Monday, April 26, 2010 COMMENTS
Fiumicino is a hellish airport, teeming with foreigners and luggage, complaining children and the general din of humanity. I waited a solid anxious hour for my one suitcase and was enormously relieved when it arrived. The drug sniffing dogs took no interest in me, unlike back in 1989 when I arrived wearing a pot loving friend’s coat and was felt up for a couple of hours by over zealous custom’s officers.
The traffic is definitely even worse 21 years later but the city still looks the same, a little dirty and a little worn but noble in it’s soot.
My charming hosts Flora, Alex and Marco were lovely and deposited me into the beautiful Hotel Villa Santa Pio on Via Santa Melania. The hotel consists of three old villas converted into a sprawling lovely place with gardens and meandering trails in a residential area in Rome. The weather turned from crappy to delicious and now at 6pm my windows are open, the birds are singing and the sun is coming through.
The gang took me for lunch today, a generous repost of oysters, a large antipasti platter with smoked fish and couscous, a lovely fusilli with octopus, a little simply prepared sea bass with a lovely Mache salad and of course the ubiquitous Tiramisu (which means wake me up but did not alas do so to me) There’s was lovely, home made and still warm on the bottom where they had poured the espresso over the sponge cake.
I had been up for 26 hours and was really beginning to fade so I went back to the hotel and crashed for 3 hours and now I face dinner.
I had a reviving coffee in the downstairs garden bar and brought my lumbar pillow so I could sit on the metal chairs without further damage to my precarious, beaten up back and upon my return to the room a tiny man knocked and handed me that pillow I had left with a huge smile and the words “I am everywhere!”
Indeed he is, he handed me a glass of juice when I checked in, he got my coffee, helped me with the wireless and now returned my pillow, I must find out his name. I love the staff here, a whole range of cultures with all different accents, Pilipino, German, British and what I think was Greek, a veritable United Nations of a hotel staff.
The little man is Ago and he hails from the Philippines but loves his job in Italy because he likes people and his old factory job did not allow for social interaction. If anyone needs social interaction it is the effervescent Ago.
After establishing a rapport with Ago I went on a lovely walk, admiring the Japanese camellias planted in the hotel’s garden and enjoying the sight of Franciscan monks crossing the cobble stoned streets with their flowing black gowns, sharing a laugh. Old men nod their heads and say “sera” but not in the lascivious way they did when I was in my early 20’s, now it is a gracious polite nod so it must mean that I have joined the ranks of “older lady to be respected” which is perfectly fine with me. The men carry canes and hats and have gappy mouths where teeth used to be which lends their smiles a slightly demented, vulnerable look. A randy couple groping each other among some gorgeous lilac trees made me look the other way in embarrassment, their lust felt a little out of place is such a lovely piazza.
The funny thing about Rome is that as masculine as it might be with blood filled streets and Etruscan ruins, battle fields and macho men roaming the streets; it is still a “she”, this city is a woman, you can feel it. She is a stately older, very beautiful, elegant lady with a racy past.
That night we went to a lovely restaurant named “tutti frutti” and 8 of us gorged on various foods. I had orata fish, a salad made from the tops of chicory and anchovies, mini pizzas, pasta with bacon, orange rind and pecorino…does it ever end? The ice creams were all home made in little fruit and nut shells, chestnut and walnut next to passion fruit and persimmon, really refreshing and unique.
I found out that Marco has a fear of needles; Flora fears spiders and big Alex cannot watch anything having to do with eyeballs. These Italians are an interesting study in honesty and passion. My first day was a wonderful slice of life here in Italia!
Fiuggi is a spa town so it comes with German tourists and buses of the blue haired crowd but it also has a lovely medieaval old town and some decent bargains on 80’s style clothes and house coats, if that’s your thing. This is a small convention, around 150 people and very laid back so my entire duty today was to say stand up and wave when they called my name in the open ceremony. The food is plentiful and very good in the hotel but it’s a little odd to be doing a sci fi convention in an Italian spa town…I wonder what pope benefacio would have thought when he was taking the waters for his kidney stones if he were to run into a fellow in a star trooper’s uniform or a Klingon outfit.
The open air market we attended this afternoon in the old part of Fuiggi was also laden with 80’s clothing and tacky children’s get ups, loads of garden gnomes and fake brass and copper utensils but the food section was nice with a lovely spread of fresh fish and jars of packed artichokes, peppers and big vats of lovely olives of all hues
and shapes and sizes.
Posted by Claudia Christian at 10:29 PM