May 4 -16
May 17-Jun 1
June 2-9
June 10-19
June 20-30
July 1-9
July 9-18
July 19-28
Jul 29-Aug 11
Aug 11-24
Aug 25-Sep 12
Sep 13-27
Sep 27-Oct 18
Oct 18-30
Oct 3-Nov 10
Nov 11-16
Nov 17-Dec 1
Dec 2-7
Dec 8-14
Dec 15-20
Dec 21-24
Dec 25-Jan 1
Jan 2-7
Jan 8-15
Jan 16-21
Jan 22-25
Jan 26-Feb 3
Feb 4-11
Feb 12-16
Feb 17-23
Feb 24-Mar 7
Mar 8-14
Mar 14-21
Mar 21-27

  Day 59, Sat, July 1 – Awoke thinking about last night.  It’s amazing what a simple message it is for those willing to hear it (or for those who just drank a pitcher of sangria!).  We can’t believe it’s July already (although we should know by the weather).  Half of 2000 gone already and it seems like yesterday when we were worrying if the world would end on New Year’s Day (or at least whether the VCR would work).

In the morning we had to say goodbye to the pounding surf, warm sand and our (now nearly-grown) baby sparrows and head back to civilization.  Our welcome back into the grips of the modern world was very abrupt as we struggled with the ticket agent to get a refund for our unused Orvieto ticket and get a new ticket direct to Rome.  The related hassle almost blew our mood, but we stayed focused and got by, especially as I dove for the doors of the train and blocked them from closing by sticking out our telescopic luggage cart.  Once I got on I had an opportunity to give the conductor a hearty “Grazie! Bon Giourno!”  Some locals in the same predicament added a few more colorful phrases and arm gestures in the local dialect. 

We got caught up on newspaper and Time magazine during the four-hour trip.  Unfortunately, the news is still pretty much the same, with more war than peace and more inequality than justice (maybe we shouldn’t have left Monterosso?).  There's a new twist in the Fijian saga of a rebel “native” holding the parliament hostage and demanding that only “natives” be allowed to govern (as opposed to Indians):  He released one of 20-some hostages as a sign of “good faith”.   Reading the news, I can’t help thinking of Dante’s version of hell and the special section he described for corrupt politicians and wonder if it’s true.  With regard to Fiji our good friends Paul and Mary just returned from spending their honeymoon there, so we must ask them how it went before we head that way.

We arrived in Rome at Termini station, which I don’t recall being so clean and orderly.  I think they must have rebuilt it for the millennium or Jubilee year declared by Pope John Paul II for the year 2000.  The local paper had a story about the Jubilee not attracting the tourist masses the city had hoped for.  As a result, the local merchants are welcoming the “Gay Pride” celebration due here next week in hopes that it will increase business, much to the chagrin of hard-core Catholics.  It’s amazing how economic benefits make a minority group more attractive to the majority.

In Rome you really start to get a feel for the history of the country with arguably more stories to tell than any other besides Egypt.  This is the city that bore the people that built the empire that started Europe’s real development.  After three Punic wars against Carthage and three Macedonian wars to defeat Greece, the Roman Empire reigned as the widest and most important in the Western world for over 500 years until it was spread too thin, split in two after Emperor Constantine converted to Christianity, and finally sacked by invaders from the North.  Romans were building huge temples, towering monuments and miles of aqueducts (albeit with slave labor) when most of the world was still living in huts and tents.  With its dusty ruins and ancient structures, and more history than one could ever learn, Rome earns its nickname, “the eternal city”.

