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Memories of my first 24 hours.

Why can’t I believe in myself?  I had written out my directions to the convent.  Since I knew where I was to go, it’s curious that I asked directions twice, got wrong info twice and took an unnecessarily circuitous route, rolling heavy suitcases over cobblestones and holes in the pavement.  Oh well!  That’ll teach me.

I buzzed to enter the convent and left my heaviest bags at the foot of the stairs.  Between broken Italian, a printed letter of introduction and two sweet nuns, I was duly admitted to the holy walls of extreme silence*.  When I returned to the front from paying, one of the nuns, the smaller of the two (she came up to my shoulder) had moved all of my bags up the stairs and to the elevator.  She smiled happily and held out my key, indicating that I should follow her.  My guess is that she does isometric exercises while doing her daily devotions. 

And so I was ensconced in a simple room with an en suite bathroom (no formal bidet, Joanne, just a flexible hose with a spray head and a drain in the floor.)  (BTW, that’s in addition to the shower stall.)

No Internet.  No cell phone service.  Cut off from my peeps!

I wandered a lot this afternoon.  I wanted to get a ticket to Scalea for Friday and figure out how to see the Sistine Chapel tomorrow.  (SC Chapel remains to be seen.)

The snotty waiters in the world always amaze me.  Do they have some sort of inferiority complex about serving when they feel they should be ordering?   Where did I go wrong at lunchtime?  I ordered in Italian.  I ordered in order…not the salad first, heaven forbid…and still this man (In his late 40s) was so distracted watching each young woman walk by that he could only spare time to look disdainfully down his nose when he looked at me.  How to get a small tip from a generous American!

After a restoring nap I wandered again, trying to while away an hour in order to dine with the Italians.  I found a wonderful local restaurant where I sat surrounded by walls of flowering vines, two tables of young (early thirties) Italian men and a table of 50ish Italian women.  I nestled in, soothed by the musical language and savoring pasta with clams; how could it have been better? My salad had that perfect blend of oil with wine vinegar that freshens up any veggies.  The clams were falling out of the shells onto pasta in wine, garlic and olive oil.  Al dente.  Al delectable! The ubiquitous graffiti on the walls surrounding the doorway arches did nothing to detract from ambience of the short dark men standing watch over their dinner guests.

Another great experience on the way back to the nunnery:  I had noticed a bustling gelateria on my way to dinner.  A sign boasted “the oldest ice cream store in Italy”.  How could I pass that up?

In one of those serendipitous connections, a young server who had to show me the ropes of paying first and then ordering,  decided to smile, exude charm, and doll up my chocolate cone.  Nested in whipped cream, topped with a dollop** of cream cheese gelato and then topped again with whipped cream; it was a poisonous glob of allergenics for me.  But how could he know that a woman ordering an ice cream cone would be allergic to milk?  Hey!  I ate it.  I’m figuring that with all that good will and a heavy dose of enzymes, I can live with a puffy red face tomorrow.  Whatever comes….  His sparkling brown eyes were worth it!

Back inside the sanctuary walls.  Nighty nite.  It’s 2 pm at home but I’m adjusted already.

* There’s a lounge room in the convent with a HUGE flat screen TV.  I can’t imagine the person who would have the guts to turn it on!

**Just noticed the doll up and dollop.  Unintentionally strange writing but I must leave it. Too funny!

xxoo

TRAVEL NOTES:

There are two Tourist Information sites in the Termini.  On Binario 1, there is a conventional office with all sorts of information.  (Not as friendly as the airport but still helpful.)  On Binario 24 there is a TI for help with trains.  They help sort out what schedule is best (i.e. when she saw my bags she suggested a route that didn’t need a train change.)  They write it out and then send you to the window to stand in line for purchasing.  There are separate lines for future travel and immediate travel so ask questions.  Also, don’t bother to expect a salesperson to help you in the large Termini.  They will just send you to Binario 24.