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Report 981: The Old Man and Me - In Italy!

By Podie from Florida, Spring 2006

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Page 6 of 10: My Husband Is Going To An Art Museum!

photo by Celeste Rubanick

Pantheon

Even the bright blue skies I could see from my bed weren't enough of an incentive to move on Sunday morning. I had a world class headache and I knew why.

"No more red wine," I mumbled as I wrestled myself into a sitting position on the bed. Rich tore himself away from "watching" Italian TV to ask what the problem was.

"No more red wine!" I said louder. I'm not much of a drinker anymore, having ingested enough alcoholic beverages from ages 15 to 35 to last me the rest of my life.

"I feel great," he said, which really made me feel a lot better (NOT!). But I wanted to have some Bar Farnese time before going to the Galleria Borghese today, so I carefully stood up and proceeded to get ready.

Bar Farnese was a little more expensive than some of the other cafés, but we both liked the view of Piazza Farnese from the outdoor tables. There were always people walking dogs, and more dogs running around on their own, and the little bus number 116 going back and forth, and people hurrying to work, and tourists looking at their maps - never a dull moment. And all so very Italian.

We had our morning fix of Café Americano for Rich and cappuccino for me, along with due cornetti con marmelatta and the International Herald Tribune sold about five steps away. Then, properly fortified, we headed for Largo Argentina to catch a taxi.

It only took five minutes to get to the Borghese gates, and only cost E7.10. I was very glad we hadn't walked it as I'd been considering because it was all uphill from Via del Corso. But now we were 30 minutes early for our 10:30 time to buy tickets.

There were already plenty of strollers and walkers working their way into the park. Rich, whose feet had started hurting him badly yesterday, wanted to sit on a bench in the shade so we watched all the park visitors. This was definitely our hottest day yet, and the shade was nice. This is a beautiful park and I wished we could have spent a lot more time there.

Luckily we decided to go in at 10:15, when there was no line. We walked in and paid E2 each for our reservation fees, as it was culture week and the admission fee was zero. Then we stood back and watched as other tourists showed up and wanted free tickets - without having made reservations. Each one was politely turned away.

"How did you get a ticket?" one American tourist asked me pretty loudly. "You didn't make reservations, did you?" When I told her yes, that I had made reservations a month earlier due to my research, she quieted down. But for a moment there, I feared an ugly moment with a fellow American!

I rented an audio guide for Rich to help keep his interest because he'd probably never looked at a piece of art in his life, but I got it back within three minutes.

It definitely enhanced my appreciation of the sculptures and paintings, but it basically highlighted one object in the room and ignored everything else. Next time I'll have a guide, but I still left with a new appreciation for Bernini's talent.

We left the museum after 90 minutes in search of the balloon ride in the park. The paths and streets were already full of people enjoying this beautiful day. We loved watching the kids ride their bicycles at full speed and narrowly miss other bicyclists, then realized we were watching the training ground of the future drivers of Rome! They were already amazingly adept at avoiding each other.

I found the balloon launch area pretty easily, but unfortunately there was still a "Closed for the season" sign on the gate. This was a real bummer as I was really looking forward to this unique view of Rome. We continued across the park and made our way down the hill and then down the Spanish Steps.

This area has never done much for me so we passed through it quickly, but I remembered recommendations for Enoteca Antica on Via Della Croce so we went there for lunch. We sat outside near an old lady selling note cards and three men selling knock-off purses.

The French couple next to us had to communicate in English since the waitress didn't speak French. I thought that was pretty interesting - the French forced to speak English to be understood! Meanwhile, I plowed through in Italian. Rich and I had salads, lasagne, pizza, and sodas for E44. It was worth every penny just for the atmosphere.

I was determined to find San Crispino gelato on the walk back to our apartment and walked right past it before I realized there was no gelato "cone picture" out front as I'd expected! My mouth watered as I entered the building and took a number.

The most popular flavor, according to my research, is ginger-cinnamon. I was prepared to try that, but only if I didn't see something I thought sounded better. The flavors at San Crispino aren't run of the mill though, and since my father always said to order the house speciality whenever a restaurant HAS a speciality, I asked for the ginger-cinnamon. Rich didn't like the few gelato choices and opted for lemon sorbet.

"Sublime" is the first word that comes to mind when I think of that gelato. Pure cream with strong yet perfectly balanced portions of ginger and cinnamon. Absolutely, positively, the best gelato I have ever tasted.

Rich said his lemon sorbet was good, too.

We stopped at the Internet Point just outside our apartment to check our e-mail. This was a very handy place that only charged E2.50 for 60 minutes of internet time. Then we both fell asleep on our sun-drenched bed, listening to the street sounds of Rome.

Two hours later, we invited Tom and Mary to dinner and went to our little neighborhood ristorante, Arnaldo's. Forgetting my morning chant, I suggested a pitcher of Sangria and it soon arrived in a bowl full of fresh diced fruit. Ambrosia!

Oh, and the food was wonderful again, too. Rich and I had two pastas, two types of veal, two desserts, Sangria and water for E55. Good company and delicious food and Rome! It just doesn't get any better than this!

Luckily, I didn't have far to stumble to get back to the apartment.

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