Our plan on Friday, October 24 was to wake up early enough for a private appointment at the Villa Farnesina in Trastevere, which houses the Gabinetto delle Stampe, an incredible collection of prints and drawings which demonstrate not only the level of technical excellence in the city's rich history of artists, but also the history of the city itself, since many of the prints illustrate the landmarks and events of Rome's past.
Or at least that's what we were told about it beforehand. We didn't find out much ourselves that morning, since there was some sort of mixup with the private appointment and we weren't able to get inside the building that day. I Love Bureaucracy. But while we waited in vain for entry into the villa itself, we entertained ourselves by guessing the origin of small tadpole-like beings which swam in the waters of the villa's small courtyard fountain. Not enough water for a frog pond. Must be squirrel larvae, I insisted. Then we went back to our apartments, and I got a much-needed nap, before another Italiaidea language class, which I did not blow off.
I did, however, make plans (with advice and consent from Professor Goldsmith) to blow off the next day's class trip to Hadrian's Villa, outside Tivoli, not far from Rome.
After Italiadea class that Friday came yet another chance for me to be the wandering guest of Rome. Having agreed to meet up with a stranger at where else but the Spanish Steps (near the "Leaking Boat" sculpture), Mitch and I quickly ignored the first McDonald's restaurant in Italy, situated nearby, and instead made our way up the Steps and past the house where Keats died, toward the former Villa Medici and down the street, past a theater where "Stomp" was being held over, to a hole-in-the-wall restaurant where we got down to the serious business of eating Italian in Italy on a Friday night, and discussing each other's lives which up to this point we had done only through posts to an Internet newsgroup populated by thousands of fans of The Grateful Dead.
Mitch, ever the gracious business host, poured the wine and picked up the tab, while I reminded him that, in a friendly Deadhead bet way back in the spring, he had picked the Florida Marlins to win the World Series only because his beloved Mets were already spoken for, and now while the Mets frittered away another offseason the Marlins were, serendipitously, only a couple of victories away from making him a winner.
We talked like old friends who hadn't seen each other for a while, since although we had never met in person we were familiar with each other, and had common experiences, in a way that seemingly could be possible only in the age of the Internet. We retired, I to my cramped apartment in Trastevere and Mitch to his not-much-larger hotel room, with plans no more complex than to join a pre-packaged hotel-sponsored bus tour to Pompeii first thing the next morning.
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