We're ALIVE!! By Franco

Oh my God, where do we start!?!?!

So, let's start with the planes. First flight from Boston to Dulles was uneventful. Would have been nice to have more room, but hey. Two and a half hours later, we depart Dulles for Rome at 5pm in the rain. Thank goodness we left all that snow in New England.

The second flight was a 777. As many of you know me (Frank), all those years travelling with my jobs got me used to first class. Imagine my dismay of having to walk past those plush, comfy seats through business class and econonmy plus. What is this anyway. Six more inches (of leg room, you pervs) means nothing.

Anyway, we ended up in regular old economy class. I must say it was not a joy. Two babies and every seat filled meant no real sleep/rest on the EIGHT hour flight. Finally, we arrived in Rome with the sunrise (beautiful from inside the plane) at 7am a little ahead of schedule. We were optomistic.

Cleared immigration and got to the luggage carousel as it started. First round of bags, nothing. Second round of bags, nothing. You get the picture! Despite almost three hours to walk the bags approximately two gates, United Airlines lost our luggage. When things started looking grim, I headed for "Customer Service". Turns out in Italy it means the opposite just like in the US.

Somehow, twelve bags (including ours) did not make the connection. After waiting almost an hour and a half at customer service, we were informed that the bags were in London. At this point, they are more travelled than either of us. The bright spot of all this was meeting Donello and Jeff, two nice gentlemen who own the restaurant Five-o in Ogonquit, ME. Yes, standing in front of us in Rome were two guys, like us, who booked the same flights and suffered the same fate. We'll catch up with them back in Maine.

So what were we going to do? Of course being the seasoned traveler that I am, the rented international cell phone was in the luggage (bagagli - Italian word of the day). So, no one to call, no way to call them, and yes, the cell phone has been more places than me. We press on at this point. It was easy as we did not have to clear customs as we had nothing to clear.

The BEST surprise was waiting for us outside the exit. Lucia, my cousin, was unexpectedly waiting for us. See, our schedule was fun first, family second. Well, you know what I mean. We were going to travel first to return to Rome for Christmas (Natale - Italian word from yesterday as I owe you one) with the family. At this point, PJ says I'm boring you.

Anyway, we picked up the rental car (I use the term loosely) and drove to Rigano Flamino where were saw Uncle Mario, Aunt Adrianna, Romano, Chiara and Rodolfo and the cast of characters that turned our lemons into lemonade. Back to the car.

A Smart Car For Four. What four people (can I say midgets) could fit in here, I don't know. To top it off, it's an automatic, but has the weirdest shifter I've ever seen (and I've seen plenty). It looks like a manual, but has an auto mode. Shifts like you are just learning to use a clutch even though it's automatic. Have I talked about the size? Yes, size does matter. This car could fit in the back of my Freestyle without folding down the back seat.

OK. With that said, it's quite peppy and fun to drive in a place like Rome and is surprisingly comfortable on the highway. Let's ignore the fact that Thrifty claims it can seat four plus luggage, but we had to fold the back seat just to get our two bags in. Crazy americans.....

Well, by now you know the bags arrived this morning in Rignano, so we took off for Venice where I am sitting at our B&B writing this first entry. We skipped Ravenna, but rescheduled for next Thursday which we means we return to Rignano on Friday, December 20th. I'll tell you about our boatride tomorrow...........Ciao

P.S. Here is a photo of the Trevu Fountain in Rome last night. Enjoy!
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