Ro: Six or seven years ago I took a long weekend to Rome with a dear friend of mine, Renata. (Yes, I did borrow her name for a character in Pushing Up Daisies.) I met Renata some years back when I was planning a trip to Venice and wanted to brush up my Italian, which never really gets beyond the Ciao, Bella! or non, grazie, lei aspetto mio marito (no thanks, I'm waiting for my husband) stage.
Renata stayed with her aunt and uncle, Benita and Renzo. Renzo is a writer of some reknown in Italy and Benita, well, try to imagine an Italian Simone Signoret. I was besotted. I stayed at The Hassler (this was before I was a writer and still had a few bucks) and I drank in the bar and walked up and down the Spanish Steps as if I were Audrey Hepburn looking for Gregory Peck.
It was wonderful trip., and a touch glamorous. Renata writes for an Italian fine arts magazine and one evening she and her editor, Nuccio had something special planned for us. We drove out of Rome to a small town I'd never heard of where we went to the theatre and, as Renata has recently reminded me, the local opera house was opened for us so that we could tour the landmark building. Afterwards we went to a restaurant wheere they treated like us visiting celebs..but I think they treated everyone that way, I was just more used to the typical surly New York waitstaff. After dinner at 11pm and much wine i slept most of the way back to Rome. I kept the postcard from L'Aquila on my fridge for years..until we renovated and I had to take everything off the refrigerator.
I am heartbroken to learn of the earthquake in L'Aquila. Here's a link to a Guardian article on this medieval university town. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/apr/07/laquila-italy-earthquakee