When the Life Hands You Lemons, Eat Lunch in the Jewish Ghetto!

Alley in the Jewish Ghetto

I awoke to my cell phone alarm at 6 a.m. (!) today, which would have been okay, but I couldn’t turn the alarm off! This was not a good thing. I finally had to turn the phone off to get the blankety-blank alarm to shut up. I should have stayed in bed. But I then hopped out of bed and into the shower, only to find that we had no hot water. Michael had no hot water in his shower either, so he had to dry himself off and go outside to fix the water heater (this is a regular, and not happy, occurrence)! Not surprisingly, we were running late, but we caught all of our buses and metros without much of a wait and made it to Italian class on time.

After class I had to go to the dreaded post office to pay our Internet bill, which was supposed to have been paid by September 25 but which we found under our door on September 30. Because I was terrified of the post office, as you may remember, I asked Rossella, our Italian teacher, if she would go with me, but she couldn’t. So she gave me instructions about what to do and drew me a map to the nearest PO, and off I went.

I got to the PO and still didn’t know what to do, so I asked a pleasant-looking woman if she spoke English. She shook her head no, but asked me what I wanted to do. I showed her my bill; she showed me how to work the little number machine, which has three inscrutable options; and I was in business. I was about fifth in line, and the whole transaction took about five minutes! I left elated, receipt in hand! I now have no PO fear! (We’ll see.)

I then waited 25 endless minutes for the 764 bus to take me to the Laurentina metro station. When I got there, the station was closed. I don’t know why it was closed, but the people who were trying to catch the metro were an unhappy group. Last week I’d noticed that the 30 express bus that goes to Laurentina also stops at the station where we catch the metro in the morning, Piramide, so I decided to wait for the 30 bus. The first 30 bus came, we all trooped on (I even got a seat!), and then everybody got off. Several passengers in the back, where I was sitting, motioned me to get out and someone said in mangled English that this 30 bus was out of service (I think). I waited for 50 minutes total (it seemed like days) to get onto the 30 express, and I was getting grumpy. The 30 express finally arrived, and I got the last seat, so I shouldn’t complain.

The 30 express ride was quite interesting for me because I’d never been in that part of Rome, to my knowledge. The bus was PACKED, and it took about 30 minutes to get to Piramide, but I rode the bus a bit longer to transfer to the 23 or the 280 to bring me home. I hopped off the 30 express at Marmorata and waited another 20 minutes for the 23. So far, it had taken me two and a half hours to get to Marmorata. It usually takes about 30 to 40 minutes.

Finally the 23 bus came, and I got on and it was PACKED! I don’t know what was going on with the Rome transport system today—it was a disaster! I was really grumpy and hungry to boot by then! As we neared the Jewish Ghetto, I said to myself, “I’m going to have lunch in the Jewish Ghetto,” and I did!

I stopped at Ba” Ghetto. The food was just okay, but it was cute, I was in the shade, and the street scene is busy and fun there, so it suited me fine. I ordered a piece of fried bacala (salt cod—love that stuff, although this wasn’t the best presentation I’ve had) and an insalatina Milky (salad), which was supposed to have arugula, cheese, and some other mysterious things. I tried to order a glass of white wine, but the server told me he had only half bottles, so I said, “That’ll do,” or something of that sort.

The wine was a 2010 Yarden Mount Hermon white wine made in Galilee. I’d never had an Israeli wine, and it was quite nice! It said it was kosher for Passover but not “mevushal,” which means cooked or boiled. Because it was not mevushal, it would not “keep the status of kosher wine if subsequently touched by an idolater,” according to Wiki. I don’t know about any of that, but I enjoyed the whole bottle!

The restaurant even provided entertainment. One of the street musicians, who played the accordion, appropriately serenaded us with a version of “Hava Nagila,” and a Russian family, with a sullen teenage boy, sat at a table near me, ate pizza, and were all grumpy, too, because the menu wasn’t in Russian. Two English women sat near me and asked me what my bacala was and then ordered it. I told them to order Jewish artichokes, too, but they didn’t listen. If you come to Rome, order them!

My salad was a wonderful surprise as well, because in addition to arugula and cheese, it had avocado and anchovies! I was no longer grumpy!! For dessert I had a caffé macchiato, and I was ready to visit the Bernini’s tortoises, which were looking good!

So now I’m home after salvaging an otherwise ridiculous day. But I learned an important lesson: In Rome the sky is always blue!


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