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Luck and love in Rome


Our second bike tour, a panoramic cruise of Rome, began at 5 p.m., and we were determined to use public transportation to get to the start.
With the help of several strangers, we were able to get on the correct bus, transfer twice onto the correct trains and select the correct direction to walk from the last station to the tour beginning. As I’ve attested many times in this space, Sabra and I have made getting lost into an art so it was with some gratitude for blind luck that we arrived at the beginning of the bike tour two hours early.
“What do we do now?” Sabra asked, and I replied, “it’s lunchtime somewhere, let’s look for something to eat.”
Sabra, who I’m sure wasn’t even that hungry, said, “sure, why not?”
Am I a lucky guy or what!?
The good luck continued as we found a cute little restaurant just a couple blocks away. We pulled up chairs outside in the shade and ordered what we thought were small pizzas. What we got were two gigantic but thin cheesy delights of heaven. I had the waiter take our photo and sent it out over Facebook with the caption “when the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie it’s...”
The evening bicycle tour turned out to be twice as long as the one the day before but twice as spectacular as well. Guided around back streets and alleys we found our way to the top of five of the Seven Hills of Rome. We saw many of the same sights as the day ride before but this time from a distance and in the warmer light of an evening sun.
My favorite part was a slow meander through the Trastevere neighborhood. Once a medieval working-class district it now features off-beat shops, sidewalk vendors, pubs and little trattorias– informal restaurants serving simple Italian dishes. There were so many that even at my six-meals-a-day regimen, it would take years to visit them all.
We got home late that night and went straight to bed as we had our first daylong bicycling tour beginning early the next morning when, once again, we had bread and sausage for breakfast.
We also took public transportation again, which proved to be rather harrowing, as it was a strike morning.
Back in the good old U.S.A., unions call a strike across their entire industry or trade after taking a vote of their entire membership, and stay on strike until a deal with management can be reached.
In Italy, apparently, strikes can be called without a majority vote and can end after a few hours. To the best I could figure out, this particular Monday morning, the crew for trains running between 6 and 7 a.m. decided to make a labor statement by staying home and eating cannoli.
Whatever the reason, when the train finally came, 300 people crammed into each car with a stated capacity of 75. In the ebb and flow of the crowd Sabra and I were separated. She was swept ahead, and for a brief moment I feared I wouldn’t make it on with my pizza partner for life. But with some effort and no shame I pushed to be the last one on board– or so I thought. After I squeezed in, a large man behind me lowered his shoulder to my back and pushed me into the crowd just enough for him to get on as well. If I’d eaten one more sausage at breakfast, I suspect part of the pushy stranger would still be sitting on the platform.
I guess some of my good luck brushed off on him.