Alright, so I am finally getting back to finishing my stories about my trip to Italy. It has been almost two months since I’ve been back in the states, but I will try my best to still write vivid accounts of the rest of my vacation there…
On our third day in Rome my Dad called our room and woke me up, asking if I wanted to go down to the lobby to get coffee and croissants. On our trip my Dad not letting me sleep in pretty much became a daily occurence. Looking back I now realize that it was his excitement that woke him up so early each morning, but at the time I found his uncontrollable urge to never let me sleep in annoying to say the least. Now for most kids their parents waking them up early might be something they had the chance to get use to, but for me it was the complete opposite. I can’t remember a single morning from my childhood when I saw my Dad up before 11:30am. He was usually out late performing or socializing so as kids we were expected to stay in bed or be quiet till “his highness” as we jokingly called him, was up and about. And if you did happen to accidently wake Dad up you would know to be prepared to feel his wrath, which my brothers and I often compared to surviving a fire-breathing Dragon.
But although I was very annoyed that I wasn’t allowed to sleep in even one day on my entire vacation, I did my best not to show it because really when was I going to be back in Italy again and when was I going to have another opportunity to spend this kind of quality time with my father? So each morning I would drag myself out of bed, splash freezing water on my face and coax one leg in front of the other with the promise of hot Italian coffee and fresh butter croissants. (Thank God for Coffee!)
After breakfast my Dad and I again went running through Villa Borghese Park but on this day we stumbled upon a horse show taking place at the equestrian center. This was exciting to me because I grew up on a ranch and I did horse shows with my quarter horse, Anna, till I graduated from high school. We paused for a moment at the gates of the show watching the beautiful thoroughbreds with their freshly oiled English saddles being lead to and from the massive arena. To this day I still love the smell of hay, shavings and horse hair… All it takes is one whiff and I’m right back there with my mom, listening to her words of encouragement and feeling those butterflies in my stomach as Anna and I enter the ring of the horse show and do our best to make my mom proud.
Anna died of old age exactly a year after my mom passed away which was beyond hard. As far as horses go I know I’m biased but I really believe she was one of the most amazing creatures in the world. Anna was often a total brat, the way most woman can be but she loved going to horse shows so much that all you had to do was untie her and she would load herself into the horse trailer. My mom and I never got over being amazing at that… I’m sure I got choked up as usual just thinking about all those memories but Dad probably didn’t give me much chance to cry before barking at me to hurry up & keep moving.
After our run we had lunch at a very cool modern looking Italian deli down the street from our hotel. I unfortunately don’t remember the name of it but I do remember the lunch very vividly because Dad had a total meltdown about the salt and pepper and it took all of my strength not to burst out laughing and further enrage him. In Italy it is considered an insult to the chief if you season your food, especially if you salt it. So as a result no restaurants have salt & pepper shakers on the table so you basically have to beg for them to let you use the one set that every place seems to have in the back in case someone as high maintenance as my Dad happens to come in and have a fit.
At this deli that one set of salt and pepper happened to be sitting on the counter as we walked in, so like an eight year old my dad immediately grabbed both off the counter and put them on our table. But right before our sandwiches came out, our waitress who was obviously beyond annoyed with us, came by and grabbed the salt & pepper and took them back to the kitchen or somewhere where tourists like us wouldn’t be able to abuse seasoning privileges. A few minutes later dad received his Caprese sandwich and immediately reached for the salt & pepper only to find both were gone. Once I informed him that the waitress had taken them he flailed & stomped his feet saying I’m the customer and I’m paying fo this meal so if I want to put salt on my food then I should be allowed!!! I had to admit he did have a point but his mini temper tantrum was so funny that all I could do was laugh. After lunch I vowed that on my next trip to Italy I will carry salt and pepper shakers in my purse, especially if I am with my father.
In the afternoon we went on a tour of the Vatican Museum and the actual Vatican, both of which were amazing. I was in awe of the Sixteenth Chapel as well as the Egyptian exhibit. It would take me hundred of pages to describe in detail how incredible both the museum and actual Vatican are, so I just have to say if you ever get the chance go and see them both for yourself…
But I do have to recommend seeing the Vatican in the early evening. I think it closes to the public around 6pm. We made the mistake of trying to go straight from the museum to the Vatican in the afternoon and the line was so long that my Dad almost had a heart attack. Luckily there was a bar down the street called the Proud Lion, which had great beer and served as a good place to kill time. I really don’t see how going to a bar before visiting the Vatican was in any way appropriate Lol but I wasn’t going to complain about getting to drink good beer and not having to wait in that crazy line.
And speaking of things that are not appropriate. Someone in Rome decided it would be a good money-maker to create a calendar of “Hot Roman Priests.” Somehow they pulled it off and as a result there is not one gift shop in Rome that does not sell this famous Calendario Romano. I thought this was pretty hilarious so of course I had to buy a few copies for my girlfriends. But what was even more hilarious was that on our way to the bar that day we stumbled upon a group of priests checking themselves out in that very calender, and one of them happened to be Mr. December! And of course I had my trusty iPhone so I got it on video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IIkK2oq6Z8k