Sweet Stay in Rome

Believe it or not, that is the name of the B&B I am staying at in Rome. And I think I described it a little bit on my post about arriving in Roma. The entrance was not what I was expecting – but then this is not a big fancy Americano hotel! This is the real Italy – and it is right in the heart of things.

This morning I got up, took a shower and made my bed (which I never do at home!) and went to the breakfast room about 8:30 am. Piotr and Paola were there waiting. Pioter had asked me yesterday if I preferred an Italian breakfast or something like eggs and I said eggs if they could get them. Of course!

Piotr was all worried because he hadn’t been able to find bacon – only pancetta – and I said I love pancetta! So Paola and I chatted while Piotr cooked up breakfast. I had brought along the sketchbook (it was requested – I didn’t just spring it on them) and Paola began to peruse the one I just finished. That, of course, started a lively conversation. We talked about my trip, their B&B, my plans to go to the Vatican today – and I told them about my alter-ego, Mrs. Potato head – which they found hilarious. Little did I know it was an omen for the day…

After breakfast I caught up on my blog because it was pretty cold and rainy out. All I wanted to accomplish today was spend the entire afternoon at the Vatican Museum. No better place to go in the rain.

Finally I put on my raincoat and ventured out. Once outside, I immediately realized I had forgotten my umbrella. Drats! But I was not going back up in the lift to get it. I put my hood up instead. Wrong move…

ImageWhen it rains in Italy, the Africans selling umbrellas come out of the woodwork. And I don’t mean just a few here and there. I mean THOUSANDS of them. Literally. Every 10 feet. It’s like running a gauntlet and you can’t get away from them. And they’re not subtle. Even though I don’t make eye contact and immediately shake my head no, they stick the darn things in your face or they walk along side you chanting the price.

They stand right in the crosswalks or block your path if they can. And even when they are in a direct line of sight of each other – and you have refused 25 of them in a row, the next one is just as aggressive. As though you are suddenly going to give in and somehow think, “hey I need an umbrella!”

It is beyond annoying. And you can spot those who bought them because the first high wind turns the cheap thing inside out and blows it away!

So I made my way through that almost to the Vatican and did have a thought – but not about buying an umbrella. No, I remembered I needed some lunch to go to the museum all afternoon and there were no cafes in sight. Drats again.

Backtrack in the rain. Find a cafe. Order a glass of wine and a bowl of soup. Pay 15 euro! Ouch!

Back to the Vatican through the Africans. Geez o Pete – did I already say beyond annoying? And even in the rain I see a HUGE line winding through some ropes ahead. Oh no – is this the line I have to get in? There is a girl standing in the entrance and I ask. She informs me that the Vatican Museum is closed today and tomorrow but she can get me special tickets for Friday with a guide for 45 euro. Hmmm.

Well I happen to know that a ticket to the museum is 15 euro so I start asking questions. Turns out she is scalping and if you buy you get stuck in a big group with others. No Grazie!

Now the wind is blowing and people’s umbrellas really are turning inside out, so I figure I better head back to the room for a break and a new plan. But I had spied a bancomat on the way so I get undercover, get out my bank card while my back is against the wall and keep it in my hand while I walk.

When I reach the bank, I put in the card but the screens are different. This bank only gives cash advances. Uh oh. sounds expensive. I get my card back and walk on. I’m sure I saw another machine somewhere.

Well evidently not. I got clear back to the room and was soaking wet. And when I went in the door I noticed my bank card was no longer in my hand. Had I put it in my pocket? I immediately went to the room and checked. No card. I dumped out my purse. No card. I dumped out my sketch bag. No card. I searched my coat pockets. No card. And I just had it!

Paola called me from across the hall to see if I wanted coffee. “yes” I replied, “but I have to run back downstairs. I think I dropped my bank card.” She looked alarmed and I took off without even a coat on. I retraced my steps for two blocks – I knew I had had the card at that point. I didn’t find it and by the time I got back, Paola had come down in the lift to help me look. We didn’t find it.

Well, I’m sure a gold bank card lying on the street in Rome didn’t last long so there was nothing to do but call the bank and get it cancelled. At least I had the numbers with me to do so. Paola lent me her phone and even offered to loan me some cash! I said “you don’t even know me!” And she just said, “yes, I do.”

So I got the card cancelled and we had coffee and I went to my room for a break. I wrote to Ellyn and asked her to call my other bank and get that card cleared for use in Italy. I no more than sent that message than I heard the B&B buzzer ring downstairs. Then came a knock on my door. There stood Paola holding my card! Someone had found it and brought to the B&B! Well, I think that’s mighty fishy since no one here knows me – and we had both just been downstairs looking for it and didn’t find it. They said they found it on the floor in the hall by the elevator. Hmmmm…

So I called the bank again but it can’t be un-cancelled. Which is just as well. AND they told me this can also be a scam… someone returns your card hoping you un-cancel it and then they can use it too! Who knew???

So I was embarrassed to have told Piotr and Paola how lost I got yesterday and then how I lost my bank card today, but they were very helpful – way beyond what they would have had to be. So it IS Sweet Stay in Rome!

ImageAfter that I really did take a break. It was raining hard so after I laid down for a while I got out some sketch paper and made a small drawing for Piotr and Paola. It is the view from my room, which I photograhed yesterday when the sun was shining. The colors are a bit off in this photo that was taken in room light.

And yes, I did decide to go back out again. You can only stay in one small room for so long, so I bundled up. When I was going out the door, Piotr was standing there. “Give me your cards so you don’t lose anything,” he said. I laughed and handed him the drawing. “Take this instead,” I replied. He looked at it amazed and called for Paola.

“Now we have to get Starr a gift!” he told Paola. “No – this is for helping me!” (And they have already invited me to have dinner with them on Friday evening.) Then it was funny because they both got concerned and asked where I was going. “Not far, that’s for sure” I said. Just out for some wine and dinner.

Both of them walked me to the door and ushered me out like worried parents. “Don’t get lost!” said Paola. “Don’t lose anything!” said Piotr. I just had to laugh. If I do, I do…

Sweet Stay…

5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. the hungrier billy...
    Oct 31, 2012 @ 20:44:29

    no surprises here…

    if you want, they will send you a new card if you pass on your address in lucca to them. normally it is free too. i wouldn’t want to be down to one card if i were you. you will manage.

    hard to imagine how much is in roma to explore, enjoy it!

    by the way, i just made a turkey bacon tomato sandwich, bet you can’t find one of those there.


    • thesketchylife
      Nov 01, 2012 @ 00:12:42

      well, as someone who saw me leave my house and car keys on an airplane, I guess you wouldn’t be surprised… And yes that sandwich sounds mighty tasty about now…


  2. bdauby
    Nov 01, 2012 @ 08:23:24

    Glad to hear you are keeping your business savvy – it is expensive enough visiting the sites, so good to question anything at all that sounds suspicious!


  3. Ellyn
    Nov 01, 2012 @ 09:13:45

    Mom, you are a crazy woman! I’ll be happier when you’re back in ho-hum Lucca. Have a nice time in Rome! And tell Piotr and Paola I say thank you for looking out for you. 🙂


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