Since I hadn’t yet found an internet point for sending a message home, Gino and I ventured out again to search for one. As we reached the bottom of the hallway stairs, the door to the bottom house flung open and our toothless neighbor with whom we had spoken upon our first arrival was waiting for us, hands on hips.
Her toothless smile had disappeared and in its place a frown furrowed her brow. She began to lecture me about the disturbance we were causing during the night as we clomped across the floor above. She pointed out where her bedroom was located and I estimated it was directly below Mom and Dad’s room. Knowing they often get up during the night, I wondered if that may have been the source of the nocturnal noise. But it certainly wasn’t as if they had been practicing Flamenco at 3:00 a.m.! I assured her I would ask everyone to tread more quietly so as not to disturb her. Placated, she retreated behind her door.
Shaking our heads in mild amusement, we continued our search for a computer. After being directed several times to places that did not have public computers, we finally found one at a cafe. The woman behind the counter confirmed, yes, they have internet.
She disappeared into the back room for several minutes and finally re-emerged with a laptop which she set in front of me. It took forever to boot up and, of course, had the typical European configured keyboard — very different from what is commonly used in the U.S. Additionally, since his was a laptop, it had no mouse and I was not used to using a touch pad. It took me a good half hour to send one simple email home.
Later in the evening, Mom, Dad, Gino, and I spent a happy hour, literally, sitting at one of the outside tables of Gran Caffe’, that popular bar on Piazza del Popolo. Ordering wine and spuntini (olives, potato chips, pretzels) all around, we sat and sipped and laughed our heads off at nothing. I asked Mom to tell us the story of how she and Dad met and the sequence of events up to their wedding. The daylight melted away as we listened rapturously to her memories.
On the way home, we passed a building with a plaque posted on its wall inscribed with the following words: “In memoria degli uomini affida le 36 vittime del tragico rogo divampato 25 aprile, 1982.” The next morning I asked Fabrizio about it. On April 25, 1982, he explained, a terrible fire had raged through an antiques exhibition being held in that building. The tragic fire resulted in the deaths of 36 victims, which the plaque commemorates.