Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Getting Settled!

Wednesday November 27, 2019
Rainy 65°F/18°C in Roma, Lazio, Italia

The photo of the father and his newborn son is a classic! Exhausted from the ordeal, the father sits
Father and Son
glassy eyed, staring into space while the infant sleeps blissfully on his father’s lap until his next feeding. The mother is asleep in another room until duty calls her again. The photo is from the Botula Family Album. The young father is my son Michael, and the infant is my grandson Alexander, whose mother is Laura. I missed Alexander’s birth by a week. You know how it goes with those non-refundable tickets the airlines are peddling.

Last May, when I arrived in Rome for my annual visit, Laura’s parents, Sergio and Annamaria, were on a tour of the Holy Land. Laura told me that they wouldn’t be back in Rome until he following Friday, but they would be joining us for pizza on Saturday evening. Sergio and Annamaria have become two of my favorite people over the years we have been under the same family umbrella.  Since Michael met Laura, back nearly twenty years ago, he has pretty much relocated from his native California to Europe, primarily Italy to be with his Amore, Laura! The couple has moved around Italy as career opportunities have arisen, but they have always returned to Laura’s birthplace – Rome! On the appointed Saturday, over pizza, Michael and Laura gently broke the news to their parents that Laura was expecting their first child – a boy, at the end of November. Even though I had not planned on coming back to Rome at least the following Spring, I knew immediately that if I didn’t return in November, I would miss the birth of a new heir to the Botula line, and I could NOT be NOT present for that. So, when I got back to Texas, I put in motion my planning for mio grande ritorno!

Now when I travel to Rome, I go for at least two months!  It’s like my move from California to Texas
Nonna Annamaria 
four years ago. It takes all the logistical consideration of Caesar’s invasion of Gaul; Hannibal’s crossing of the Alps in winter, or the Allied invasion of Normandy on D-Day. First, I must make arrangements for Lola’s care and feeding. My daughter Dana has traditionally taken on that assignment. She also checks my apartment for me and picks up my mail while I’m gone. The first thing I have to do is find a place to stay.

Generally, I’ve had great luck with the apartments I’ve rented through Airbnb. Amina, Mohamed and Stefania have been my hosts for some memorable stays in the Eternal City. But when I checked with them for this trip, their Airbnb’s were booked solid. Then, Amina came to the rescue. A friend of hers, Maria had purchased an apartment just a few blocks from her place. When Maria contacted me, she explained that her apartment was being renovated completely, and that I would stay quite comfortably. This transaction would not go Airbnb, but Amina assured me that her friend was as good as her word and she had already vouched for me to Maria. I sent Michael by to check out the apartment anyway, just in case.

After he checked Maria’s apartment, Michael called me to report that the apartment was undergoing a MAJOR renovation, complete with electrical, plumbing and all new appliances and fixtures. Maria is from Austria, he told me. She’s used to having contractors perform in an entirely different way than the Italians do their work. She’s not even going to be there to supervise and answer their questions. I don’t think the apartment is going to be ready for you. So be prepared! Sure enough, Maria called me about two weeks before I was supposed to leave. The contractors were NOT going to meet their deadline and the apartment would not be ready for me. And THAT, gentle reader is how I came to rent The Penthouse!

Usually when I arrive in Rome after a twenty-hour excursion across the Atlantic. I take a nice hot
Alexander Botula
shower, relax and deal with my jet lag. But since I was spending my first night in a hotel, I passed on the tiny glass coffin which masqueraded as a shower in my hotel room. The first night in Rome passed uneventfully. Michael took me home to meet my new grandson; I was re-united with Annamaria and Sergio, the other proud nonni (grandparents). Finally, Sergio drove me to my hotel where I relaxed until it was time for Michael to pick me up for dinner. The next morning, I enjoyed the continental breakfast provided by Hotel Quadrifoglio; Michael arrived; I checked out, and we were out to check in at the Penthouse.

The landlady, an affable Italian woman, quickly directed me to look at the view from the large terrace outside.  I like the E.U.R. district. I am very familiar with it. It is close to Michael and Laura’s. Its shops and restaurants are close and convenient. And, I have friends in the area. But, in her rush to show me the view, I missed the shortcomings of what Airbnb describes as La Vittorini Penthouse! I did not discover most of them until much later; one of them took two days to find – and then it had to rain. It happened after I went to bed. As I began to doze off, I heard what sounded like DRIP! And then another…DRIP! By the third or fourth … DRIP! I realized what it was. The rain was beating against the window, and the window was leaking on to my pillows. I moved the bed away from the wall. That solved the immediate problem. The next day, I had another visitor - Giancarlo, the building’s supervisor. (In Italy, most apartments in high density buildings are owned, like condominiums, by the people who live in them, but others are held as rentals. Giancarlo’s job is limited, but vital. He deals with issues that everyone shares. I had the heater in the living room on. The compressor on the roof was making a loud noise. It was loud enough that Giancarlo, who lived on the floor below me, could hear it, and he knocked on my door to see what all the racket was about.

As I answered the door to let Giancarlo in, my son called. As I was trying to explain to Giancarlo what the noise was all about, Michael – whose Italian is much better than mine, asked me to hand
Nonno MikeBo & Alexander
the phone to Giancarlo. They chatted animatedly for a few minutes, and when Giancarlo found out that the source of the blame for the noise was the apartment owner, and not me, he handed the phone back and made his exit. Michael explained that Giancarlo would take the matter up with the owner.

Thus, passed my first few days in Rome. Let me just say that my feelings about my apartment will never see the light of day in any Airbnb review, so I would take the opportunity to vent my spleen here, Just let me close by saying of my present adventure: the family part is wonderful…my apartment, not so much.

PS: I’ve moved. Details in the next exciting chapter of…MikeBo’s Blog!


[Mike Botula, the author of LST 920: Charlie Botula’s Long, Slow Target! is a retired broadcast journalist, government agency spokesperson and media consultant.   Mike’s book is available from Amazon Books. You can read more about Mike Botula at www.mikebotula.com]

© By Mike Botula 2020

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