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Thanksgiving in Rome  

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Saturday, November 25

Yesterday was art, today is ruins - Roman Ruins that is. Today we are scheduled to spend 4 hours with Richard from Scala Reale visiting various ruins around Rome. Richard was an excellent guide who had just finished his dissertation with Stanford. He spent time explaining the sites we visited, suggested places to get good photos, volunteered to take pictures of our group, read us sections of ancient histories describing the sites we were viewing, and realized that it is nice to sit and relax occasionally. 

We left the hotel at 9 a.m. for the 10 minute walk to the Colosseum. I had planned, but forgotten, to ask Gregory if he knew where the theater was in which we would be watching West Side Story. I was going to ask Richard when Sallie spotted the theater just two blocks from the hotel.

We spent the next four hours touring the Colosseum, the Arch of Constantine, the Arch of Titus, the Palatine Hill, the Circus Maximus, and the Roman Forum. The day was beautiful with blue skies and the temperature in the mid-sixties. The day before had been wet, but we were inside for most of the day. Today we were outside and we couldn't have ordered a more perfect day.

We took a city bus back to the hotel. Richard recommended a small restaurant where we could eat lunch. He also drew a map to a gelato stand near our hotel. We had the Turistico Menu for lunch. It cost $10 each and included wine, a starter, a main dish, and a salad. We each ordered different items. I had a dish of meat balls and pasta. Pat had pasta with a wonderful garlic flavor.

After lunch we went back to the hotel and dropped off a few items before going to find the gelato. Hopefully we would have better luck this time. We almost didn't find the store. We first went down the wrong street before realizing we should be over one more block. When we got to the correct street we went in the wrong direction for several blocks. We did pass a grocery store and it was interesting looking around inside. Heading back the correct way we finally found our gelato. The place was actually a factory where they made gelato. There was a very large counter with dozens of flavors. 

After consuming huge amounts of gelato I waddled back to the hotel. We had two hours until the play started at 6:30 that night. I promptly took a nap. At 6 p.m. we gathered in the lobby dressed for the play. At the theater we found our seats on the left near the back, but with a good view.

What can I say about the play? Not much - to put it nicely it was terrible. I had seen West Side Story on t.v. years ago and knew the basic story - I also knew a little bit of the music. Now, what about this production? Let me just make a list:

Pro:
1. The singing was very good.
2. Parts of the play were innovative.

Cons:
1. The acting was terrible. It almost seemed as if the actors were making up their dialogue as they went along.
2. The play had been "modernized" but not in a good way. The dialogue was laced with profanity. Above the stage was a screen on which the Italian translation of the English dialogue was projected. It was interesting to note that none of the profanity was translated into the Italian.
3. Call me a prude but I don't expect to see nudity in a production of West Side Story.
4. Parts of the innovation just didn't work.

All in all I was extremely disappointed with the play and extremely glad when it was over. I was also grateful that I had only paid $12 for the ticket and that we hadn't purchased the much more expensive tickets for Aida which was produced by the same company.

After the play Alan and I went to the ATM to withdraw some money. We planned on getting some food from the local pizza place but every restaurant we could find was already closed. I finally purchased two sandwiches and a bottle of water from the bar in the hotel ($4). We then played Spades for the next several hours. It was the usual teams and we decided the loser had to buy lunch the next day. Sallie and Margaret had a nice free lunch the next day at Hard Rock Café.

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