February was the month we were meant to go to Rome with Tony E, who was supposed to go to South Africa to see his daughter Helen. Unfortunately, at the last minute he was not well. It was such a shame. Nothing serious, but not great for a long-haul flight. He had his medication and was getting better by the day, so as we paid for the train tickets and hotel, John and I decided to go to Rome for the overnight stay anyway.
Luckily, the weather was lovely, very warm in fact. We did a lot of walking as you do in a city break. Also, we both really wanted to see the movie 1917, and there are cinemas in Rome that play films in the original language with Italian subtitles. Most films made outside of Italy are dubbed into Italian, and as our Italian is not great it would be difficult for us to understand. So, the afternoon we arrived, we went to a cinema to watch the movie. It is such a good film by the way. The cinema we went to is Nuovo Olympia in Via in Lucina, it was about a 30-minute stroll from the Termini train station. It is a really nice cinema, quite small but with comfy seats, no food to buy that I noticed. It is located in a lovely area, just off via del Corso and the parliament area, with lovely looking restaurants and bars nearby. I would definitely recommend a visit if you want to watch a film whilst you are in Rome.
On our way to the cinema we passed the opera house (Teatro Dell’Opera) and suddenly there was this roar. I jokingly said that it sounded like a Ferrari. In fact, it really was. They were driving the new Ferrari Roma on to a plinth outside the opera house for a major event that evening which celebrated 150 years of Rome being capital of Italy. It is a lovely looking car.
After the film, we had a long meander back to our hotel, taking in the atmosphere, stopping at a couple of bars for drinks and aperitivi. It was getting close to dinner time and were looking at restaurants near our hotel, and we came across a restaurant that was in a basement of the same street – Trattoria Grotta Amatriciana. Well we were persuaded by the lovely man at the door, haha. Luckily the food and service were lovely, the ossobuco alla romana was very yummy.
The next day, our train was not until 4.30pm so we had a decent amount of time to wander around. As we saw 1917 the previous day, we decided to go to the monument dedicated to the soldiers that died in world war one and wars after that. It is part of the huge white marble Victor Emmanuel II National Monument also called Altar of the Fatherland. It was quite thought provoking. We went to the top and saw the great views of Rome. The museum wasn’t open which was a shame. We did more meandering, had lunch and headed to the train station to get our train home. It turned out to be a lovely couple of days.
The Elephant in the Room, I Guess
I suppose I shouldn’t fail to mention the Coronavirus that is going around the world and has high number of cases in the main in Northern Italy. Thought I would mention it now and get it over with. Just to let you know that we are all OK and it has not entered Calabria, which is great. Thanks for the messages of concern I have received.
John has seen a couple of non-Italian people with masks and gloves in the supermarket but generally everyone is just carrying on with life normally. I have real sympathy for the family of people who have lost their lives. I have read most of them were sick already. So, it seems it is very much like the flu, it affects the already sick more. But nobody is avoiding places where there are flu cases as no one would leave their house. Anyway, hopefully there is a vaccination soon and people will not be scared anymore. That fear is causing a huge issue to a lot of people’s lives more than the virus itself.
John’s Eye Operation
A few days later, it was the day John was to have his eye operation to have his cataract removed. Many thanks for Miro and Denisa for taking us to the hospital and staying around. Really glad that they took us, you will see why.
After a bit of a wait, John went into the area for pre op preparation and we sat outside, only patients were allowed in. We waited, then after a while a nurse came out and gave me a form and told me I had to do something. But I had no idea what I had to do. I didn’t understand. Luckily, a man who was waiting for his relative could speak English and told me that I had to go to the desk and pay the fee. His relative came out and he said he would show me the way. That was genuinely nice of him. So, there was me, with all of John’s stuff as he had to change into pyjamas when he went into the pre-op area, following this very helpful Italian man with his family, wondering what this will cost. He showed me the place and it was a waiting area for a couple of people behind counters. He took a ticket and said just wait for your number to be called and he said goodbye. I was so grateful.
