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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Ciao From Naples September 24, 2006

It has been a hectic three days but just to catch up on what we have learned so far:
Shoes:  German women wear the ugliest shoes, Italian women wear the best and the highest heels.  They can climb all over the Colliseum without killing themselves in heels six inches tall and as narrow as splinters.  This is true for girls as young as 11 and women as old as 90.  Even though it is a quite pleasant 75 degrees, the German women are all wearing navy or brown wool over the knee socks and hiking boots. 
Country of Origin Counts:  The happiest tourists seem to be the Australians, the Canadians and the Americans.  The Germans and the Asians appear to be afraid they are going to miss something and rush every where in groups.  The Australians always seem to be laughing at being lost.  We think that a the Italians like Canadians better, so we tell everyone who asks that we are from Canada.
It might be that at our hotel in Rome they just didn't like us because two hours in C broke the toliet seat and I had a mishap with the shower head that soaked the entire room, all the towels and the toliet paper. 
We toured the city on two level buses that thread through the narrow streets with great precision.  The concept is that you buy a ticket and you can get on and off all day around the city.  That is, if you are in the correct line.  Which is never where Shirley is.  C got us thrown off a bus by misunderstanding the way you pay.  From the top level of the bus you can touch the trees and at night it is spectacular to see the fountains and the buildings all lit up.  Brad and C are in love with the fountains and I particularily was impressed with the National Palace which is were Mousilini gave his famous speeches -- you would recognize it immediately from the old news reels.  Ironically, on the capitals of the columns the building proclaims Civium Liberatati. 
Also wonderful is the statue of Castor and Pollux, guardians of horses and twins sons of Leda and Jupiter.  Across the massive square is another statue which depicts the rape of Leda by Jupiter disguised as a swan --  about which Brad remarked that a woman making that face must be "upset."
On Saturday it was European Heritage Day and all the museums were free but we spent hours and hours at the Colliseum.  It is massive and impressive and horrible to behold. The lower levels are exposed as a la byrinth of small stalls and hallways.  It is not hard to imagine what it was like to wait your turn as fate decided who you would fight for your life.  As you stand in it, you will find yourself connecting the dots  -- holes in the walls -- from which banners and canopies hung.  We also saw our first of many gypsy beggars.  An old woman, draped in fabric and stooped, walked slowly through the crowd and shook a cup.  Every once in a while she would poke someone in the rear end. We have seen other women in brightly colored dress sitting on corners holding babies, and sporting wounds and such that may or may not be real. 
Rome also has the most beautiful scaffolding in the world.  When a building is being repaired, they paint canvas to cover the scaffolding to exactly represent the building underneath, so you don't miss anything.   
Our hotel, fabulous, beautiful and much too stylish for us, Columbus Hotel, had a wedding last night and gorgeous men and women in unbelievable clothing partied til dawn in the courtyard under our window.  There is a fountain with two live turtles and a huge fish, plus fairy lights in the trees.  The young men danced and shot off fireworks and this morning we got to enjoy the wedding flowers with our free breakfast of hardboiled eggs, bread and fruitti de bosco (fruits of the forest jam).  The punctual and worried Germans at the next table spent breakfast figuring out who owed what for when and the Asians in the corner reloaded their cameras and phoned home on wonderous, tiny phones.
Our hotel was one block from the Vatican so we wandered around down there and C, who will talk to anyone, tried to talk to the guards in their ancient uniforms but they maintained their posts.  The Pope is "out of town" we are told, so not much is happening.  Still, we ate our gelati (Brad's new favorite food) and enjoyed the pleasant Saturday evening as the Roman's finished up their work week and headed for home.
However, we had to leave Rome to see Italy.
Sunday morning we took the train to Naples through green and tan countryside, horses, hay bales and distant mountains.  Arriving in Naples we had the shocking realization that Rome, as delightful as it appears, is a "theme park" and Naples is a real city.  Naples is crowded, dirty, bustling and chaotic, but somehow feels much more like a place people live than Rome did.   We checked into a hotel with an archeological dig/new subway station in the front and had lunch at a trattoria the major domo sent us to -- Donne Paolo!  (ASK FOR PAOLO)  We had buffalo mozzarella and fresh figs and pasta and a margharetta pizza for C.
Now, Brad and C are upstairs taking a nap and we will have a quiet night in this real city - Sunday is a family day and most businesses are closed. 
Hope everyone at home is fine.  More later. 

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