Friday, April 9, 2010

While in Rome...

Sheri and I had gone to Rome. While on a tour bus we decided at one of the stops we would hop off and do some exploring on our own and find our own way back. Mick & Maggie, a couple from Australia were going to do the same thing. We split up without the intention of meeting up later. How could we? We didn't have cell phones back then and neither of us had been to Rome before so we didn't know our way around. There is nothing like immersing yourself into a foreign culture without knowing the language and not even a map. The exhilaration of exploring, discovering and experiencing with all your senses, sights to behold, the sounds of the city, aromas (good & bad) and to feel cold marble and stone under your feet and hands at all times and the surroundings of an ancient culture as we walked along for what may have been several miles.
We were getting hungry and started looking for a place to eat. Block after block there were no eateries, no ristorantes, street vendors, trattorias, cafes or anything that resembled food. We finally had realized that we weren't in the food districts of Rome! We had been walking through the retail section. I had forgotten that Europeans divide up their cities like that into districts. We finally moved one block over and there were all the ristorantes. Problem was, they were all closed. Again, the Europeans eat much later than we do. It had gone from 6:00 to 6:30 to 7:00 and now was getting close to 8:00. Finally I noticed a little old woman sweeping her sidewalk with a handmade broom. The door to her ristorante was open. In it was a brick fired oven with a nice fire burning in it. We crossed the street and doing my foreign gesture thing she gladly welcomed us inside and said "you eat, you eat." Not 5 minutes after we sat down our friends, Mick & Maggie were peeking in the door to see if they were open. I saw them and called out to them. Had we tried to meet up with them some 5 hours later in a huge city like Rome we could've never made it happen, even with cell phones. The chances would've been astronomical. Mick & I had to order the brick fired pizza. I had never had one before so this was a first. A first also to engage my 5th sense in Rome. The taste was out of this world. Old world cooking meets hungry travelers. After devouring the pizza we all laughed at what a phenomenal bit of luck we had meeting up again for dinner. We caught a taxi back to the hotel with a driver that spoke no English. After a hair raising, multi car passing, over double lines and through intersections at amazing speeds that turned our knuckles white we made it back to our hotel. The day was a huge success and a lot of fun but the thought of that pizza continued to visit me through the years. It was not to go away and I was going to have to deal with it again some day by meeting it head on. This day is coming soon.

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