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"Don't plan it all. Let life surprise you a little." -- Julia Alvarez
|Episode 28--Italy: When in Rome|
@ Where`s Cherie?
Aug 05 2002 - 16:24 PST
|cherie writes: August-September 2000|
You wouldn't know we left Egypt by the monuments. There are more Egyptian Obelisks in Italy (13) than in all of Egypt (8). Reason: every time Egypt was invaded, an obelisk was taken by the conquering country as a trophy celebrating their triumph.
There are a few differences between Egypt and Italy--Egyptians drive their money, Italians wear it. I won't be sending out any more bikini pictures since Egypt has plagued us with baklava butt. I thought it couldn't get worse, but it did. Now that we're in Rome we have gelati on the brain and tiramisu on the thighs.
We are happy to announce that Renee is back , but we've decided she can't be treasurer of the group. In less than one week she was pick-pocketed and produced counterfeit money.
How to Survive in Rome:Italian Dress Code:Men--throw on jeans and a T-shirt and then have them shrink-wrapped to your body. If you can fit a toothpick between your clothing and your skin, the fabric is too loose.
Women--don't eat until you become a toothpick. Then put on 4 inch heels, grab a cellular phone and hop on a moped.
Instructions on how to be a pagan Roman Emperor:1. When you find Christians, scoop them up and serve them as lion food in the next gladiator battle.2. Every time you have a military conquest build a colossal marble arch so your army can march through it.3. Instruct the senate to make you a God when you die.4. If someone doesn't like the architecture of a temple you designed, chop off their head.5. Build basilicas and then put giant statues of yourself inside. (Example: Statue of Constantine, the head alone is 8 feet tall.)
It is no surprise that the shopping is incredible in Rome. But, they should have perfected it by now, since the Romans take credit for building the first strip mall in 113 AD (1379 years before Columbus "discovered" America.)
When in Rome, history eclipses you. Suddenly you find yourself walking through the same square where Brutus marched with his bloody dagger to announce the murder of Julius Caesar (stabbed 33 times). Next, you are admiring the work of Mussolini, who had the Forum's senate building reconstructed--the irony of a fascist dictator restoring a center of democracy. Moments later you are seeing the walls which held St. Peter and St. Paul captive before they were killed. Then you can almost hear the 200,000 Romans chanting while galloping horses pulled chariots through the Circus Maximus. Finally, you imagine the starved wild beasts emerging from the 32 trap doors in the Coliseum surprising the battling slaves inside.
There is an old saying that all roads lead to Rome. It's true. But, only because the Romans built all the roads, and all roads left from Rome. The taxis are a little more expensive here, but they are worth it. Driving on roads that haven't been upgraded in 2000 years turns an average taxi into a vibrating massage, bouncing out the kinks you didn't know you had.
Rome is all about romance. (Even the name of the city "Roma" spelled backwards is "amor.") The only reason people don't make love in the streets: B.O. Body odor is everywhere, pungent and noxious. Alert to advertising majors: huge marketing opportunity for deodorants.
We know Rome well simply because we looped around the city on the "Hop on, Hop off" bus more times than I'd like to admit. It was great, except we didn't "hop off" anywhere. We just sat in that air-conditioned bus lulled into a lethargic coma by the garbled hum of Italian trivia misprounced over the microphone.Cherie: Do you understand what she is saying?Kristi: No, I tuned her out a long time ago.Renee: Is she even speaking English?
Fact or Fiction: St. Lawrence was martyred by being slowly cooked to his death. Now, he is the patron saint of chefs.
Rome's history is full of gruesome facts. If you were watching a tragedy 2000 years ago in Rome, you would actually witness a murder. Minutes before, the actor would be replaced with a convicted criminal and publicly put to his death. Realism gone too far?
We decided to hop over to another country (the Vatican) where we went to St. Peter's Basilica and saw Pope John Paul II give an amazing service in Italian, Spanish, English, German, French and Japanese. He blessed us, and extended the blessing to all of our family and friends. So everyone who is reading this, you are officially blessed by the Pope.Kristi: What's that big line over there?Cherie: They are in line to kiss the foot of the statue of St. Peter. It gives you an extra papal blessing.Kristi: OK, let's get in line.
We got Pope-fever and headed to the Sistine Chapel where all the Popes are elected. They lock 120 cardinals inside until they make a decision. We stood there, slack-jawed and dumbfounded admiring Michelangelo's ceiling. Even more amazing is the fact that is was the artist's first painting (before that he was an architect and sculptor.)Too bad Nikon owns the rights to the Sistine Chapel, so you can't take any pictures.
Leaving the capital of Italy was definitely not a Roman holiday. While savoring the thick sweetness of tiramisu we realized our train to Florence was leaving in 18 minutes. In those 18 minutes we paid the bill, went to the hotel to get our luggage, Renee and I got stuck in the elevator (exceeding the maximum weight--too much luggage, or too much tiramisu?), and Kristi's luggage broke. After escaping the elevator, Renee ran to hold the train. I can still see Renee as Kristi and I arrived to the station 7 minutes after our train was scheduled to depart. The engine was chugging, polluting the station and creating a veil of hazy gauze between Renee and us. I could only see her arms flailing and three confused officials standing around her trying to understand her deliberate gibberish. Renee held the train! We threw our luggage aboard as if it were being punished and the train lurched out of the station as quickly as we stumbled onto it.
Next Stop: Florence
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