After settling into Hotel Brotsky on Via Corso near Piazza del Popolo, we walked to Piazza Spagna and the famed spanishstepsfoutain.jpg (141785 bytes)Spanish steps, scene of non-stop people watching and endless laughing and flirting amongst youngsters- its romantic reputation sealed by the death of the young English poet Keats in a house overlooking the steps.  It was packed with an eclectic Saturday night combination of tourists and locals – the never-shy Italian men chatting up the local and tourist women alike.  It’s a great scene to watch, reminiscent of the famous black and white poster of an American woman in the 50s being watched by a dozen Italian men as she negotiates the sidewalk.   Since I was last here (1994), the cell phone has joined gold chains and sunglasses as the must-have accessories, the smaller the better for status purposes.  What hasn’t changed is the reliance on scooters to get around.  They drive with such abandon, you feel them brush against you in the street – I think they actually get extensions on their license for each pedestrian they hit.  The funniest thing is that we saw signs for scooter rental.  Nothing makes me feel more at ease as a pedestrian in Rome than the thought of little old Aunt Ida from Des Moines, Iowa on a Vespa: “hey, look at me – I’m Sophia Loren!”  It’s an international incident waiting to happen.


Day 60, Sun, July 2 – A day full of history lessons.  We started by attending the Pope’s public address in St. stpetersfromriver.jpg (132349 bytes) Peter’s square.  It was wonderful to see the respect and admiration afforded this leader by the faithful.  After his address and prayers, he saluted some of the groups in the square and each one cheered as their name was read – one even had a marching band.  It was a much more festive atmosphere than we anticipated.  We didn’t want to deal with the crowds inside St. Peter’s Basilica on a Sunday, so we took the metro to the Coliseum.  The trains have the most creative graffiti I’ve scene besides New York.  It was especially refreshing after the pristine trains of Russia, Budapest and Prague.  We tagged onto a free English tour to hear the gruesome history of what passed for entertainment of the masses in ancient Rome.  A typical day at the Coliseum would start with gladiator battles pitting slaves, prisonerspopewindow8.jpg (152589 bytes) of war, criminals, soldiers and mercenaries in hand-to-hand combat to the death (and we thought TV wrestling was stupid).  If the loser didn’t die from battle, then the ruling magistrate (sometimes the emperor) could spare him or signal his death by throat slash, heart piercing or disemboweling.  Contrary to popular film depictions, the indication was not thumbs up vs. thumbs down, but rather thumb enclosed in fist or thumb sticking out (indicating the victor’s sword).  One particularly psycho emperor even went to gladiator school to prove how deserving he was to hold his position.  Unfortunately, he had his opponent’s arms broken or cut off before battle to guarantee the victory.  After the gladiator shows, there was a break for lunch while the Coliseum was transformed into a jungle setting with ingenious mechanisms in the floor of the arena.  What followed were animal “hunts” or battles between starved animals (lions being the most famous) and some of the more unfortunate residents of Rome.  The evening would end with the “comedy” portion of the show wherein slaves would be dressed as sheep and thrown in with lions or a midget would chase a naked obese woman coloint.jpg (121318 bytes)around with a spear.   I suppose being advanced urban planners doesn’t necessarily guarantee having advanced ethics and morality.  The opening night of the Coliseum in AD 80 saw the death of over 9,000 animals.  The whole spectacle was designed to gain popularity and entertain the masses just enough to keep their minds off the state of the empire, politics, economics, etc. – and it worked perfectly for hundreds of years, but towards the end, a once-weekly affair became every other day.  Finally, with the fall of the empire, the funds to stage such extravagant productions dried up. The Coliseum then became a free stone and marble quarry for hundreds of years for the rest of the city (including St. Peter’s Basilica) until the Pope declared it holy ground in the memory of all the victims in the 18th century, stopping any further quarrying.

We continued to the Roman Forum and listened in on a couple more tours.  This area is an amazing hodge-podge of ruined temples, arches, statues and basilicas covering hundreds of years.  You get the feeling of passing centuries as you stroll the dusty lanes and view forlorn broken statues and columns holding up nothing.  We heard the amazing stories of Julius Caesar’s rise to power from local boy made good; to General and conqueror of Gaul; to his “crossing of the Rubicon” to defeat his archenemy Pompey; to his proposal of “dictator for life”; to his ambush murder by 34 of the 300 senators (including his adopted son Brutus); to the impassioned speech by Marc Antony (in spite of lingering animosity from the love triangle or octagon or whatever with Caesar and Cleopatra); finally to the monument to him in the forum that still draws flowers from admirers 2000 years after his death.  His ego and charisma were extraordinary, a new Alexander and precursor to Napolean and Hitler.

