Tuesday, September 19, 2006

I Dreama of Roma

Victor Emmanuel Monument

Roman Ruins

Altar at St. Peter's

Once I had straightened out my second immigration crisis, I celebrated my status as a temporary legal resident of Belgium by (drumroll, please) leaving the country! My friend Maureen, who flew in from San Diego, and I went to Rome to see a couple of tourist sights and to pick up some Italian boys -- Versace, Armani, Salvatore Ferragamo, and Dolce & Gabbana to name a few.

On the way to the Vatican, these two little Italian ladies approached me -- with a map. I knew right then and there, that if native Italians were picking the only blonde in a 5 mile square radius to ask for directions, they were either seriously and hopelessly lost, or, I was about to get rolled! Given my experience with little old ladies, I was betting on the latter.

Although they did not speak English, they were able to point to the map, point to the street sign, and then ask "something, something, St. Maria?" Knowing the irony had not escaped Maureen, I shot her the, "are-they-for-real?" look over their heads. Apparently, they were.

While I am no Rand McNally, I like to think that I am fairly directional. It's a skill that has developed sheerly out of necessity from traveling with Dan. Unlike Dan, I can at least figure out when the map is upside down! (That would be a reference to the recent Romania trip when I was driving in Sighisoara and he, as the map reader, was yelling that we needed to be "over there". Yeah, "over there" is a great navigational aid. I'm sure Galileo and Columbus used it all the time! I kept driving the direction that he was pointing, knowing that there was no way that he was right, as we were driving away from town and not into it. When I finally had enough of his "GPS", I pulled the car over so that he could drive me to where "over there" was. Once behind the wheel, his GPS signal did not come in nearly as strong. He grabbed the map and pointed, with conviction, to where "over there" was and asked me to help him get there. When I started out by turning the map right-side up, I think we both knew who had one that little battle!)

So, I took their single sheet of black and white paper that, in a pinch, I guess could resemble some sort of a map, and tried to figure out where "something, something St. Maria's" was. To get my bearings, I looked around the little piazza (that would be a square) that we were standing in to find some sort of a name that I could then search for on the map. There was a street sign in front of me, so I was able to orientate myself using that and the piazza.

I had to laugh when I realized that the church that they were looking for was the very same church that we were standing in front of and, after which, the piazza was named! Maureen and I likened it to two Americans standing directly in front of the Statue of Liberty and asking the least American-looking and the only non-English speaking person in the vicinity where the Statue of Liberty was. It was that comical.

I won't bore you with all the touristy things (see links below), but, if you are interested in shopping, here's a couple of discount shops where you can find Italian designers at a fraction of the cost than in the US:

Although we did the obligatory Via Condotti, Via Corso, and Via del Babuino, we also hit Il Discount Dell Alta Moda (Via di Gesu' e Maria 16). It's really close to the Spanish Steps (take the Baboon street past Chanel and take a left a couple of streets before you hit the Plaza del Popolo). It carries Prada, Gucci, Armani, Laura Biagiotti, Krizia, Moschino, Dolce & Gabbana, and Etro, to name a few, at a DISCOUNT. The catch is to take 50% off the marked ticket prices, and, in some cases, even more. Here's a link I found- after the fact: http://www.made-in-italy.com/shopping/stores/stores.htm.

We also went to Discount System (Via Viminale 35). The selection was not a large as that of Alta Moda, but the prices were comparable. This shop was a little harder to find, but it is off Nazionale, in the Theater District, not terribly far from the Repubblica station.

Our best find, non-clothes or handbag related, was the paper store, Il Papiro, located at Via de Pantheon 50. This is one of the oldest printing houses in Italy and is known for its hand-crafted marbled stationery. If you are at the Pantheon, looking into the square, go north (I think) up the street to the right of the square -- keeping McDonald's on your left. It's about a block up on the right, before the next plaza. http://www.madeinfirenze.it/papiro_e.html.

For a great wine bar (enoteca), try Capranica Enoteca e Taverna at Piazza Capranica, 104 http://www.enotecacapranica.it/english/info.html.

Touristy Links:

St. Peter's http://www.stpetersbasilica.org/
The Vatican and the Sistine Chapel http://www.vatican.va/phome_en.htm
Victor Emmanuel Monument http://www.planetware.com/rome/national-monument-to-victor-emmanuel-ii-i-la-rmn.htm
The Forum (aka the Colosseum) http://www.italyguides.it/us/roma/rome_italy_travel.htm

Copyright 2006 by Cindy Lane. All rights reserved.


Blogger Elana said...

Makes me want to go there even more! Can't wait to discount designer shop with you. I see we have the same taste in men too!

9:06 PM  

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