May 10, 2011

Due espressi, per favore

NOTE: I’m going back in time to share with you stories that make me…inexplicably and uniquely me!  Because Sometimes I Forget I’m Awesome.

I don’t speak Italian.
But I know when I’m being cursed out in Italian. By a man of the cloth.

I also know I may be wanted by Italian authorities on suspicion of theft and/or child endangerment*. 
But let’s start at the beginning. 

A few (very long) years ago I was a middle school Algebra teacher. (I know, was I crazy?!) And because apparently I hadn’t lost all my sense yet, I decided to join a group of these middle-schoolers on a trip to Italy & Greece. Um, yeah, crazy nutso! 

We stayed at this lovely hotel: Villa Altieri just outside of Rome. 

Don’t let the exterior fool you. It does not look like a prison on the inside, I promise.
It really was a lovely hotel, with massive wooden doors and rustic stone hallways. Gorgeous. Things to note, however: it had very few windows but it did have a convenient exit into the garden. 

Oh and there’s also the matter of it being an active place of worship and residence for Oblates of St. Francis of Sales. You know…church folk and stuff. And I don’t say this to make light. I’m just not entirely sure who they are, if they’re ordained or secular, etc. 

Shortly after arriving and while the students were still in the lobby getting some lunch, the other teacher and I went exploring, to find our rooms and get our bearings. Here’s where it got a little tricky (part I). 

The first floor is the lobby & dining room. The second floor? That part is questionable. We walked into a gorgeous albeit small dark library. The old cracked books were piled on bookcases all the way to the ceiling. You couldn’t help but touch them. Two doors led out from this small library. Well, what are doors for if not for walking through?

First door led into a cozy chapel, complete with stained glass windows and pews and an altar. Just lovely. We peeked in, breathed a deep sigh, then back out into the library. There was some sort of reverence there that made us not want to snoop too much.
Second door led into an office, also stuffed to the brim with books. Beautiful, dusty, fat old books. Aaaaand what are books for if not for thumbing through? Turns out, they are not for touching….

Chi è?!

Chi è? Cosa stai facendo?!

*signals to the other teacher* Sssshhhhh!

Che cosa vuoi?!
Let’s go let’s go let’s go!!!
*book tumbles to the floor*

Io spacco la faccia con quel libro!

Ok, so I’m pretty sure he didn’t reeeeeally curse us out or threaten to break our face with a book, but we ran outta there SO fast! I still don’t know where that voice came from. It was like The Nothing, rushing into that office and rumbling in our ears. Might have been God Himself. Who knows. We didn’t stick around to find out.

I do know that big ol’ monster of a book hit the ground so hard it probably scared the receptionist downstairs! We high-tailed it back through the stacks of books and down the stairs, past the confused students, and out through the screen door into the garden. 
In straight-up buddy cop movie fashion, this is how it went down next…

We ran through the first garden (dotted line) and got a little lost but managed to make it out onto a VERY BUSY side street (star and solid line), and dashed into the nearest building we could find.

See where it says “snack bar?” Let me tell you, this was not your grammy’s snack bar. No Twinkies or lemonade or anything of the sort in this little bitty piece of work.  But I could totally picture gambling, extortion, and bar fights.  And possibly tattoos in a back room. I’m overly imaginative that way. But I might not have missed the mark by much.

So what did it really look like in there? Stay tuned…
*We did not leave the kids alone when we ran from the shouting priest/monk/friar/brother? This is not the child endangerment part of this. Not yet anyway. They hadn’t gotten on our nerves enough to deserve that. Plus we were still giddy from eating pancetta/mozzarella paninis and gelatos so the kids were tolerable. They had parent chaperones.

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