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Italy - France Journal
June 18 to July 4, 1998
Day Two: Friday, June 19, 1998
Frankfurt to Rome
All roads lead to Rome.
Our flight from Frankfurt to Rome did not leave for almost two hours, so we had some spare time at the Frankfurt airport. A friendly German customs agent said "Howdy" to Flora when he saw she was from Texas. Flora said "Howdy" in response. It was probably the first time she ever said "Howdy" to anyone. Everyone at the airport seemed to speak English, and all the signs were in English as well as German. Our Lufthansa flight to Rome was short (an hour and a half), and the view of the Alps from the window was very pretty.
The plane arrived in Rome where we were all led through an area with three or four large trained dogs and Italian policemen with drawn machine guns. Fortunately, we were allowed to pass through unchallenged - not everyone was so lucky. We then promptly encountered our first Italian strike - the cleaning personnel for the bathroom!
The train from the airport to Rome only departs once per hour, but by running for the departing train and standing up on the ride, we were able to get to Rome quickly. We took the Metropolitana for only three stops, then walked the one block to our hotel, Albergo Internazionale. The hotel is rooted in a series of constructions dating back to the epoch of Sixtus the Fifth in the 16th century but raised on the remains of buildings belonging to the Horti Luculliani of the 1st century BC. During renovations, care was taken to preserve as much of the ancient artifacts as possible. The hotel is located near the top of the Spanish Steps in a very wealthy, beautiful part of Rome. At the bottom of the Spanish Steps is the Via Condotti - the most famous shopping street in the world with Gucci, Armani, Versace, Ferragamo, etc.
Our room was equipped with two phones, TV with CNN, triple glazed windows (to keep out the street noise), minibar, safe and an exceptionally nice bathroom by European standards, with Molten Brown toiletries from London.
After sleeping for four or five hours, we set out by foot to have dinner. We found a cute place near the hotel, Arancio d'Oro, where the waiter spoke some English and helped us read the menu. We started with an antipasto consisting of tomatoes, shrimp, onions and potatoes, then had a pasta dish of fettucine with calamari followed by fish with potatoes. Our dinner also included white wine and mineral water. (The waiter would not bring us tap water, and although we later discovered that the water supply in Rome is abundant and clean, we never did find a restaurant that served tap water.) We walked home by scaling the Spanish Steps - full of people just "hanging out" in the evening - and agreed not to overeat like that again.
The Spanish Steps, Rome
Gucci on Via Condotti, Rome