Eventually it was my turn, so I went to the counter and was told the price, 56 euros. OK. I asked if I can pay by card thinking it would be OK at a hospital where lots of people are paying fees, but he said no, cash only. I did not have any cash on me and I could not find John’s wallet in his bag – oh no!!
I asked where the nearest bancomat (ATM/cash machine) was and he shrugged and said possibly the marina. This hospital is on top of a big hill so the marina wasn’t exactly 2 minutes away. Anyway, I called Miro who was with Denisa, their daughter and dog outside to give the dog a walk and said we need to find a cash machine. Having no idea where the nearest bank was, I used trusty Google maps and the nearest one on there was 7km away. That’s a bit far, but hey, I needed 56 euros. There probably is one closer but there was no way to know.
So, we drove to find this bank, luckily it was on the coastal road and didn’t take long. We were wondering, if we could not get cash, would they keep John in the hospital until I paid. I don’t think John would’ve enjoyed that haha. Also, we had no idea if John had had his operation and is waiting for us there in his pyjamas.
Eventually I got the money and returned to the hospital, it took about 20 mins in total I guess, but felt like ages. I took a new ticket and there were about 13 people in front of me, oh dear. After what seemed like 10 hours (it wasn’t), I got to the desk. I have the money, but there was a problem, John is not on the system and I could not find his wallet, so also I could not find his lovely new Italian ID card with all his information on it. What I did have in my bag was his passport and his codice fiscale (sort of like an NI number in the UK) and my ID card which had our address.
Then the woman couldn’t register John for whatever reason, so she asked another woman who turned up from the back office. Eventually John was registered. Yay! Then I could pay, get the receipt and go back to the eye department and hand it to them, phew!
So, more waiting… John came up the corridor being pushed in a wheelchair by nurse with his eye patched up, I followed them in. He was then allowed to get changed into his normal clothes making sure he didn’t bend his head. He had a few checks had a load of drops in his eye and was told to return the next day. All in all, we were there for about 5 hours for a 20-minute operation. I think I was more stressed than John with finding money and ID cards etc. Oh, guess where his wallet was, in his shoe, of course!!
Good news is that John is so happy with the results as he can properly see detail. They gave him a prescription lens, so he only needs reading glasses now. Which is great. It is like he is seeing Scalea for the first time again.
Lovely Visitors to Scalea
As Tony didn’t make it to South Africa, we were lucky to have his daughter Helen visit Scalea, which was very nice. Over the two weeks we met up with her at our usual places like Bar Da Pietro and Il Corsaro. We also went to San Nicola Arcella and went to a pizzeria called Johnny’s. It was great to spend time with her and I think it was good for her to see that her dad has a circle of friends who care about him.
Also, we had a visit from a friend from the US, Moira and her friend Rosa. They are lovely people, so easy to get on with. Hopefully Moira’s purchase will complete very soon, and she has her own little piece of La Dolce Vita. Then we shall see her for longer periods of time and hopefully more of Rosa too. By the way. thanks for the leftover food Moira, very tasty although why the hell did you buy a ton of lemons for just two weeks? haha.
Weather Talk, of Course
We have been really lucky with the weather, it snowed a little this time last year. Considering how bad it has been in the north of Europe, we have had windy and rainy days, but in the main it has been lovely very springlike. We have been able to eat breakfast and lunch on the terrace. It’s not quite warm enough for dinner though as the sun has gone by then and is chilly. We’ve pottered about in our little garden, pruned our fig and pear tree. I am also trying to grow seeds again. Pretty much failed last year, apart from the massive Snapdragons. See my instagram post to see first of the large solitary bees this year on last year’s snapdragon that is still flowering here. Fingers crossed the seeds will grow this year, especially the coriander as I do miss that herb.
Well February is over, it’s a leap year so an extra day. I wonder what March will bring. We are returning to Rome. It is ridiculous how easy we can get to Rome now. This time, to see Italy Rugby Union take on England in the Six Nations Championship in Stadio Olimpico… well maybe.