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After such an overload of history, we went home to prepare for the modern form of mass entertainment and passion – football.  Italy versus the dreaded World Cup champion France.  We watched the first half while I wrote some, then heard the street below us erupt when Italy scored in the second half on a brilliant pass and shot.  We hurried to the restaurant downstairs where a hundred people were crowded around a single 15-inch TV, only nominally eating and drinking as their eyes were glued to the screen.  We had visions of wild partying and fireworks as we had seen in Istanbul in May – especially since we were so close to Piazza del Popolo, the ideal place for an unruly crowd gathering.  We could feel the crowd’s electricity as they cheered the underdog who was not even supposed to advance to the semi-finals.  With just seconds left in injury (extra) time, a momentary lapse on defense cost them a goal and the crowd let out an enormous groan as if a priceless vase had been shattered.  The electric buzz was replaced with tension and silence during the extra period.  I looked away for one second and in a flash France scored the winning goal.  The crowd was even too stunned to groan this time – they just stood in shock, and slumped in their chairs.  It must’ve been the latest comeback in soccer history.  We were very disappointed, but not nearly as much as the locals.  We went to Piazza del Popolo anyway and it was deserted except for TV camera trucks and German teenagers partying with wine and booze on the steps of the fountain.  There was one fan bending over with his face in his hands, apparently crying.  Hey, my team just lost the NBA finals and I didn’t actually cry (well, maybe a little).  Maybe it helps that my real team has won the NCAA basketball championship each of the three times they played for it in my lifetime.  I am quite fortunate (in more ways than one).


Day 61, Mon, July 3 – We had a great café latte near the hotel and headed to the Vatican, the world’s smallest state and capitol of Catholicism.  We walked along the famed Tiber River past the Castel Sant’ Angelo, traditional citadel of the popes, including an underground passage to the Vatican.  The Vatican museums hold probably the finest art collection in the world in over 1,000 rooms.  They say it would take two years straight to see every piece for a few seconds.  Thankfully we had the audio guide to help us, but they inexplicably give out no map of the buildings.  The collection is amazing, broadly encompassing ancient, medieval, renaissance and modern eras of painting, sculpture, tapestry, and other priceless antiquities.  The unimaginable value of the papal treasures in addition to the ways they were obtained was one of the driving forces of the reformation and continues to trouble some theologians today.  The centerpiece of the collection is the incomparable Sistine Chapel frescoes by Michelangelo, the ceiling with scenes from the old and new testaments of the Bible showing man’s fall from grace and potential for redemption, and the enormous “Last Judgment” on the end wall.  I first saw these in 1987 when they were muddy and dark.  After years of cleaning, they are now so vibrant with almost comic-book color they could have been painted yesterday and the plaster still wet.  There was even controversy because the restorers were accused of removing a coat of varnish Michelangelo supposedly added to somewhat dim the colors.  Now, however, you can really see the genius of his work, not only in technical painting ability (which was far from his favorite art), but also in telling a complete story with various scenes he chose at his own discretion.  The effect is incredibly beautiful and lifelike, except for a slight thickness of bodies and his habit of using his favorite male models for female subjects – resulting in women that could beat the hell out of any Raphael or Botticelli man.  The walls are also amazing as the other major painters of the time tried to tell parallel stories of Moses and Jesus in order to demonstrate the divine right of the current pope to embody the word of God.  The whole chapel is a beautiful testament to painting, and particularly to frescoes and may well be, as Goethe said, “the most sublime representation of what one man is capable”.

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We toured the rest of the museum and loved in particular Raphael’s “Tranfiguration of Christ”, the face of which vatmusraphael2.jpg (134798 bytes) is the last thing finished before his early death at 27.  One can only imagine what else he could have produced if he lived to ripe old ages like Michelangelo and Da Vinci.  We even saw a Caravaggio, which was surprising since the church (and many others) frowned on his use of prostitutes, beggars, and criminals for modeling (and other activities) since it resulted in saints and angels that look a just a little too shabby.  His use of lighting is incredible, but unfortunately he too suffered an early death. 

