Tuesday, July 16, 2013


DAY 2, JULY 9,2013
We did manage to land in Dublin on time, 5:05am Dublin time. That meant around 11:05pm Chicago time or 23:05 if you want to be militaristically more precise. The amazing thing was how packed the Dublin airport was at that hour in the morning. The whole place was bustling with thousands of travelers looking none the worse for wear walking in and out of toney shops offering Waterford crystal, Donegal sweaters and duty-free cartons of cigarettes and bottles of whiskey. It was a mall rat's wet dream.
On the plane from Dublin to Rome, even though the seats were less spacious they did do that slight to almost imperceptible recline that was just enough accompanied with my chic eye mask to allow me to fall asleep for the entire three hour flight arriving in Rome refreshed and already on Roman time, Emmy - not so fresh and ready-to-go. She had partied every night before we left thinking it was the last time she was ever going to see her friends. It was a series of late night get-togethers with salsa and chips and scary movies and trips to Milwaukee to see Imagine Dragons and The Neighborhood and not getting back until two in the morning. She was feeling the after effects of too many good-bye parties to appreciate the fact that she was in Rome.
So I had to let her sleep most of the afternoon away and Rick joined her. I went out exploring the area around our hotel. I had chosen a hotel based on what I thought was location and what I knew was price. We ended up at the Hotel Turner, a definite cab ride from where I thought we were going to be. Even though they used the words Via Veneto in their description they weren't exactly on the Via Veneto and in fact weren't really in walking distance from it either.
The style of the hotel though was everything I expected it to be. It dripped with Roman kitsch. The ceilings were painted with cherubs, the entry was a marble cutters dream and they were so proud of their over-the-top furnishings that they had magazine articles placed under glass in the lobby devoted to the furniture line. Faux inlaid marquetry, gold appliqued lion's heads and medallions were everywhere.
There was no way you weren't going to know what city you were in when you stepped into the world of the Turner Hotel.
The area around the hotel was a real mix of government buildings, high-end gated residential properties and a commercial mix of midrange restaurants, shoe stores, gelaterias and an incredible indoor market.
The market was our best find, filled with fresh fruit and vegetables, meat and cheese vendors and an array of stalls both indoor and outside selling day dresses, flowers and toilet bowl cleaners. It was a local jewel we would never have found if we hadn't ended up in this part of Rome.
We all did manage to get out that evening exploring the streets directly around our hotel. We had looked up a list of local restaurants we thought might be worth a visit but ended up at one that wasn't on our list. Brancaleone on the Via Sicilia was your typical neighborhood restaurant
serving pasta, pizza and prosciutto at outdoor tables on a corner where tiny cars pulled up to within inches of our table.
Italian typica was exactly what we were looking for and Brancaleone did not disappoint.
The evening wouldn't have been complete without a trip across the street to one of three gelaterias within a stone's throw from the restaurant. We chose the one with the most customers assuming it must have the best gelato. We have yet to do a comparison shop but the gelato here was pretty damn good.
Rick and Emmy went for the same thing; a combination of a deep, deep chocolate called Cioccolato Fondente that they combined with fresh Fragola while I had Stracciatella and Gran Bigne, a combination of vanilla infused with gobs of gooey chocolate with a hard chocolate crust. All of this topped with whipped cream and a miniature sugar cone. It's going to be the cause of that extra five pounds of belly fat I expect to be bringing back home with me because I have no intention of not coming back for more every chance I get.

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