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Zurers in Italy 2022: Tuesday: May 24
Day 29: Rome​

I wake up in the middle of the night with a sore throat and spend a sleepless hour worrying about the chance of a positive covid test in the morning. We get up early and self-test--thankfully we are both negative which reduces our anxiety. My sore throat has also disappeared.

After breakfast, we walk along the via Giulia to the Farmacia Santa Lucia for the official antigen test that will allow us to fly home tomorrow. We pay our money (Euro 22 each) and are directed to a small tent across the street where the tests are given. We wait our turn (there are two people ahead of us) and get swabbed....the swabbing here is much less vigorous and briefer than directed in the self-tests we have taken. The pharmacist says we could wait for ten minutes for the results but that it isn't necessary because they would be sent by email as well. We go and sit in a nearby park to await the results and, in less than 15 minutes, we get emails notifying us that the tests were negative for the virus. Needless to say, we are thrilled.

With the tests out of the way, we are free for the rest of the day but the combination of the very hot weather and the fatigue brought on by the covid-induced tension of the past couple of weeks lessens our enthusiasm for more activities. We sit on the roof for a while piecing and reading. For lunch, we have another excellent sandwich from Sto Bene. We then hang out for the rest of the day in the room. In the late afternoon, we take a short walk for our last gelato (lemon and lemon cream for me, fior di latte and stracciatella for Diana) at a shop around the corner and then begin the process of packing for our trip home. It has cooled down by the evening and we have a pleasant al fresco dinner at the nearby Hostaria Farnese. I have a very tasty rigatoni alla gricia (large pasta tubes with a sauce of guanciale, cheese, and oil), and a delicious plate of osso buco with mushrooms. Diana has an okay ravioli and an excellent plate of carpaccio. We drink a very good Rosso di Montalcino and finish up sharing a panna cotta with chocolate sauce. A very pleasant last dinner in Rome...

It's a short walk back to the hotel across the Piazza Farnese.

Tomorrow a car will pick us up at 7:45 for the ride to the airport.

Jim and Diana

Zurers in Italy 2022: Wednesday: May 25
Day 30: Rome - Home​

The day doesn't get off to an auspicious start...I get a call from our driver who tells me that there is a lot of traffic and he is sorry but he will be about 20 minutes late. But he drives like a bat out of hell and we make it to the airport by 8:30.

The trip home in brief: the line at the check-in desk for United was very long but a United representative saw Diana with a cane and whisked us to the head of the line. We still had to wait for a very long time for a wheelchair to take us to the gate (there was a lot of competition for the service and it was quite disorganized) but we made it with time to spare. The flight was long (about nine hours) but we both had empty seats next to us so it was fairly comfortable. There was another long wait for a wheelchair at Newark but Global Entry made clearing customs a breeze--all you have to do is get your picture taken at one of the machines and show the printout of the picture as you leave. Our baggage took a while to arrive but, with the help of the man pushing Diana's wheelchair, we negotiated the train to the car rental office with our luggage quite easily.

The drive home from Newark was extended by a stop at an inept Starbucks on the New Jersey Turnpike but we made it back home by 8 pm..about 18 hours after we left the hotel in Rome.

We are very happy to be back in our apartment. The trip turned out to be a lot different than we planned...but, given all the challenges, it could have been a lot worse. We got to see some of our friends in Italy and we ate very well when we were not self-isolating.

We are so grateful for the support and hospitality of Pamela Sheldon Johns and Johnny Johns at Poggio Etrusco during our Covid stay there and we very much appreciated all messages of support from those of you who were following our trip.

We still love Italy and hope to return next year. Stay tuned for Zurers in Italy 2023.

Jim and Diana
I've only just read about your trip and I expect you are well and truly recovered by now. It may not have been the trip you planned, but it sounds wonderful nonetheless.

I am physically aching to get back to Italy but the thought of crowds chills me, I'm thinking of a February 2023 return.

Zurers in Italy 2022: Saturday: May 21​

Day 26: Rome​

Good breakfast at the Residenza in Farnese but the air conditioning is still not working. It's not so bad in the morning because we can open a window bringing in the cool morning air and the very loud sounds from the courtyard below.

Our first expedition is in search of fabric for Diana's project...she had miscalculated the materials she brought to work on and needs more material to occupy her in the coming days.

After much research into where to buy fabric, we walk over to the area near the Largo Argentina, a busy intersection built around a large collection of Roman ruins. We take a short rest partway in a pleasant little park.

View attachment 36163

We first go to Artis, a shop that sells notions and sewing materials as well as some fabric. On this warm Saturday morning, we find a line out the door. Since the pandemic, the shop is limiting the number of people inside to the number of salespeople available, so customers patiently wait outside the door in the street waiting their turn. After about twenty minutes, it's our turn but unfortunately, their selection of fabrics doesn't meet Diana's needs. We walk further down the street to one of the big fabric stores--Bassetti. There is no wait to get in but we do have to wait for a salesperson to take care of us. The inventory of this store is huge, with ceiling-high shelves filled with bolts of fabric of every variety, color and pattern.

View attachment 36162

Our salesman climbs a ladder and begins tossing bolts of fabrics on a table for Diana to inspect. There is nothing that is really what she wants but she does buy a half meter that she hopes is close enough.

Now that we have some fabric, we need to find a pair of scissors that are good enough for cutting. The big store doesn't sell sewing accessories and sends us back to the first store. However, the line is even longer now, it's getting hotter, and we decide to put off the scissors until later. We walk to the nearby taxi stand and take a cab back to the hotel. On a whim, we walk into a shop that sells cleaning supplies, toiletries, beauty products, and lots of other things. The clerk speaks unaccented and fluent English, Diana finds a pair of scissors which we buy for 2 euros, and hope will be adequate.

Up on the roof of the hotel, Diana does some sewing and I go to a nearby sandwich shop to get lunch. The sandwiches are great--prosciutto, mozzarella, and rucola for Diana and a messy but delicious porchetta with chicory and parmigiano cream for me. And the bread is fantastic....an excellent lunch.

We take a nap in the middle of the day and I go out for a short walk. In the late afternoon, we venture out to the nearest bar on the Piazza Farnese for a prosecco and to watch the passing scene.

View attachment 36164

We are entertained by the arrival of a large bridal party---the men all in morning coats and fancy vests, the women dressed to the nines in a variety of elegant styles.

We go to dinner at Maureen and Franco's apartment near the Colosseum. She has prepared a feast--clams, shrimp, a large baked fish (gallinella), roasted potatoes and zucchini. We had brought dessert--an apple cake from the Forno Campo de' Fiori which is a favorite of Franco's. A wonderful evening....

Jim and Diana
I love following along on your trip, and the photos are lovely. Aren't you so fortunate to be friends with Maureen. I don't know her personally but have been reading her for years, and she is the most amazingly knowledgeable person.
We stayed at the Grand Albergo Roma....right in the centro. Our stay was curtailed by Covid (we escaped and isolated with Pamela Sheldon Johns at Poggio Etrusco). I wouldn't necessarily recommend the hotel but there were few appropriate accommodations available (elevator, central location, walk in shower) for us.

I wouldn't mind returning to Piacenza at some time but would need to find a different hotel.

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