After the museums we went into the Basilica itself, the historical burial place of St. Peter, rebuilt over hundreds of stpeterspieta.jpg (142612 bytes) years by some of the most celebrated artists of the times, including Michelangelo (the dome) and Bernini (the canopy).  It is now the largest church in the world, attracting millions of pilgrimsstpetersintlight.jpg (135231 bytes) and tourists each year.   The first thing you notice is its sheer size – at 186 meters long, many churches could fit inside.  On entering, Michelangelo’s “Pieta” is just inside on the right, unfortunately behind 20 feet of glass due to a terrorist attack in 1972.  This work in marble has an incredible suppleness and life, as if Mary will look up at you at any minute.  She is quite beautiful and feminine, unlike the women in the Sistine Chapel.  Other highlights of the interior include the 13th century bronze of St. Peter with the foot worn down by millions of pilgrim touches, the baroque canopy, the renaissance dome, and a large mosaic version of Raphael’s “Tranfiguration” we saw in the museum.   All the mosaics are so well crafted, they are indistinguishable from paintings from only ten feet away.  stpetersdome4.jpg (156308 bytes)We visited the Treasury to view the gold, silver and jewels collected over the years.  I can understand why some people have difficulty reconciling these riches with the mission of the church.  We thought about going up the 537 steps to the top of the dome, but decided we lacked the requisite energy.  At the end of the visit we were treated to the ridiculous spectacle of a horde of tourists with cameras and videos chasing around a group of chanting priests in procession.  I was waiting for some of them to trip over each other.

From the Vatican, we took the infamous bus #64, with toxic fumes not only from the exhaust, but also from the hordes of people crammed into enough space for about half a horde.  Naomi particularly enjoyed this as she is right at armpit level of most of the riders.  We got off at the enormous white monument to the first king of a unified Italy, Vittorio Emmanuel II.  Although the man is worthy of a monument for finally driving out foreign campodigsunset.jpg (102366 bytes) powers that had included Austria, Spain and France (Napolean) at one time or another; the construction is supposedly much hated by Romans as it is of poor quality and clashes with the surrounding structures.  We met our prearranged tour of the area, led by Raul, a very knowledgeable student from India.  He showed us the Piazza del Campidoglio designed by Michelangelo for the arrival in Rome of the new emperor, Charles V (yes, the same Karl V we learned about in Austria).  It is a masterpiece of simplicity and proportion, centered by an equestrian statue of a pagan Roman, Marcus Aurelius, which was mistaken as Constantine when it was put there.  Archeologists got another surprise in 1969 when terrorists exploded a grenade near the statue and thousands of ancient gold coins poured out!  The original is now repaired and housed safely inside the museum while a copy stands in the piazza.   We then visited the infamously filthy mamertine prison where St. Peter was held until his martyrdom (by upside down crucifixion), and continued to Piazza Venezia, where Mussolini gave his famous speeches promising a new Italian empire to the followers of Facism.  The pattern ran similar to Germany’s: defeat and punishment in World War I, followed by victemm3.jpg (153840 bytes) depression and doubt, then a dictatorial “savior” to restore prior greatness.  Mussolini did many things to bring order and help the country out of the depression, but his hopes for further empires were left dangling at the end of a hangman’s noose after he tried to escape Italy at the end World War II.  The amazing recovery and industriousness of the Italian people in the postwar years has been one of the great success stories of the century; but what should one expect from the land that gave birth to the renaissance and inventors like Da Vinci, Galileo, Marconi and Fermi?    

We carried on to the now-gleaming Trevi fountain, the favorite of travelers and romantics for centuries, especially trevinightflash.jpg (142884 bytes) since Hollywood films and Italy’s own “La Dolce Vida” have made it the centerpiece forjaomitrevi.jpg (141420 bytes) films.  We made our wish and tossed our three coins in, so we’ll see what happens.  At the Pantheon, ancient Rome’s “temple of all the gods”, we were amazed to learn that the 45-meter diameter dome stood as the largest concrete dome in the world for over 1,800 years – a testament to Roman engineering abilities.  We continued to Piazza Navona, the social center of the city with non-stop cafes, restaurants, and street artists.  The  piazza’s three fountains are centered by Bernini’s “Fountain of the Four Rivers”.  We finished the long night with a great pasta and wine dinner with our guide and a sweet girl from Chicago.  We returned to the hotel with our heads stuffed with more history and stories than we can recall.  There’s simply too much history here to grasp – our guide said that even after living here as an expat for over a year.


