We Arrive in Rome

log for Friday, September 13

Well, the good news is that I got a good night’s sleep. The bad news is that I got more than expected, so that I got downstairs late for the breakfast that we were to have with John and Elaine: I had slept right through my 6:00 wake-up alarm! 
We had a very nice breakfast nonetheless, and in the way of Lavezzi meals it went on for a while. None of us had a printed address for the convent we were to go to tonight, and that made internet access especially important. One of the oddities of the hotel is that unlike most free hotel WiFi, theirs requires separate credentials for each device. Last night I had internet on my phone but no power for the iPad. Now, finally, I had the iPad recharged and was able to get internet credentials and get to my records and get the address.
First, though, lunch! We headed down the beach again to the same café we had visited last night. We made our way through the menu with help from our new friend Andrei, the proprietor of Sotto Vente, where we had eaten yesterday. John had octopus, which I had never had, and I enjoyed a taste of that. After lunch it was time to bid farewell to our beachfront hotel in Ostia and take the 35-minute taxi ride to Casa Santo Spirito, where we will stay until Tuesday.
We were greeted by a vivacious young Neapolitan sister named Gisella, whose English is quite good. I’ll write more about Casa Santo Spirito some other time, but in the meantime you can find out more about them at casasantospirito.it. Basically, this is a convent of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Sorrowful Mother, which they operate for tourists, pilgrimages, and youth groups. Despite the name of their order, there is nothing sorrowful about these ladies.

The Casa is just off St. Peter’s Square, but for our first night in Rome we headed away from the Square to get find an Ottica (optician) to repair Elaine’s glasses, which had lost a nose pad. Eventually we found one: the optician fixed her glasses and refused payment.

We had wondered where Judy and Lew were, but back at the Casa we found that they had arrived while we were away. John and Elaine’s daughther Lisa and her husband Kyle are staying nearby, and we met up with them for dinner. So now there are eight of our eventual group of eleven in town, and the eight of us got together for a lovely dinner (and more wine) at a ristorante a few blocks away from the convent.

Tomorrow (Saturday) we head to the Catacombs of Priscilla, the Capuchin Crypts, and the Basilica of San Clemente.

We’ll post pictures when we can; for now, internet is a challenge.

Ciao from Roma!  

From Wine to Gelato

Thursday, September 12

We arrived at our hotel, the Aran Blu, about 3:00 this afternoon.That was about four hours later than expected, due to our flight’s being delayed and our being rebooked through Frankfurt. So now my new passport’s first stamp is from Germany and not Italy. The various sins of US Airlines will have to be documented some other place and time, but on the positive side we did get a spend a few hours in Germany, and both our Philadelphia-to-Frankfurt US Airways flight and our Frankfurt-to-Rome flights served complimentary wine. Our internal clocks are so confused now that we couldn’t tell you just when in the day we were drinking it. It had to be past noon in either Ohio or Italy!

Our hotel for this night is in Lido di Ostia on the Mediterranean coast. Here’s a view from our balcony.

We walked north up the coast for dinner and enjoyed supper and our first gelatos with John and Elaine Lavezzi, who arrived earlier today.

Tomorrow we’ll head to Rome. We’ll also try to straighten out some technical issues which have made the process of writing this blog a bit more complicated than we would like. And maybe then I’ll be able to post a photo from today’s travels. [As should be obvious from the picture above, that did turn out to be true.] Until then, ciao!

Bill and Noël’s Excellent Adventure

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

In just a few hours, Noël and I will be boarding our flight to Rome. After a four-month hiatus, it’s time for me to write something again.

My sister, Noël’s Aunt Judy, was the inspiration for this trip, and it’s turned into quite the family outing. All eleven of us are somehow connected to the Lavezzi name. At times the webconferences we’ve used to coordinate the trip have covered four time zones. We’re traveling in six groups, on six different schedules. To keep it simple, here’s a brief summary of the itinerary Noël and I will follow.

  • We leave for Rome today and arrive about 11:00 AM local time tomorrow. (That’s 5:00 AM back home.)
  • On Tuesday, September 17, we start our journey north by driving our three-car convoy through Florence to Cicagna.
  • On Thursday, September 19, we head to Bettola, the home of Costantino Lavezzi (born 1813) and Rosa Raggio (born 1816), who were my great-great-grandfather and great-great grandmother and the common link among those of us making this trip.
  • On Friday, September 20, we have scheduled a side trip to Parma to meet the “big cheese”: Parmigiano Reggiano.
  • On Saturday, September 21, we head for Genoa.
  • On Tuesday, September 24, we leave Genoa for Rome.
  • On Wednesday, September 25, we return from Rome to Cleveland.

Cicagna and Bettola will not be familiar locations to most American readers, but I am assured that they are relatively large compared to some of the places we will visit up north!

This is my first trip away from North America; experienced travelers tell me to expect to do plenty of improvisation. So I’m planning to post observations here. There’s a good chance that I won’t have an internet connection every day, so I can’t predict how regular these will be; but you’re welcome to follow along if you like.

And along the way, I’ll be mindful of the observation of explorer Roald Amundsen (1872-1928): “Adventure is just bad planning.” I’m hoping he was just being ironic.