Saturday, June 27, 2009

italy, day 2  

posted by Michael Piwonka 9:23 AM
After arriving at the Leonardo da Vinci Airport in Rome, we took a shuttle to our hotel, Hotel Patria. The quaint, small hotel was conveniently located in the center city, allowing us to either walk to most destinations, or walk to the wonderfully efficient public transportation terminal, Roma Termini.

After checking in, we took a quick nap, suffering from jet lag. Afterwards, we went to the Termini, where we purchased a Roma Pass, which provides a 3-day pass on public transportation, along with free pass to 2 tourist sites of choice (we used ours for the Coliseum and the National Museum).

If you're ever in Rome, I would definitely advise getting the Roma Pass.

After taking an evening walk along the narrow cobblestone streets, we enjoyed gelato in the doorway of a cafe. (We made it our mission to have gelato at least once a day, never ordering the same flavor again. It was always good!)

As we savored our gelato (and our current place in the universe), we witnessed some stereotypical American behavior -- a woman and two girls (daughters, I would guess) threw a small tantrum after the clerk informed them that the cafe doesn't give out samples of the gelato; they stomped out. The clerk seemed unaffected, as if he'd seem this episode before. Martha and I just laughed, commenting that you could just order any of the numerous flavors; they're all great.

But I guess the point is that we all expect everyone to meet our expectations, no matter the local norm. There would be no more appropriate place for the saying "When in Rome, do as the Romans". A little flexibility would probably make the mom and daughters's trip much more enjoyable, not just for them but for everyone else also. It's all about attitude.

Still somewhat tired, we returned to our hotel early in the evening. I turned on the small television, surfed through several local stations before abruptly stopping to watch the local version of Wheel of Fortune, La Ruota Della Fortuna.

A couple things caught my attention: first, the contestants all appeared to be very poor players (perhaps Wheel of Fortune is more difficult in Italian than in English, how would I know?). But of more interest (and the reason I stopped on this channel in the first place) was the show's version of "Vanna White" -- she looked, dressed and behaved like a Playboy bunny.

From her bleach-blond hair to her negligee-like dress to her huge boobs, the show was obviously not about guessing letters on the board. In fact, after "Vanna" walked across the stage to touch a correctly-guessed letter, she would do a twirl in front of a floor-mounted camera, providing the audience a titillating brief view up her short skirt.

I was hooked.

Occasionally, Vanna and the host of the show would perform a little impromptu dance to the show's theme song. The "dance" consisted of her suggestive movements (all that was missing was a pole for her to swing on), while he did a goofy jig for comic relief. Very strange. But I didn't change the channel.

I was thinking that I was going to like Italy.

Photos from our first day can be found here. (I couldn't help but take the picture of a friendly chap from California who was swamped with bags after dutifully following his wife through numerous stores.)

(To read more, here are links to days 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 of the trip.)


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random. arbitrary. completely unnecessary. yet refreshingly therapeutic.

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