Day 62, Tues, July 4 – Independence day in the USA.  We toyed with the idea of figuring out what the American expat community was up to or going to Hard Rock Cafe, but we couldn’t be bothered – besides, it would probably make us homesick.  I think we missed our chance at fireworks and celebrations when the Italian football team lost on Sunday.  Anyway, I suppose we’re regulars at Café Maneschi now because the bartender seems to know us.  I think he knows we’d rather have another round of café lattes, but we don’t want to look like pigs – they also have excellent paninis.  We walked to the Spanish steps to get some interviews and talked to one of the horse carriage drivers who said life was all about respect, and a Syrian tourist who said “liberty, freedom, dignity and security”.  We bought our next ticket and checked email at the Termini train station, then visited the beautiful magiorreinterior.jpg (148000 bytes) Santa Maria Maggiore church.  We finished the day at the most unusual sight in Rome, the macabre crypt of the Capuchin monks.  When the friars moved to this new home in 1631, the remains of the previous 4,000 monks were moved to the current cemetery.  The monks decided to display the bones and skeletons above ground in various geometric and symbolic designs, all illustrating the mortality of us all and the inevitable triumph of death over life.   The six crypts include amazing representations of crosses, frames, lanterns, flowers, stars, hourglasses, clocks, and other designs all made with skulls, vertebrae, shoulder bones, pelvises, leg bones, arms, and complete skeletons.  One room even has the skeleton of a small child of a rich family that supported the Capuchins. The effect is very eerie and more than a little creepy, but they do get their point across quite well, as expressed in the last crypt: “What you are now, we once were.  What we are now, you will be”.  On that joyous note, we needed a couple memorial cappuccinos just to make it home.

We wanted to end our stay in Rome with a good dinner, so we headed to Via Ripetta, near where I used to live when I worked in Rome many years ago.  I picked a wonderful trattoria that was right across the street from Residenza Ripetta!  When we got out, we realized that our current hotel was literally just around the corner.  How Naomi found this hotel from all the ones in Rome is another amazing coincidence we will put on our list.

Today’s news from Time Magazine:  A British skydiver finally tried out Leonardo da Vinci’s 1485 design for a parachute and to the amazement of all it worked.  Our favorite quote from Leo: “Lord, you give as all things at the price of our effort – but life is too short for such commerce!”


Day 63, Wed, July 5 – We had our last lattes at café Manischi and stopped by the Spanish steps  for a couple interviews  before boarding our train:

robert.jpg (158999 bytes) "Respect for everyone.  It all starts there"

Hussain.jpg (130045 bytes) "Liberty, Freedom, Security, Peace"


