Upon arrival, our host Gino, greeted us at the entrance to the building, which had great security. As he carried our bags up the lobby stairs (I'm pretty sure he was cursing at us in Sicilian, over the weight of our bags.) he was trying to tell us that he had invited some friends for dinner, in our honor. After a moment, I realized that he said he'd made a lovely, authentic Sicilian supper for us, having invited some friends who spoke better English than he. We were blown away by such splendid hospitality and immediately accepted his offer. Thank gawd there was an elevator to take us up to the *penthouse* on the 6th floor. I'm quite sure he would have expired trying to carry our heavy bags up six very long flights of stairs. He had to be 75 years old, at the very least. After getting us into the apartment he told us to be at his apartment for dinner at "Otto mezza", which means 8:30.
Desperate to wash off the long trip, we quickly took showers and got cleaned up for dinner. It was then that we discovered the odd system of hot and cold water. I'm pretty sure that there is no such thing as an in between, like warm. Uh-huh. After screaming and/or shivering-screaming through my brief shower, my friend took her turn at it with basically the same results. It was really almost funny for the first several days. Almost. But, we agreed the view from our terrace was well worth whatever inconveniences we encountered.
Most Romans live very simply, love very passionately, and eat with great passion as well. Gino kept asking why we didn't eat more and I couldn't find the Italian words to tell him I've been told to not eat so much for my entire life. I should have been born Italian. Life would have been so much less complicated...
So, we arrived downstairs at Gino's apartment on time and were warmly greeted by all four Italian men with a light kiss to each cheek. As we passed the dining room on our way out to his terrace, I noticed that Gino had set a gorgeous table for our dinner to be. We all sat outside for a while getting to know one another (the best we could), as their English was not much better than my broken Italian, with my friend speaking what little Spanish she knew. We drank wine and smoked Italian cigarettes (yes, I was being a bad girl and it was fun, okay?), trying to make sense to one another which made for a rather comical scene. In addition to Gino, there was Alfredo, Alberto and Roberto, all older Italian men that had apparently been friends forever. Not one of them was under 70 years old, but they were still delightful.
Since they couldn't make sense of our Americano names, they nicknamed me *Liza* (Leeza) and my friend became *Charlotta*, which we stuck with for the entire trip. It was really a kick being called Liza but when we returned home, I turned back into
As it turned out, Gino was once the most famous journalist in all of Italy and had interviewed the likes of Sophia Loren and Gina Lolabriggida, among many others. Then he turned into a politico, which I avoided the subject of, like the plague. Our politics don't exactly mesh with the Italian's politics, right?
Just when we thought all was said and done, Gino announced that his friend Alfredo would entertain us with magic and card tricks, which were truly the best I've ever seen. We giggled like little school girls. Let me just say that I wouldn't ever sit down to play cards with the guy. Ever. His magic tricks were hilarious because he made them so. Then, Roberto entertained us by playing Italian songs on his Chitarra (guitar) as we all sipped the marvelous Limoncello (digestivo or aperitif) that Gino himself had made. I didn't realize that it would be the beginning of yet another addiction, but it is now my newest passion. Limoncella is to die for and if I drank nothing else, I'm quite certain my teeth would all fall out and I'd weigh over two hundred pounds. It is made from large Amalfi lemons, sugar, and vodka. Nothing fattening there, right? O mio dio!
I might have stood up and sang a song (or two) in a capella, but it's a fuzzy memory at this point. It's also a bit fuzzy as to whether or not I was applauded. It was then we realized we were ready for bed, so we bid good night to all and made our way up to the top floor, where sleep was difficult to find due to the jet lag. Still, the first day of our trip to Rome was something to remember.
On another note, we were both absolutely certain that Gino had a bit of a crush on both of us. Uh-huh. Hey, I didn't want anyone to have have a crush on me, but it was a bit flattering in an *eewwwww factor* kind of way. It was rather like having your Dad's best friend have a crush on you. Gross. Ewwwwwwwww... I'm just saying...
I'm still waiting for my friend's pictures, but will go ahead and post this without them.
I'm so thrilled to see that Blogger has once again tried to fix things that are not broken. It definitely