Friday, November 9, 2007

Honeymoon in Rome: II

I'm going to stop writing the honeymoon diaries in the present tense, because after the second day I stopped writing altogether and just wrote down key words (which I will post, because they offer some frightening insights into my subconscious shorthand). Anyway, the versione breve of Day Two:

1st married fight! Boo boo stories at the Colliseum! Arch named for Tito Jackson! Fountain named for Frankie Valley! Rome overrun by cats! Creepius maximus!

So, remember when I left off the last entry about wanting a bottle of wine? Yeah ... turns out bottle of wine + jet-lag = drunken angry tirade at new husband! Not so fun. Part of it was realizing -- too late -- that I didn't really speak Italian well enough to act as our little family's main communicator. Get this: we arrived at the restaurant the first night and I managed to get us seated (Simply repeating the word "due", or "two" generally worked for me in this regard). However, when the waiter came to ask us our drink order, I couldn't understand what he was saying. So that waiter asked if we spoke French, to which Jeffy responded "Oui, un peu." So then a French waiter came over and Jeff was our main communicator for the night. So I was shamed. And then drunk. And also tired. I think I started picking on Jeff for not being romantic enough, which is retarded. He is hugely romantic in day-to-day stuff. It's just the "romantic dinner out at a nice restaurant" that he doesn't really do. And I've known this about him for years. I guess a honeymoon is just a big romance pressure cooker; every minute you're wondering whether you're doing enough lovey-dovey couple things, forgetting that you've just gotten married, which is pretty fucking romantic as a stand-alone event.

Anyway, I was being a superbitch and -- possibly as a direct result -- when we got back to the hotel Jeff started complaining that he was having trouble breathing, and possibly having a panic attack. Having had all that wine, plus being premenstrual (Happy Honeymoon, baby!) and then faced with my greatest fear after being attacked by a pack of NY subway rats, namely, illness in a foreign country, I responded by getting hysterical. Happily for all involved Jeff did NOT need medical attention and I eventually stopped crying.

The next day we started a do-over.

We woke at 6:45 -- 12:45 am New York time -- and breakfasted on fruit and rolls in the Arenula's little cafe. Then it was off to the Colliseum. Jeff was excited to take pictures of the ruins; I was excited by bloodlust. As a child, I was famously fascinated by what I called "boo boo stories" -- tales of injury past and present. Broken noses, bloody knees, a mishandled ax -- I couldn't get enough. So to see an arena where people fought to the death ... this was, as far as I was concernes, Boo Boo mecca.

After the Colliseum, we toured the Via Sacro, where I discovered the Arco di Tito, or, as I preferred to call it, "Tito's arch". It's named for the emperor Titus but makes me think of Tito Jackson.

No Arco di Jermaine, though.

We went on to the Pantheon, followed by the Piazza Navona, a Roman square that had been a favorite of mine the last time I visited, in 1996. Sadly, the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi -- the fountain of the four rivers, which I incorrectly remembered as being the Four Seasons -- was under construction. I still did my best tour guide impression, telling Jeff that the fountain he could not see was "the only statue of Frankie Valley and the Four Seasons ever erected." Here is Jeff in the piazza:

We lunched on pizzas as big as our heads (Jeff says they were as big as my torso, which I take as an insult because they were HUGE) and returned to the hotel for a much-needed nap. I slept for five hours.

In the evening, we took a long walk. First we walked around the Largo Argentina, which is a mass of ruins right near our hotel that doubles as a cat sanctuary. In case you can't imagine it, let me tell you: Dozens of cats wandering around in ruins at night is creeeeeepy. It's like Pet Sematary meets the History Channel.

We tried to go to the Trevi Fountain, but it was obscenely mobbed, so we crossed the ponte Garibaldi into Trastevere (literally "across the river" -- kind of the Brooklyn of Rome). We found ourselves with a choice between approximately 50 restaurants, so we picked the cheapest one we could find. It was a cute family-style place. The waitress seemed to understand my command of "Due!" and sat us near an elderly German couple who were being entertained by a magician who had, seemingly, wandered in off the street. Jeff ordered the spaghetti alla carbonara, which I had eaten for dinner the night before. I have to give a shout-out here to the most delicious and artery-clogging dish I have ever come across. Spagetti alla carbonara is spaghetti with prosciutto, egg, and cheese. It's like a bacon-egg-and-cheese sandwich, but better because it's pasta. Oh, I love it so.

When we got the check we saw that the waitress had charged us for a grappa that we had not ordered. "Shit!" Jeff said. "How do we say we didn't order that?" Luckily, I put my best stupid baby Italian forward. "Una grappa ..." I said, pointing to the check. "No." She took it off the bill.

We took a very long walk home, passing by the Castel St. Angelo on our way back into the city. It's a mammoth castle-looking thing that was initially commissioned by the Roman Emperor Hadrian as a mausoleum for himself and his family and was later used as a fort when Rome was being sacked and all in the 16th century (imagine me pushing my nerd glasses up on my nose right now). Later on in our trip, I learned the coolest thing: there's a secret passageway between the Vatican and Castel St. Angelo so that popes could go hide there when they were being attacked!

I have in my notes a note to self that says "write about Rome traffic". I'm kind of tired of writing, but let me say this: Roman drivers are totally nuts. Half of them are on Vespas and the other half are in Smart Cars, but all of them want to run you down.

Have a great weekend! More installments next week.

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