Saturday, May 9, 2009

"The Pioneering Parent" - or "My Mom Comes to Italy"

It's been an interesting 8 months. We've moved 3 times. We've been through, according to my friend Erik, the rainiest winter in Sicily in 100 years. We've learned some Italian (still working on the Sicilian!) and eaten a lot of gelati (and in Ang's case, more spleen sandwiches than are probably recommended by the Surgeon General*). But last week was the probably the most special - my mom came to visit us here in Italy!

It was a great trip - we still can't believe how much we did in a short week. First, Ang and I flew to Rome to meet my mother. We stayed at a nice little hotel (thanks to Katie Parla's recommendation) called Hotel Grifo. It was located on a quiet little street called Via Boschetto, just around the corner from a metro stop and a short walk from the Colosseum, the Forum and Piazza Venezia.

We were really happy to be able to show my mom around Rome. Sometimes I forget that the best travel experiences are those that are unplanned/unexpected - I think I wanted to show my mom as much of the city as we could in the short time that we had, but in reality, the most memorable part of the trip was walking up the hill next to the Arch of Constantine. We weren't really sure where we were going, but something propelled us up that hill, until we reached a church at the top, with its doors wide open to the street. There was a wedding going on inside - the bride and groom were standing at the altar and there was the most sweet sounding, hypnotic music coming from the inside. There was a live band playing (including someone on the bongos!) and the audience, including the groom, started singing. The music sounded like it was african or caribbean inspired - definitely not something you'd expect to find coming from a church in the middle of the Forum. Anyway, we all agreed, this was the most memorable moment of the trip. Really, really beautiful.

Anyway, the rest of Rome was great and a lot of fun. It was definitely a lot more crowded over a holiday weekend in May than it was our first time through over Christmas. We discovered one nice thing, however, and it seems that tourists en masse haven't found it yet - the new glass elevator that takes you up to the top of the monument to Vittorio Emanuele - a.k.a. the Wedding Cake. It offers incredible views of the city and a bird's-eye view of the Forum - I would say it was worth it for 7 euro. Of course, we did some of the touristy things as well. Ang and I downloaded a couple of Rick Steves podcasts that actually ended up being really helpful at St. Peter's, the Pantheon and the Colosseum (the forum was a little confusing, especially since Ang had the IPod and my mom and me opted for the audio guide at the main gate - which I thought was pretty terrible). Ang lead us on a great walking tour of the Jewish Ghetto, where we ate lunch and got screwed by our own people - we were rushed making a decision for lunch (we waited too long to decide on a place to eat and then they were all closing) so we ended up getting a little bit of food and wine and paying 8o euros for it. Thank you, fellow members of the tribe!

Of course, we more than made up for that the next day by finding a cool little place called Lo Zozzone near Piazza Navona that served pannini made out of pizza bianca, sliced in half then stuffed with the fillings of your choice. Excellent with a beer and also really cheap!

Anyway, the rest of the trip was a bunch of meandering and hilarity, but I won't bore you with all of the details - there are some fun pictures up at

I will write more about the Sicily leg of the trip later on. Ang told me that its time to give the blog a rest - its 11pm here on a Saturday. What can I say, we are nerds.


* I'm not sure the Surgeon General ever said anything about eating spleen sandwiches. If you are the Surgeon General, or have ever been the Surgeon General, please don't sue me.


  1. You guys going to bring any spleen sandwiches back for Thanksgiving? Or will you have mastered the technique so you can make them from scratch.


    BTW, I finally got my blog up and running. Curious to get your thoughts on it.

    Good to see the pics of Nancy and you guys. It looks beautiful.


  2. Hi guys
    Scott, you beat me too it. Great job!
    Thanks for not sharing the toilet paper secret ooops!
    Home safe and sound.