Mom’s Tour de France 17 (FGK 108)

I remember as a teenager finding an old sweater of my dad’s sitting on a shelf. I’d never seen him wear it, I thought it looked kind of cool, so I stole it. Turns out it was a sweater he’d bought at a market in Rome while they were there on their honeymoon. I loved that sweater, and once I wore it completely out it became my barn/riding sweater. One time I was at a horse show and there was another girl there wearing the exact same sweater. Dad had to go over and talk to her dad to see where she’d found it and apparently that girls parents also had honeymooned in Rome around the same time, and the dad had also bought the sweater at a market. That girl also had found the sweater while snooping and had made it her own. So, all of mom’s coins in Trevi Fountain were worth it – she went back to Italy several more times.

Part two of mom’s letter

During our tour the day before we had a world famous ice cream parlour pointed out to us. It is a place frequented by all the movie stars as well as those of us of more humble status. After dinner a large group of us, including Prof. Knolls and his wife who are as full of mischief as any of the students, took off through the little back streets for the goodies. The store is in the square of the fountains of the Four Rivers. These are lit up at night, making them even more beautiful than in the daytime. I think the poor people in the shop were a little overwhelmed by having a group of 20 singing Americans descend en masse, demanding the specialite de maison, but they are probably quite used to it because we all were served within a few minutes. Some of the kids had birthdays so we sang to them – with all the Italians joining in. I had so much to eat I could barely waddle home.

Thursday was a free day with no tours. Pat, Carol, Susie and I spent the morning finding the Yugoslavian embassy to get our visas. When we finally got these we almost drove the little man mad because he only spoke Italian and Yugoslavian. There happened to be a lady standing by who spoke French so she translated for us but I have never seen anyone so relieved as he was when we finally left. Pat and I stopped at the Fountain of Trevi on the way home and i threw in my three coins just in case I couldn’t make it back the next day. We also had a water fight there – much to the consternation of the policeman on the corner.

I spent the afternoon window shopping – I wish you could see the beautiful things they have in Italy. It just killed me not to buy anything. Fabulous sweaters only cost about $10.00 and the purses, gloves and shoes – oo la la!

While I was wandering around I came upon a splendid fountain in front of the terminal. It really was a fountain to end all fountains. I spent about 15 minutes watching the sun on the water. That is the fun of Rome. You never know when you are going to stumble on a magnificent fountain. I also explored St. John the Lateran. The church were all the funerals for the Popes are held and where they used to live. From hereI walked down to the colosseum where I hoped to catch a bus home. Italy is the only country where I would have enough nerve to ride a bus alone. The people are so warm and friendly I always have more than enough help getting on and off – when I get home remind me to tell you about some of my experiences on buses, I’ve gone some dillys. I asked the conductor if the is was the bus for Ponte Sisto? He said “si” but made all sorts of gestures which I couldn’t understand. Since the bus definitely went to my stop I decided to get on anyway. An hour later I discovered what the gestures meant. Before ending up at Ponte Sisto the bus makes a route all over the city! Well that’s one way to see Rome.

Friday morning we left bright and early for Tivoli. First we visited Hadrian’s villa. This is the size of a small city and it is just incredible to see the luxury which existed at this time. By this time we were experts at climbing over ruins. Two of the boys disappeared underground in the sewer system only to pop up in front of us while we were studying the mosaics in the sun room. The guide was a little perturbed but the boys had a wonderful time. This trip also gave us an opportunity to see some Italian countryside. As our buses climbed up the mountain to the fountains of Tivoli we had vistas which stretched out as far as Rome. The fountains themselves were glorious. There is an enormous garden which is full of every type of flower imaginable. In places there are long walks stretching out lined with fountains on either side of them with one enormous one at the end. You have probably read about the organ fountain which is also there.

Our bus took us a little farther along the road to a viewpoint where we could see two enormous waterfalls tumbling down the mountain side into a valley with vineyards on the hills and pastures in the bottom. There was a tiny little church perched on the top of the hill with a narrow little path leading up to it. We ate our lunch while perched on the wall overlooking all this. The tour continued in the afternoon to some more ancient temples and villas but I returned on an early bus with some others who were feeling the effects of the Roman hikes, to have a two hour sleep. I woke up just in time to dash out with Gail and Pat to throw another coin in the fountain and eat a doughnut in front of it before dinner. We were planning a birthday party for one of the boys so had to get back early. That was my 4th coin in the fountain – for an extra strong wish to return to Rome again. After dinner we just had time to pack and take a bus to the station. You never saw a tireder more loaded down group in your life. No one wanted to come back to Tours. Most of us spent the two nights and a day on the train trying to recuperate – without much success. Some of the kids had their guitars along so there was more singing than sleeping.

We reached Tours at 2:30am this morning (Sunday). We didn’t get to bed until 4:30 though. I was really glad to see it!! Suzanne invited Gail and I to her place for lunch. It was just wonderful. We are starting to feel that we can be at home in her home. In France, this is really something. As usual they sent us away from their place just loaded down with food. She is just a darling girl.

All my Xmas cards will be late because I ordered some and they still haven’t arrived. This really makes me sad. Please tell everyone to hold on, they’ll come one of these days. Don’t expect to hear too much from me between now and the 15th as we are having our exams. I really don’t know how I”m going to do – they could be bad news. But I think the education I’ve received outside of the classroom will make up for some bad grades (I hope). The competition here is rough as most of the kids are outstanding Stanford students. The more I talk about it the more scared I get. Guess I’d better get to work.

Wish me luck with my finals. I need it!!




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