Friday, April 23, 2010

Italy - day 1 - ROME

i what a day! starts off with the fast security check at newark int'l airport i've ever seen. i guess the backlog from the volcano inspired them to move things along. i didn't complain! flight took off 6pm....u know what that means! ? no sleep. 8 hr flight, so i made the effort anyway...shut my eyes for a good 3 hrs at least. arrived in Rome got my packs, and breeeeeeeeezed thru customs. this is a big deal for me for many reasons. 1- i'm carry art! 2- $1000's and $1000's and $1000 of dollars worth of art!!! i'm always a bit on edge worrying whether some customs police guy is having a bad day and decides the bone up his ass oughta be up mine. 3- i was acting as mule this time! bringing in for a friend 3 very VERY VERY valuable pieces! luckily my good buddy in Naples helped me created a good customs form stating all the art was on loan to a museum (a real musuem...which i actually lent art to! so it's only a half lie...just not any of the art i brought on the flight ;-). oh yeah, back to breezing thru customs and there's my good buddy Massimo waiting with his friend (whom i brought the art for...for rewards we shall keep private for the moment). so, an uneventful customs crossing is a good crossing! i brought my friends Massimo & Marina (whom i'm staying with) bagel's from Murray's. they had that for breakfast and i had some pastry (yummy) and cafe with steamed milk. next massimo & massimo (yep his friend's name too) left for work, i hung out with Marina a bit and got directions on how to get home via metro & bus. and i found out that there was a Caravaggio show in town!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

so there was the plan for the day.

i took the Metro to the Coloseum stop, strolled by (not in) the Roman Forum, went up to the Capitoline Hill, and went in one of the my favorite churches up top there. then strolled down the steep steps and headed to the ghetto (the jewish quarter) scoped out a few old haunts to eat but decided to keep on going and head to the Campo Dei Fiori where i would hit up my fave bakery! bought some nice warm Foccacia (im too tired to check sp?) and some pizza con Fiori di Zucca (zuchini flowers! & cheese).
i sat and ate it up on the central statue, when it started to drizzle i popped my umbrella and was happy as all get out.

then i proceeded on to the Caravaggio show. the line was long. but what the heck...i got on. and there i stood for the next 2.5 HOURS...i couldnt fuckin believe it!!! once i was on a half hour i couldn't quit...but it just kept movin along at a snails pace...just when i was about to give up i met an american student on line and that helped the time fly. well, not really fly, the student had a limit time wise and was forced to get off the line after waiting for 2 hrs!!!!! horrible. but the show was MIND BOGGLING. a dream, and even tho i was delirious with fatigue, it was a great dream. a shot of espresso helped a lot!!! i had seen many of these pieces before (vatican, and other roman museums, napoli, the met, etc...) but the ones i had seen before and finding out where they were on loan from (fort worth texas??? !!!! ....sheeeeeiiiiit they're cara is better than the mets'!!! it was a stunning st john the baptist. and then there was another stunner from a museum in dublin! awesome...but the kicker (not the best piece in the show....but close) was from a private collection!!! PRIVATE???? i mean who the hell has a caravaggio in their collection. it was a big masterpiece...i could see it selling for $250mil minium!!! unbelievable!!!!!

ok, then it was back to the jewish quarter for dinner. i stopped in a sweet lil wine bar, had a glass of Prosecco (almost passed out 2-3 times...that jet lag was bangin round 6pm...hadnt had a chance for nap!) and had the common sense to ask the friendly bar tender for dinner recommendations and he provided me with 2 i hadn't heard of. BOTH were totally booked! the second one, i asked if they could help me out and they sent me off to a very elegant seafood place!
name of Il San Lorenzo
...first of all i got there right when it opened at 7:30pm, and i knew i was in for a good meal as i watched some locals eating fresh shucked oysters and raw sea urchin at the bar. i was eyeing them with extreme envy. everything is home made in this restaurant including the bread sticks!!! and here's what i had: they started me off with some free apps of lightly fried sardines (not the fishy yucky kind we get in a can here) with some bocancini (fried rice balls). I had a nice glass of dry white wine and bottle of Aqua con Gas (mineral water with bubbles!).

i looked over the menu and was THRILLED to see that they were serving a pasta con ricci (sea urchin), and i knew i was going to order it! i haven't had this for a few years, since i had it last in Naples. first my appetizer was thin strips of delicate squid over steamed artichokes with mint, olive oil and touch of lemon.

stuffed, i head off for a much need walk to the train. it was pouring...but the walk was fun. and then the metro to the bus, and all is cozy now.
gonna crash.

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