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Wednesday, November 17, 2010


There is evidence of communities in Rome from 14,000 BC.  However, the official founding date is 753 BC.  Romans, of course, were the villains in The Greatest Story Ever Told, the 1965 movie with Max von Sydow as Jesus Christ and John Wayne as a Roman Centurion.  

Today, Rome is a municipality of up to 4 million people with the best Italian food.  There are 10,000 homeless, some beggars and a lot of street entertainers.

My first stop was at Trevi Fountain, where I tossed a coin for Pearl (as Three Coins in the Fountain was one of her favorite films):
and maybe something else, too, which means she has to find a way back someday.  Anita Ekberg frolicked here in La Dolce Vita.  Roman Holiday (you'll absolutely love this clip) also featured this attraction, which in addition was shot on the Spanish Steps:
and is so called because the Spanish Ambassador to the Vatican lives near here.  I've always wondered why Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck did not make a follow-up film of these same characters when they reached later middle age. 

I was referred to Al 34 by the St. Regis concierge for lunch, checked in around 12:46 after a three hour walk, and the place was only about a quarter full.  My initial impression was that I had walked into an Indian restaurant.  Guess Italy is like Qatar.  Halfway through my meal, the occupancy reached 50%, and by the time I left at 2:30, it was almost filled.  I had the set meal of fried squash blossoms (tempura of flowers and cheese), Trucioli al pesto:
followed by garlic, pine nuts, bacon and cheese wrapped in beef.  Halfway through this dish, a terrific tossed salad arrived:

The mashed potatoes, of all the things, were the most memorable.  The meal came with half a liter of a Montepulciano wine:
sparkling water, expresso and a choice of 20 desserts.  I selected a tiramisu just to see if it was different from those I've had around the world.  This one certainly did not have lady's fingers.  I keep saying variations of this, but this could have been my best Italian lunch, ever.  The cost was about $55.

On the way back I took in St. Peter's Square:
 No pope, but tons of tourists.

Let me end with something I don't quite understand:

Perhaps someone out there can enlighten me.

The Dow Jones Industrials slipped below 11,000 today, but ended the day only down 15 to 11,008.  The Chinese stock markets are continuing to slide.  Gold stabilized, down only $2/toz to $1334, and petroleum also fell to $80/barrel.



L. Chong said...

I checked Babelfish: "fermata" means "closed" or "stop", and "cavalleggeri" means "persons on horseback). I have no idea what that has to do with "HYDROGEN". Perhaps hydrogen gas is being used for some reason (fumigating trees?) and horses might be sensitive to it?

I'm salivating over your Italian lunches! Only quibbles: how come the Montepulciano wine is not labeled "Vino Nobile"? And potato chips with the Barolo and the Brunello???

Patrick Kenji Takahashi said...

No, no. Potato chips with the prosecco, which is okay for a pre-lunch drink, especially as the olives and almond were spectacular.

The Montepulciano was pedestrian, but the Barolo and Brunello were incredible. And all four bottles were uncorked in front of me.

Yes, I still haven't figured out that hydrogen sign.