls said "No, he is". This young man had set out to see as many scene locations as possible. He was looking for the Wall of Wishes. I hadn't planned on seeing that because it looked to far from our hotel so I didn't write down the location. I did have the website with me with a map to the locations and he took a picture of the website address. Kim and I were surprised how well these kids spoke English. In fact, one of the gals had absolutely no accent whatsoever. They said that speaking English was a requirement for studying in Germany. We really thought the kids were Americans. I started to talk with the young man while Kim spoke with the girls. I'm like "so are you a Gregory Peck fan too?" He said "No, Audrey Hepburn." I thought that was so cute. Meanwhile, Kim was helping the girls with their Italian. The only word they knew was "Ciao". She wrote down some helpful phrases like "where is the bathroom?" As we were leaving, one of the girls said "Have a nice.....Roman Holiday." I wish I had taken a picture of the kids. They were so cute and so nice. I hope that they do well in life.

The Slice of Life

I'm talking about pizza of course! Pizza varied so much between the regions. Sicily wins the award for the most unusual toppings on pizza. I saw tuna, pumpkin, eggs, shrimp. We had excellent pizza's in Sicily. I think my favorite pizza was in Venice. A huge thick pepperoni pizza. Second place was the sun dried tomato pizza and stuffed pizza in Lentini. Sorry Alberto. I know that you said your favorite place was voted best pizza in the world but I'm liking the pizza in Lentini more.