Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Sardinia, Rome then Budapest

We are eleven days into our summer travels. I should have written much sooner. We had internet connections sporadically, but I have been lazy. It is so easy to relinquish all writerly urges to the hot summer sun. And the sun has been relentless. Yes, even I--she of the 75 spf--have a tan line now thanks to the hours spent on the beach and strolling the sunny streets of Sardinia and Rome.

We flew into Rome and immediately caught a connection to Sardinia. All three of us had separate cities of origin. Nonetheless, they managed to lose all of our luggage. Thus began some frantic shopping trips for overpriced undies and bathing suits in the town of Pula. Luckily, all of our luggage had arrived the day before we were set to return to Rome. Sardinia was beautiful and even I swam in the warm waters. (I hate being cold.) L. had a conference and was busy in the days. D. and I swam, read, ate pasta, swam, read, ate pasta, and of course developed the habit our afternoon siesta and dinner at ten pm. By the time we left Italy, we had had the art of the siesta mastered. There was one day in Rome that I required two siestas.

On last Friday we headed to Rome. I hadn't been to Rome in ten years and it had been twelve years since I lived there as a student. I was eager and nervous to see how my imagination would compare to the city of today. It was a thrill to be back on the cobblestones.

The historic center, where we stayed in the Hotel Tiziano, has exploded with stores and restaurants. As a student in Rome, I tended to stay out of shops and restaurants and so maybe I hadn't noticed their abundance before. Yet I think there are more stores than ever before--the streets were absolutely packed with people, many of whom were tourists of course. We hit all of my former haunts--Pascucci's, L'insalata Rica, Cafe San Eustachio, Cartoleria Pantheon, as well as visited the Pantheon, Spanish Steps, Vatican Museum, Saint Peter's, the Forum and the Colloseum. We ate pizza or pasta or both for just about every meal. We drank smooth frulatti for energy. And the the gelato. . . Della Palma and Giolitti, to mention the best. . . is dreamy and so much yummier in the shade on a hot summer day. Our favorite flavors: green apple, orange, creme, banana. The chocolates were good, but the fruit flavors exploded in our mouths.

Let's see, my fellow Rome program students might appreciate the following: we rode bus 64 to the Vatican (new buses, less oogy), we sank to Delfino's on Sunday in a fit of hunger and tiredness, we ate pizza at that little place near the Campo D'Fiori, many of the same faces are working at Pascucci and the Tiziano (which did give us a special rate as a former SMCer on the program), and the room we stayed in at the Tiziano was gorgeous and did not resemble our former student rooms.

These days I am caffeine and alchohol free. Hard to imagine, right? Even more of a challenge in the land of espresso and vino. I was in Italy. I indulged in one caffeinated espresso in Rome at San Eustachio. It was a chemical orgasm. The froth. The color. The texture. I inhaled deeply from L.'s red wine at dinner one night. It was a posh, cheap, and traditional place near the Spanish Steps. And yes, all three of those adjectives as suggested by a Roman friend were accurate. The wine smelled rich and vibrant. I ate pesto three times. I never did find a linguine al limone though, which is a pity.

Dani tried his first cappuccino. We picked Pascucci's for the event. He hated it of course. Never got past the foam. But he has his first cappuccino in Rome and that is pretty cool.

These are random thoughts and recollections. It is the best I can do as I squeeze in this entry from my hotel room in Budapest. Thankfully it has been rainy here an cool. We leave this afternoon on the overnight train to Transylvania, where we will spend the remainder of our summer trip at home with family. Tennis courts here I come. Home cooking and long naps and Hungarian lessons and afternoons writing and spending time with friends, here I come. Summer is good, very good. Never mind that when we return to the real world, we still need to find an apartment in a new city halfway across the country and start an entirely new era in our lives. There will be time to worry about all that after vacation.

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