Welcome to “Mi Piace, Mi Gusta”! (Mi Piace is Italian for “I like” and Mi Gusta is the same in Spanish.)
Well, this trip started out with a whimper. On the way to the airport, I got a call from my friend Katie, who was already there. Our flights (ORD to PHL, PHL to FCO/Rome) were both cancelled. They had been fine an hour earlier when I’d checked online at home.
Some polite begging at the desk got us transferred to another airline with a direct flight to Rome. The only problem is that we were seven hours early for that flight. Oh well, we’ll eat a meal (or two) at the airport. Our new flight was scheduled to leave at 6:20, but we soon found out it was delayed and wouldn’t leave until after 10:00.
The funniest thing that happened at the airport occurred as we were going through security. Katie had wanted to bring some peanut butter for her lunches. They don’t have peanut butter in Italy (a fact that truly worries peanut butter lovers like Katie, me, and Cardinal Dolan). When Katie ran out of room in her luggage, she stuck it in her carry-on. Yeah, guess what counts as a “liquid”? Peanut butter! Out went the brand-new, still-sealed jar at the security point! Katie invited the security guard to eat it himself, but he said he couldn’t.
After nearly 12 hours at the airport, we left on our direct flight. Apparently, there had been a fire at the international terminal in Rome back in May, but they are still recovering. When we landed at four this afternoon, the employees at Terminal 3 at Fiumicino were all wearing gas masks.
Using my landlady’s advice from last year, we took a coach bus into the city. From there, we walked several blocks to Katie’s apartment, which she is sharing with two Brits. Only one of whom was at the apartment already. We chatted with her for a bit (she seems lovely), and then headed over to my apartment, which is 7-8 blocks away.
My landlady was very happy to see me again. Like real Italians, we kissed each other on the cheek. She even insisted on the same with Katie. Then she made us coffee, and we chatted as best we could. Katie speaks Spanish, and apparently so does my landlady, so we had an interesting tri-lingual conversation. Mostly Italian with some Spanish from Katie, and a little English between me and Katie.
My landlady had some funny stories to tell us about a previous tenant who didn’t seem to ever use to shower, and kept mistakenly using the bidet as a toilet even though she was left messages in Italian, English, and her native language not to do so. Ha!
Katie and I enjoyed a nice pasta dinner, ate some gelato at one of my favorite gelato places (Old Bridge), and then sat for a bit in front of St. Peter’s. Tomorrow we head off to class. I will have to take a test to see what class they put me in. Katie will go in the beginner’s class.
The thought that keeps running through my mind is that I can’t believe I am really here. Last year, on my last night in Rome, I spent a long time in front of St. Peter’s praying that I would one day come back. Who knew that it would be so soon! Grazie a Dio! Thanks be to God I am back!