THE ZANZARA MOSQUITO AND THE ITALIAN MEDICAL SYSTEM
One morning the Queen woke up with a 'dime sized' red mark on her stomach. There appeared to be some other red areas close to it and it looked like the beginning of shingles. Our first landlord here is Rome is a physician (gynecologist) so we decided to ask him what he thought it was. By this time it was the size of a quarter. He consulted with a colleague who happened to be a dermatologist and he over the phone decided that it was a bite from the Zanzara mosquito. We had never heard of this mosquito but evidently it was from Africa and had been in Italy for several years. Our friend wrote a prescription for antivirals for shingles just in case and off we went to a local pharmacist. The pharmacist took Hynda into the back and looked at it and decided it may not be a mosquito bite and gave us the name of a local dermatologist.
We went to the dermatologist without an appointment and waited in the office like everyone else and we saw him within ten minutes. There were no forms to fill out with Hynda's entire medical history and no insurance card requested. He thought it was a spider bite and prescribed some antibiotics. By this time it was the size of a half dollar and was swollen, itched and was painful. The visit cost 50 euros and the oral and cream medication cost 10 euros.
Two nights later we happened to be at another Italian friend for dinner who was also a doctor and he thought it was definitely a spider bite and thought the Queen needed some steroid cream. This has done the trick and it is slowly getting better. Brenan who had been here two years ago had a similar reaction to bug bites and it took three weeks and gobs of steroid cream to get rid of the aftermath of his bites.
CLEANING THE STOLPERSTEIN FOR YOM KIPPUR
Since we go to Rome in the fall every year we are often here for the Jewish New Year. This year we were here for both Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Normally we go to services here in Rome for Yom Kippur but this year we did something else. In 1992 a German artist started to put 4x4 inch brass plaques in front of the doors of persons who were deported during the Holocaust and died in a concentration camp. It started in Germany but has expanded to other countries. There are over 200 of these plaques in Rome and we have seen several as we walk and bike around the city. Some of them look very good considering they are in the front of the entrance to an apartment building or house and people walk in and out every day. They are obviously being taken care of by people in the building - maybe a relative of the person who was taken away. Some are not being taken care of and are very dirty and can hardly be read. Some buildings have one and some have many. There is one building in one area of Rome that has 14 stolpersteins in front of it.
Stolperstein translates as stumbling stone. In Italian they are called 'pietri d'inciampo' which translates as 'stubble stones' according to google translate.
I went on the internet and found a site that had a map of the location of almost all the stolpersteins in Rome. For Yom Kippur the King and Queen decided to visit and clean as many as we could before we collapsed since we were both fasting for the day. I have included photos of the before and after of some of them. We managed to clean over 30 for the day.
Papagallo was a famous resistance priest during World War II. Not just Jews have plaques as members of the resistance and gypsy s also do. This plaque has been stolen several times since it was first placed.
Most of the stones have the date of October 16, 1943 when the Germans rounded up the Jews in Rome to be deported to Auschwitz. Of the 1,016 people departed on that day only 6 are known to have survived.
The fall means pumpkins… like in pumpkin ravioli, pumpkin gelato, pumpkin risotto, etc. All the markets have pumpkins to sell and you do not have to buy a whole pumpkin.. you can just buy slices.
THE GHOST BIKE OF THE BIKE PATH
On our ride on the southern part of the Rome bike path we came across a ghost bike. In the DC area you often find these bikes parked and painted white at sites of bikers who have been killed by vehicles. This intersection is especially bad since there is a sign warning bikers to stop as they cross a street where you cannot see cars coming. We often see bikers going through without stopping and obviously Marco got hit here.
They have put up barricades so that you almost have to come to a stop to get around them and proceed. We noticed that when the bikers now past the ghost bike they all cross themselves.
In a sign of the times there is a kneeling biker sign affixed to the bike.
Just like in the US craft beer is becoming very popular. We discovered a craft beer booth on Fiori Imperiali, the main street by the forum.
AIR BERLIN IS GOING OUT OF BUSINESS
The King and Queen were going to go to Berlin for five days. Morgan was going to visit some of his friends from Israel who moved there and we were going to meet up. We made reservations on Air Berlin, one of the relatively cheap airlines that seem to be all over Europe. Three days before we were supposed to go we got an email 'Cancellation Confirmation'. Thinking that we never asked for a cancellation we first thought this must be some sort of scam so we did not open the email but went to the website only to learn that Air Berlin was having financial difficulties and as they neglected to pay the leases on certain aircraft they were being repossessed by their owner. This was causing them to cancel certain flights - like ours.
Now we had three days to re-book on another airline. Air Berlin made clear they were not going to help with this effort but they were going to reimburse us for the tickets and any additional money it was going to cost to re-book. I found that hard to believe but they did give us a website to enter in our information for the refund and reimbursement. The re-booked tickets due to the late date were actually twice the cost of the Air Berlin tickets. The Queen spend several hours filing out the form in various ways and each time she clicked 'submit' the form just cleared and was not sent. Stay tuned to whether we get any money back.
THE NEW WEDDING RING
First, the story of the old one. When the King and Queen were first getting married we could not decide on wedding rings. On a trip to New Mexico we were with Dana and were wandering around old town Albuquerque and the Queen and her daughter wandered off leaving me alone. In a small trinket shop I saw a bin of silver charms for bracelets and was looking at them when I saw a plain silver ring. I tried it on and it fit perfectly. Taking it up to the counter I asked how much it was. The sales person put it on the scale and said '595'. I told her that $595 was too much for a ring and she replied it was $5.95. I said sold but before I bought it I searched the bin and found another just like it and one in the Queens size. I bought them and the King and Queen have been happily wearing our $5.95 silver wedding bands since.
Fast forward to this summer on Martha's Vineyard. The Queen took off her ring to wash some dishes at the house we rent and forgot it - leaving it on Martha's Vineyard. In Italy while she was away on a trip I decided to go visit our friend Magda who owns a very nice shop where we always buy gifts to bring back. The Queen said that Magda has rings and I might want to look for one there to replace her lost one. I found her a new ring and also bought one for myself - see photo. This one was 7 euros but Magda always gives us a 'sconto' or discount so the new rings cost 5 euros each. Five euros converted to dollars today is $5.95 so I paid the exact same price 15 years later....and the Queen loves her new ring.