 The train to Naples was crowded and by the time we got to our reserved seats, someone was in Naomi’s.  Unfortunately, that someone was a catholic nun.  Anyone else we would have kindly asked to leave, but figured on this trip we need all the help we can get and making a nun stand for a three hour trip wouldn’t do us any favors. We were excited about Naples because we had arranged to stay with the Pellacinis, a family that hosted Naomi’s sister Kris for two summers of student exchanges many years ago.  They had become Kris’ second family, visiting Los Angeles for her wedding, hosting Naomi and Kris’ parents and their cousin Dora in Naples and keeping in contact for over 20 years.  Basically, we could not possibly visit Italy without stopping by to see Ida, Alberto and their son Enzo.  We were looking forward to meeting friends for a change, avoiding hotels and eating home-cooked meals, particularly at the famous “casa de Ida”.  When we arrived, it was great to hear a friendly voice calling Naomi’s name.  Ida and Alberto were waving at us on the platform and they greeted us like long lost family members.  Alberto drove us to their apartment on the outskirts of Napoli.  We felt terrible because our luggage barely fit in the back of the car and the continuing heat wave made us very hot and somewhat sweaty.  Of course we needn’t have worried as they were very gracious, offering a cool shower on arrival.  We moved into their guest room, which had several photos of Kris and her family in it, and started to unpack.  It was a lot of fun chatting with them because we don’t speak Italian and they don’t speak English.  We got by with our tourist phrases and the help of Tatiana, a teenage girl from the Ukraine they are hosting for a program that helps kids escape the ongoing effects of the Chernobyl nuclear accident.  Tatiana speaks some English, but she is extremely shy (although Alberto teases her that she’s not that shy around her several “boyfriends”).  We unpacked the computer and showed them the website and some of the pictures we had taken throughout the journey.  They were a great audience although my explanations left a lot to be desired.  Ida made a delicious dinner of Spaghetti pomodoro and the best caprese with the freshest mozzarella cheese we had ever eaten.  We understood why she dislikes eating someone else’s cooking (even restaurants) and she told a funny story about making her own coffee on board a cruise ship once using an iron, much to the dismay of the ship’s fire brigade.  Alberto also entertained us with some great stories about running errands and dong deals with the American soldiers during the war.

We called Enzo in Milan, who unfortunately was dealing with some computer problems at work and couldn’t make it to Naples until Saturday when we were leaving.  We called the airline and changed our reservations to fly to Barcelona on Sunday instead, then called Tennessee to wish Kris’ son, Marshall, a happy fourth birthday and talk to the rest of the family.  Naomi’s mom was also there helping them move into their new house.  It was great touching base with them, but of course it made us a little homesick.  We got over it fairly quick with a tour of Naples and a stop by the seafront for gelato.  Alberto seems to know everyone in town, from the parking attendant to the gelato vendor and everyone in between.  We couldn’t tell if it was a typical Neopolitan trait or particular to him, but we loved it.  They were both perfect hosts, but Ida made fun of my favorite Italian word of the day: “perfecto”.


Day 64, Th, July 6 – We had perfect coffee, homemade cake and juice for breakfast.  Alberto arranged for a friend  of his to take us to Pompeii, the top tourist attraction in the Napoli area.  He has been friends with Alberto for so long, he said he remembered Kris when she was here.  The ruins are amazing – an entire Roman town preserved as it was when it was buried by ash and stone from the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in AD 79.  The burial was so complete that the town was lost to history for 1,600 years.  The excavation starting in 1748 revealed a town frozen in time, complete with wall murals, mosaics, graffiti, paintings and sculpture.  Although most roofs collapsed and softer contents like fabrics, jewelry, tools, and utensils were destroyed, the main walls and columns survived, making Pompeii an open-air museum once excavated.  We walked around for hours, imagining how daily life was back then.  The artwork is amazing, with cloudy faces and uneven strokes like French impressionists 1,800 years early.  There is also some interesting erotic artwork in the brothel, but we can not post those to this "family" website.  There is also an arena still used for theater performances and a perfectly preserved coliseum that pre-dates the one in Rome, although it is much smaller. The most touching displays are the plaster casts made from the spaces in the volcanic rock where people had perished.  Some look as though they are sleeping peacefully while others are twisted in agony as if the ash they were fighting was quicksand.  Of course, it was so hot and suffocating they died instantly.  

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Alberto had written down the exact instructions on how to take the train and metro back to their neighborhood to be picked up.  We were welcomed back with a wonderful seafood dinner of spaghetti with mussels, fried shrimps and squid. Afterward we showed them the videos we shot in Pompeii and watched some Italian variety shows on TV.  We could not understand a word they said, but I didn’t mind the Latin tradition of scantily-clad models parading around for no apparent reason (or is that an American tradition?)


