August 30, 2011

Where I would rather be today: ROME

Click on photos to enlarge

I was entrapped into attending a destination wedding in Bath, England in the early spring of 2004. Vivian can be beguiling and when she is, I am an easy mark. Try getting to Bath from London, carrying two heavy suitcases and assorted goodies. Good luck.

Beguiled, we flew to Rome and after a few days on to London for a brief visit and then Bath. I enjoyed Bath and the wedding was interesting. The trip home was flights from London, to Dublin, to Boston, to Los Angeles and finally San Diego. That's the downside of flying using airline miles to obtain free tickets.

So here are some of my favorite Rome pictures. That's me in front of the Pantheon, just about my favorite historic building in the Eternal City. I had on my San Diego Padres cap and a guy wearing a San Diego Chargers jacket spotted me. It pays to wear sports gear if you enjoy chatting with strangers.

The same thing happened a few years before in Copenhagen. We needed a bathroom, and found one in a classy hotel in the middle of town. While waiting for Vivian, outside the ladies room, I spotted a man wearing a Chargers cap. It turns out he lived in the same part of San Diego as we and his wife and I recognized each other from a donut shop. The bonuses of travel just seem to pop up out of nowhere.

If I could be in any particular spot in Rome, as I write, it would be in the crowd on the Spanish Steps. It is so alive with people from all over the world, an instant happening.
Vivian and I had just climbed the Spanish steps on April 3, 1972 when we stopped for coffee at a cafe. We had just picked up a copy of the International Herald-Tribune. This was many years before the instant communication of the internet and all these new fangled accessories.

Paging through the Trib, Vivian gasped and started to cry. "You won't believe this," she weeped. My boyhood hero and one of her favorite Brooklyn Dodgers, Gil Hodges, had died of a heart attack two days shy of his 47th birthday. At the time he was the manager of the New York Mets. A heavy smoker, Gil was playing golf with his coaches in Florida and reportedly was gone before he hit the ground.

Gil's widow, still living some 40 years later, is the former Joan Lombardi from Brooklyn.

If you haven't been to Rome, put it on your bucket list. It defies the imagination. History is everywhere and the food is sensational.

Photos by Frank Barning

No comments: