Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Jason Robards Helps Me Smuggle - Italy I

Dr. D and I flew British Airways from Brighton to Rome. On our flight we could see the Alps from out of the plane as the sun was setting.

It was fully dark when we landed at Leonardo da Vinci Airport in Rome.

The jet pulled up on the tarmac and stopped. I was wondering what jet bay we were going to hook up to, but we did not. They just towed the stairs up to the jet and we deplaned. There were very few people on our flight and Dr. D and I were thinking that we could go through customs quickly and get to our hotel without much ado. However, then we saw the Aeroflot jet unload a full cargo of Russian high school students on a visit to Rome.

There were had to be hundreds of them all chatting away excitedly in their native tongue and all but running for customs. What a bummer. We would be marooned in a sea of them. We all entered the building and it was just like I thought. Dr. D pushed valiantly through the crowd, but we were not able to make it to the front as the students knew how to push too. There were only three customs agents; one for Italian natives and the other two for foreigners. Good god, it was going to take all night. So Dr. D stood his full height of 6 feet 4 inches and waved the good old United States of America passport at the Italian customs officials and it worked! They waved us out of the mob of Russian students. Thank god! I thought we would be there forever. We cleared customs without incident or delay and as we headed to the taxis we were accosted by multitudes of people offering to help us with our luggage, rides, tours, escorts, what have you. We were cool like the native New Yorkers we are and ignored them until we made it out to the street. We chose a taxi from the stand and took off for our hotel: The Grand Hotel Plaza.

Our boss, Dr. R, a native of Italy, suggested we stay there as a reward for our busy trip and well, just because he likes us. What a reward! The Grand Hotel is described as:

“One of the oldest and most prestigious hotels to be found in the Eternal City. Situated in the heart of the historical centre of Rome and only a few steps away from Trinità dei Monti, otherwise known as the Spanish Steps - home to Via dei Condotti and the best shopping in Rome. Established at the time of Italy's Unification, 1860, it has been a theatre of important cultual and social events ever since. Throughout the years some of its' guests have included: His Holiness Pope Leone X, Charlotte of Mexico, Pietro Mascagni, Ignazio Silone, Robbie Williams, Andrea Bocelli, Kathleen Turner and many other actors, authors, musicians and imporantant dignitaries. The Grand Hotel Plaza has also featured in some important movies.

The nineteenth-century ballroom and adjacent rooms with all their stucco-decorations, and magnificent chandeliers combine to produce an almost regal atmosphere or "Grand Fin de Siècle".

Our jaws dropped when we saw the lobby and the rest of the interior. Opulent was the one word for the place. There were crystal chandeliers, gilt work, frescos, marble everywhere, and big fancy tassels. The whole place was decked out to say the least.

After we checked in we decided to reconnoiter in the lobby. Dr. D was quite excited by his room and as usual we had to compare room amenities. We both had marble baths, floors and sinks with fancy faucets and frescos in our rooms. Some of our moldings were gilt. His room was a bit fancier than mine and we decided that tomorrow I would check out his room. But, for right now, we were both starving. What would be open so late at night (it was around 11 PM)?

We decided to head for the Fountains of Trevi and see what we passed on the way there. The hotel had some free tourist maps and we took one each and since both of us had been to Rome before we found our way there quite easily. We had some pizza and some gelato (I had chocolate, yum!) for dinner nearby. Of course the food was fabulous.

The Fountain of Trevi was designed in the Baroque style by Nicola Salvi and completed in 1762.

The fountain was just as I had remembered it from 1966, when I was last there as a 10 year old. At that time, it was daylight and the crowd was so big we couldn’t get near the fountain to throw our coins in. But I, as well as my sister and brother, snuck in between the people and as I got closer I could see coins on the stones that had not reached the fountain. They were from all different countries. I picked them up and tossed them into the water. Then I found a Japanese Yen and kept it because coins with a hole in the center were a novelty to me. I wondered if God would be angry that I stole a coin from his fountain (I was a devout Catholic then) but kept it anyhow.

In spite of the risk of water borne diseases, I drank from a small fountain at the right of the main one that supposedly is an omen that one will return. And so I had.

But now, Trevi was packed with college aged kids chasing each other and drenching each other with water from the fountain and laughing. Mostly it was the boys chasing the girls. Let me just say that Rome is a city filled to bursting with life, love, sex and romance. You see it everywhere and the Fountain of Trevi was no different. The Roman people are beautiful, especially the young men. It was entertaining to watch the playful flirting until one youth splashed me on purpose with a cup full of water. I was flattered since the boy was cute, but didn’t feel much like playing that game on my business trip. I sure hoped that the water didn’t stain my silk skirt. (After dry cleaning it didn’t and I was awfully glad there was only one more day and I had a spare skirt.) So Dr. D and I walked back to our hotel for a well deserved rest. We got back around 1 AM.

The next day was Friday and we would have to earn our keep again. We were getting up early to be waiting in line to see the Sistine Chapel when it opened at 8 AM since it had just been repainted. Oh, how one has to suffer on these arduous business trips!


Lynette said...

Wow! Those photos are stunning. Lucky you. Wish I could see it in reality. Perhaps someday . . .

Sue said...

Google is amazing. I have discovered that I don't have to go anywhere, I can just use google photos. But, I was there in reality and it was stunning. The best thing was that my company paid for it! :)

savante said...

Ooh. Rome! I wanna be there!


Sue said...

You should go Paul. You would just love it.

Anonymous said...

Excellent, love it!
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Anonymous said...

Keep up the good work »