Rome Diary V -Il Mio Ritorno alla Città degli Echi! 

Museo Capitolini "OUCH!"

My Return to the City of Echoes! .... I'M BACK!

The View From My Apartment - Viale Oscar Sinigaglia

Getting Settled!


Thursday (Giovedi) May 23, 2019

Sunny 69°F/20°C in Roma, Latium, Italia



It always takes me a few days to get over my jet lag on a transatlantic flight! Never mind that I saw Dr. Young twice for what turned out to be a bad cold mixed in with my allergies. Then there is the acclimating that’s needed moving into a new apartment.  I have a top floor apartment that my son found on Airbnb. I’ve had good luck with Airbnb. It’s the third apartment I’ve rented…. In a nice neighborhood close to Michael and Laura. Stefania, the lady that owns the place, just renovated it with all-new appliances and dual-pane windows.


Il sesto piano…the sixth floor…sits seven stories above a quiet street lined with those ubiquitous Umbrella Pines that seem to be everywhere around Rome. Respighi immortalized them in his symphonic work The Pines of Rome. The effect for me is overlooking an urban forest from my front door.  The neighborhood is in the EUR district, about 35 minutes by Metro from Roma Centrale, the historical heart of the Eternal City. EUR was developed under Benito Mussolini as the site for the 1940 World’s Fair. But, while Il Duce famously drained the swamp that EUR was best known for at the time, World War Two broke out and Mussolini’s World’s Fair died on the drawing board. EUR itself survived and is now a bustling borough of the city.


I’ve metamorphosed from first-time tourist in 2005, when I first arrived in Rome expecting to visit Naples, Pompeii, Florence and Venice in ten days, to the present and my status as a part-time resident. I’m limited only by the 90-day window that comes with a European Union tourist visa. From day one, the kids have lobbied hard to persuade me to move here full time. That’s a tempting thought, and one that was very far from my mind just a few years ago.


One thing that I did in settling into my new digs – change out the old, one-cup-at-a-time percolator style coffee pot for a brand-new Nespresso coffee maker. You know, the type that George Clooney touts in those TV commercials. I’ll just leave it with Mike and Laura until I come back to Rome. I did that with my laptop computer and a suitcase full of clothes last year. If you’re Italian, and you grow up with a coffee pot like that, it’s one thing! But if you’re an American who grew up on the likes of Mr. Coffee, then an Italian-style coffee pot is going to be way beyond your abilities.  The same of cultural chasm exists between what most Americans consider a good, full cuppa cawfee, and what most Italians do, and we have G.I. Joe to thank for the course correction. Back during  the latter days of World War Two, when Rome was aswarm with thousands of American soldiers all looking for sex and coffee (not necessarily in THAT order), the GI’s decided that they would have to drink at least eight of the demi-tasse cups that the Italians drank from to get just ONE American-style cuppa cawfee out of the deal.  And so, another wartime compromise was negotiated between the occupiers and the occupied and Caffé Americano was born.  Now when I go into a bar, trattoria or ristorante, I can get a full cup of Joe. Since I drink my coffee black with a little sweetener, I order a Caffѐ Americano nero, con dolcificante.


Michael and Laura popped around noon to pick me up for a stroll around my new neighborhood and to have a spot of pranzo (lunch). Since, the sun had decided to make an appearance after several days of thunderstorms, a pleasant stroll was had by all, even Sofia, Mike and Laura’s black Volpino. Knowing that I am good for a few random table scraps, Sofia nestled her muzzle on my leg and looked up at me with her best feed me gaze. Italians bring their dogs with them everywhere. So, it’s not unusual to see the family pooch in a restaurant, at all.  Back home, the mere sight of a pooch in a restaurant would most likely cause a run on torches and pitchforks. We checked the shops restaurants within a few blocks of my  apartment. Laura wanted to orient me to the location of the Elite Mercato, which lies several short streets away from me. This market is not to be confused with the Elite SUPERMercato which lies beyond the junction of Laurentina and Viale dell’Oceano Atlantico on Via Giacomo Debenedetti.


Now, my goal with this series of Rome Diaries, is not to dazzle you with a typical travel log. After all, the likes of Rick Steves and Samantha Brown can do that, with much more panache.  Rather, my objective is to target the first-time traveler who has taken the kind of tour that drags a poor tourist through 15 cities in 12 days and leaves him or her wondering, Wow! What a vacation! The castles. The ruins. The museums. The wine. The food. And, the people!  Oh! The people! What a wonderful trip! Oh, how I would love to go back THERE! Wait just a minute, Pilgrim! Do you have any idea where THERE is?  That was ME on my very first trip to Italy. I had just two weeks, during which – I figured – I  could visit Rome and Pompeii, see Naples, hop the high speed train to Florence, with a side trip to Pisa, and wrap it up in Venice, AND be back in Rome in time to catch my flight back to California. PS: I never left Rome! Too many interesting things to do in Rome. Besides, my son is one of the best tour guides in Rome. So, it was a no-brainer. In 2013, I came for Christmas and stayed nearly three months. That was where we started following a pattern where I would rent a place of my own. So. Life in the Big City – Roman Style! It’s designed for the first-time traveler who want to go back. IF he can figure out where THERE is!





[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]


© By Mike Botula 2019


Il Mio Ritorno alla Città degli Echi!

Sunday May 5, 2019

Sunny 61°F/16°C in Roma, Latium, Italia

Sunny 80°F/27°C in Cedar Park, Texas


Rome: City of Echoes!

The complete quote is one of my favorites. It was written about a thousand years ago by the Renaissance painter Giotto di Bondone, on his first journey to the Eternal City. Giotto observed, Roma è la città degli echi, la città delle illusioni e la città dell'anelito. (Rome is the city of echoes, the city of illusions, and the city of yearning).

