Thursday, May 21, 2009

Trying Times

So here we are in Roma where I have been trying and trying to get online to blog. Same problem in Firenze, technically, and worse problem here in Rome with attitude at front desk. Is that nasty little girl at the front desk related to someone important? Sleeping with the boss? Oh my, what a bad piece of hospitality.

Finally! Here we are... and for those of you who think our lives are all glamour, do check out the foto: Sarah brought in lunch from McDonald's. Granted it was the McDonald's at the Spanish Steps, and they cheated us out of a package of fries, but being cheated in Rome is getting to be a habit.

It started yesterday when we arrived. Rather than drive to Rome (I am not insane), we took the fast train, one hour and 39 minutes from Florence. We knew to take our taxi from the official taxi line at the train station when we arrived, but we were too busy with what-not to check to see if the meter was running. These days, it's hard to even find the meter (check previous listing about new trend to use LCD inside the rear view mirror). Soooo we arrived at our Baglioni of the Day-- The Regina on the Via Veneto--to have our burly and not at all pleasant driver insist we owed 20 euros (almost $30). And it was my turn to pay (Sarah and I rotate).

Having none of this BS, I marched to the front desk and asked a native speaker to come outside and help. Suddenly the fare was 10 euros plus the 2 euros extra charged by the train station and it was all chalked up to my bad Italian. The driver skunked off, the first of many cheats we have met in our two days here.

Rome seems very much to be about attitude; bad attitude. Few people are friendly or nice. Southern hospitality barely exists. Up until now, everyone we've met in Italy, from taxi drivers to hotel concierges to the strangers we ask for directions, has been beyond friendly and helpful. Not here. Maybe it's the heat (it's been almost 100 degrees F).

We today's morning exploratory session in the old section of town, tracking down another branch of Oviese that we thought would be interesting to Born to Shop readers. It wasn't, but that's why they pay us the big bucks. The upper middle class atmosphere was fun, as was the elation at being away from tourists. The best part of the adventure, however, was the $20 taxi ride there (he went by the meter!)-- a swirling car gliding through crowds and traffic that took us by most of Rome's monuments and gave us a few Audrey Hepburn moments.

As write, Sarah is out there sweating or her country and our readers, finding new finds. I am glowing in the pleasures of last night's trip to the supermarket-- an entire wall of pasta and half a wall of olive oil. I sprang for a few containers of Gran Soleil, a dessert product I discovered last visit when it was just introduced.

Gran Soleil, despite the French name, is an Italian concoction that is sold for less than $2 per container, with two adjoining servings. It is, in fact, a creation of Ferrara, which amkes Nutella. You stick it in the freezer and consume as a frozen dessert. They now seem to have six or so flavors. The original was lemon, but on this trip, so far, I have found coffee, tangerine, passion fruit, vanilla and capachino. Can raspberry be far? And get this, only 110 calories per serving.

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