Day 65, Fri, July 7 – We took some time out to try to work on the website, then Alberto gave us bayvesuvius.jpg (100639 bytes) another tour high in the hills overlooking the beautiful bay of Naples.  The tour books we read speak of Nanaplesbay2.jpg (110710 bytes)poli’s reputation for noise, chaos and crime, but we did not see much of it, apart from the hilarious driving techniques used to make four lanes out of two.  There is one intersection in particular near their house with no signals at all.  It appears to be governed by an unwritten law of “the bravest or craziest driver has the right of way”.  (We noticed that in  Napoli almost every car we saw had bangs and scratches all over them, which is just another testament to their driving techniques).  We continued down to the seaside, where Alberto’s frnaoctopus.jpg (139763 bytes)iends and neighbors were displaying the day’s seafood catch for sale.  We joked around with them and played with a small octopus, which was too slimy and cunning to allow me to hold it for very long.  When we got home Ida had ready an incredible dish of cold rice, tomatoes, tuna and sausage that we had never had before. It was a delicious concoction that only Ida could have invented.  We then headed out to another famous site, the moon-like volcanic “Sulfitada” hot springs, steaming with therapeutic minerals and pungent sulfur odors from sulfalbertostick.jpg (157420 bytes) the bowels of the earth.  It has been a resort area for breathing ailments and rock sauna treatments for centuries.  The intense heat, steam and smell caused the Romans to call it “the mouth of Hell”, which is funny because I thought the Roman idea of hell was the #64 bus from Vatican City.  We topped off the visit with more gelato before heading back home to relax, write, eat grilled sandwiches, and watch game shows on TV.  


Day 66, Sat, July 8 – After breakfast we picked up Enzo at the airport.  It was great to finally meet him and start blurting out what we were thinking in English so he could tell Ida and Alberto what we had been saying for the last few days (ironically, Alberto had found an Italian/English dictionary the night before).  Enzo has had a very interesting history of travel and adventures as well so we compared notes on some places and discussed how we might meet up during our journey – maybe in Asia.  He shares our fascination with ancient cultures and monuments like Machu Pichu, Easter Island, Angkor Wat and Egypt and believes there may be more to these than modern science can readily explain.  We gabbed over the rice, pesto pasta (made specially for Naomi) and grilled fish so much we felt guilty because we were neglecting Alberto and Ida.

We had a huge project of unpacking the package we had sent there from Los Angeles and repacking some things to send home.  No matter how much we offload, our luggage still seems too heavy.  We went to the post office and had a great time with the ancient manual procedures (carbon paper forms and dozens of stamps). Their security measures include thick glass and this double door method of passing packages to them since the post office functions as a sort of bank for some people. Enzo told us a great story of how the post office was robbed by thieves who put a midget in a package so he could get behind the counter.  It took about 30 minutes to mail our box and we were the only people in the post office.

When we returned, we showed some digitized photos of Naomi’s family and the trip that the Pellacinis had not seen.  We flipped through them on the laptop screen sort of like an old fashioned family slide show for the computer age.   For dinner they wanted to show us a real pizza parlor the Neopolitan way.  We went to a family joint where Alberto once again seemed to know everyone.  It was great – they let me film the pizza chef and waiters doing their duties.  Back home we played some videos of the octopus and Sulfitada trips through their TV and then gave them the small gifts we brought with us – t-shirts from my former employer, Warner Bros.  Enzo then helped us try to connect to the internet, but we couldn’t sort it out (once again).  

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Day 67, Sun, July 9 – We had to wake early for our flight and had a somewhat sad (although delicious) breakfast idatitianawindow.jpg (150923 bytes) because we were leaving.  We hugged Ida and Tatiana goodbye and loaded up the car with Alberto and Enzo.  The women were waving from the balcony as we pulled away for the airport.  We said our goodbyes to Alberto and Enzo at the gate hoping to see them again soon (like maybe next year in the U.S.)    But if not, we will have to come back for some of Napoli’s famous tourist sites which we are saving for next time like the Archeological Museum, the churches, the Islands (Capri, Ischia) and the Amalfi coast (not to mention gelato!!)  It was a relaxing and wonderful break from tourist duties for a change and we were more than happy to trade tourist hassles for the chance to build friendships that will last a lifetime (and get fat on great cooking as a bonus!)


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