And, I’m returning to my little corner of it!

Last year, I left one of my suitcases with Michael and Laura along with my fancy walking stick and my laptop computer. Now, I won’t have to pack so much. Going along with Ben Franklin’s wise saying about having company, Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days, I don’t impose on Michael and Laura any more than I have to. We usually book a small place nearby through Airbnb, and I’ve managed to book a couple of gems. They’re both close together in a neighborhood that I’ve gotten to know well. And, my hosts are both jewels. Mia, whose apartment I’ve rented several times now, is a Moroccan lady who speaks several languages. Mohamed, whose apartment I stayed in during a rare Roman snowstorm, is  a retired Tunisian diplomat who speaks French and Italian as well as his native language.

I love the diversity of any great city, and I’ve hung my hat at various times in New  York City (where I was born), San Francisco, Los Angeles, Berlin (on both sides of the wall), Amsterdam and Frankfürt. Since I’ve been traipsing to Italy, I’ve added Rome, Florence, Venice, Milan and Naples to my bucket list.  As Mark Twain once said, Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime! Amen to that, Mr. Clemens!

I don’t drive anywhere in Italy. Roman drivers have a hard-earned reputation for being hair-raising behind the wheel, and the city abounds with round-a-bouts, those traffic circles left over from antiquity. And Napolitano drivers are crazier than the Romans. I found drivers in Milan to be the most considerate. The Milanese will actually surrender the right-of-way to pedestrians. In Rome and Naples, it’s always open season on pedestrians. Instead, I rely on Rome’s public transit system. It’s just a 15 minute walk from either apartment to the Laurentina Metro station, last stop on  Linea B, which stops at the Circus Maximus and Coliseum before reaching the major transfer point at Termini, Rome’s central train terminal. For intercity travel, I heartily suggest Italy’s high-speed rail service. Either Trenitalia or Italotreno can whisk you in hours to Naples or Florence, Bologna or Venice at speeds approaching 200 miles an hour.

On my first visit to Italy back in 2005, I thought two-and-a-half weeks would be more than enough time to see all the sights. And so, I sketched out plans to see Rome and Pompeii, and then head north to Florence and Venice, with a side trip to Pisa to see the leaning tower. Wow! Was THAT ever wishful thinking in the extreme! I never got out of Rome. Too much to see and do in Roma. I made another trip in 2009 for two-and-a-half weeks, and this time got to see Pompeii. But, the life changer came late in 2013, when I came in a time of great personal upheaval and spent nearly three months. After a few weeks, my son came to me and said, Pop, you’re welcome to stay forever if you want, but we’re going to give each other some more space. And, that’s how I wound up in a studio apartment in nearby Mostacciano. As soon as I was moved in and comfy-cozy, the kids informed me that they were going on a cruise and wouldn’t be back for ten days. I was on my own, thousands of miles from my stomping grounds in California…in a strange city, where I didn’t even speak the language. I was instantly reminded of how my grandparents must have felt when they landed at Ellis Island in 1903 unable to speak a word of English in their Brave, New World! If my grandfather and grandmother could do it, I muttered to myself, so can I! And, so I did. And, what’s more – I never looked back. My new digs was a one-room studio apartment on the eighth floor of an apartment building overlooking the street below. Outside was a large terrace populated by cactus and other desert plants usually found in North Africa or the Sonora Desert of Mexico. My landlady, who spoke perfect English, asked me to water her plants while she was on a month-long holiday in Argentina. That said, she left me to the tender care of her uncle who lived several floors below and spoke not a word of English.

She had a rather large book collection – all in Italian, of course – with the exception of a lone copy of Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons, which I sat down to read with gusto, since I had just seen the movie. Over the next few days, I nervously ventured out of my new apartment to visit the Bancomat at the Post Office across the street; the trattoria and ristorante cinese next to the Post Office. There was also a news stand across the street where I could purchase biglietti – tickets for the bus or Metro, and a supermarket up the hill to the right of my building, where I could buy my groceries. It was a nice, compact neighborhood with stores offering every creature comfort I could want in easy walking distance of my front door. Once I got over the shock of being a stranger in a strange land, I began to feel right at home. By the time that Michael and Laura returned from their cruise, I felt like a native.

It was on that visit to Rome that I began keeping my Rome Diary. It began simply enough, but now, it has morphed into a series of blogs which are posted on my website, and carried on Blogspot, Facebook and Twitter. In terms of individuals chapters of Diario di Roma, this is Chapter Five. That experience launched me on a new career as a writer, which serves to keep me healthy and in control of my mental acuity, if not wealthy.

Since 2013, I prefer to visit for at least a month, preferably two or more, and rent a place near Michael and Laura. So, in spite of the fact that roughly five thousand miles separate my son and my daughter, Grandpa is still able to travel back and forth and keep the remaining family ties well-tended. And, speaking of family ties! I would be terribly remiss if I did not introduce you to Laura’s parents, Sergio and Annamaria. They live just a short drive from Michael and Laura, also have a home in nearby Sabina, about an hour’s drive from Rome. It’s where I spent Christmas in 2013, and helped usher in the New Year, 2014. Last year, we all went to see CirCuba together. That’s the National Circus of Cuba, which I would never have seen at home, given the current political climate. Laura also has a sister, Chiara, who lives in another part of Rome with her hubby Maurizio and young daughter Noemi. So, I feel blessed to have, not just one family … but two.

So then – My passport is up-to-date…I have my ticket…have a new suitcase for my trip and everything I need to put in it. Stay tuned, Diario di Roma Cinque:  Il Mio Ritorno alla Città degli Echi! is right around the corner!




[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]


© By Mike Botula 2019


Museo Capitolini Rome is Founded

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