Mike Bo's Blog!

DIARIO DI ROMA V Wednesday June 19, 2019 Sunny 88°F/31°C in Roma, Latium, Italia Buonagiornata, My buddy of longstanding – Roger Aldi gets a well-deserved credit for the title of this installment of my Rome Diary. Roger and I toiled long ago in the newsroom at KRLA, Pasadena under our erstwhile News Director Ron Robertson, whom I had known from my San Francisco days at KFOG radio, and he worked for archrival KPEN. So, that means that Roger and I worked together back in 19-ought-71. (I no longer refer to my friends of longstanding as old friends any longer, because, at my advanced age…they keep dropping like flies!) So, here’s the story of how my title came to be. I was having dinner with my once and future Rome landlady, Mia, last Sunday night when I Chiaro di Luna a Roma! happened to look over the parapet of her top-floor terrace and gazed upon the largest moon I had ever seen in my life. I was so moved by the sight, that I unholstered my IPhone camera, and squeezed off a series of photos, which I posted on Facebook, the minute I returned to my own top-floor apartment. The next evening, I looked out from my own balcony and saw an even BIGGER moon. (They don’t even have moons that size in TEXAS!) I duly snapped another series of photos and duly posted another picture on Facebook under the title Moonlight In Roma II. In response, my buddy of longstanding – Roger - posted When the Moon Hits Your Eye, Like-a Big-a Pizza Pie…that’s Amore! That song was a hit for the late, great Dean Martin many more years ago than I care to remember. Speaking of more years ago than I care to remember, the Città di Roma is fast approaching it’s 3,000th Anniversary! (Put another candle on YOUR birthday cake!) To honor the occasion, my son the tour guide loaned me his personal copy of historian Mary Beard’s scholarly tome, SPQR. (Senatus, Populusque Romanus – The Senate and the People of Rome!) I quickly purchased the Kindle version of the book and downloaded to my IPad so I could avoid lugging the actual book around. To this day, you can see SPQR emblazoned on every manhole cover in Roma. In truth, Benito Mussolini had a lot to do with wanting to restore the Roman Empire to its previous glory days during his heyday back in the 1930s. In fact, massive archaeological excavations dot the city along with massive examples of architettura fascista that still dot the landscape of Rome, especially in the neighborhood known as EUR, which was established specifically for Il Duce’s ill-fated quest for glory – The 1940 Rome World’s Fair. Too bad that Mussolini’s buddy, the German, spoiled everything for Il Duce, by invading Poland and starting World War Two, in September 1939. Mussolini had drained the massive swamp that covered what is now EUR, and everything, to prepare for HIS big show, but Hitler upstaged Mussolini with disastrous consequences, ultimately, for both. But, in terms of the History of Rome, WW2 passed in the flick of an eye. My Italian teacher, Patrizia would be happy to know that I seem to be getting along in the language better on this trip than I have in the past. Since I finished Patrizia’s class last semester, I’ve signed up for Duolingo Plus, which involves a small fee, so I can practice my vocabulary every day. Then, I have the Google Translator on my IPhone, IPad and computer. I have a few key phrases on my IPhone so I can at least alert a stranger that I’m still learning the language. Italians, like Spanish speakers tend to talk faster than me, so I’m still taking baby steps with the language. I can go shopping for groceries, order at a restaurant comfortably now, but when I need to do a specific task at a neighborhood shop, I prepare the appropriate phrases with the translator. Now, I can get tickets for the bus or Metro at the Tabaccaio or buy more time for my internet service. For example, before I had dinner with Mia on Sunday, I stopped at the flower shop on way, as is the European custom, to buy her a plant. Knowing that she likes orchids, I crafted my request orchid, feeling proud. I’ve rented Mia’s apartment several times now through Airbnb. Mia is Moroccan by birth and has now lived a considerable length of time in Italy. She speaks four languages including Arabic, French, Italian and English. She is, by far, one of the most interesting people I’ve met since I’ve been coming La Bella MIA! to Rome.  I now have a repertoire now of three apartments that I can stay at when I’m in Rome. I like the neighborhood. It’s within walking distance of Michael and Laura and 30 minutes from the center of Rome by Metro. (Just like when I used to live in Queens and would catch a bus or subway into Manhattan). Another apartment is owned by a retired Tunisian diplomat named Mohamed who lives in Rome part of the year and rents his place out when he is not in Rome. Last year I decided at the last minute to stay for another month, but Mia’s place was already booked, so we shopped around and found Mohamed’s apartment right down the street. This year, BOTH places were booked by the time I was ready to travel, but Laura was able to find a place to hang out for two months, close to the other two apartments in the same neighborhood, which I have come like very much. My third apartment – the one I’m staying in this time is owned by a woman who lives in Sweden. She has her brother and sister look after it when she’s not in Rome. I like to stay for extended visits, in a place of my own choosing. I find my hosts to be more welcoming, and I am free to come and go as I please. Mia, for example, is rated as a Super Host by Airbnb. She gets consistently good reviews from renters for her hosting skills and the cleanliness and convenience of her apartment.  On the Airbnb website, her apartment is listed under: ROME, E.U.R. Comfort For Two. A few years ago, I even flew to Amsterdam to visit an old flame. The years had passed, and we were both single again. It was a great visit, and she is gone now, but the days we had together, at that moment in our lives was indeed a treasure. Now, I have a craving to take my son and visit my grandparents’ hometown in the Czech Republic. But it is not to be this trip. Michael is simply too busy with his own work. Too many people visit Italy on their holiday without really experiencing the people or the country. Since my   first visit in 2005, I have been to Florence, Naples, Milan, Pisa, Venice and points in between like Sabina and Pompeii. I have gotten to know some key members of Rome’s expatriate community, like Marsha De Salvatore, the one-woman powerhouse behind Rome’s Comedy Club. Marsha started her brand of ex-pat humor in Rome and is now expanding the concept. As she says, First stop Naples! Look out Firenze and Bologna! Marsha is already on tour with her one-woman comedy show up and down the length of Italy. I am meeting some wonderful and interesting people here in Rome. Each new day is an adventure. More, in the next exciting chapter of my Rome Diary Cinque (5). Ciao! MikeBo [Mike Botula, the author of LST 920: Charlie Botula’s Long, Slow Target! is a retired broadcast journalist, government agency spokesperson and media consultant.   Mike’s book is available from Amazon Books. You can read more about Mike Botula at www.mikebotula.com] © By Mike Botula 2019

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