In the spring of 2013 a quiz about Rome was offered to every single human on Earth. Unbeknownst to quiz takers, the person that scored the lowest would be awarded a day trip to Rome. Due to war, famine, conjestion on the 405 and altitude sickness only 4.27 billion people took the quiz. Coming in last place with a score of .00003% on the 999 question quiz was Elixzabeth "Go Go" Hong, a cook from California. The following is an account of her six hours in the Eternal City on July 23, 2013 with her hosts MIchael Krikorian and Nancy Silverton who were on the .18th day of their summer trip to Italy
TASS News Agency, Mosocw, July 24. 2013
EDITOR'S NOTE, - The copy editor's strike at KrikorianWrites continues with no end in site, Or is that sight.
"Go Go says she will be easy to spot," Nancy Silverton told me as I parked in a restricted area in front of Terminal 3 at Leonardo Da Vinci Aeroporti outside of Rome shorlty after 9 a. m. Tuesday morning. "She says she is the only Asian in the entire airport."
As I exited our red Fiat rental car, a man holding up what i guessed was a special parking pass yelled at me in Romanese for taking his spot. I yelled back in Comptonese.
I ran across a construction zone to the waiting area. There were dozens of Asians, but Liz was easy to spot. She had on the shortest black dress of anyone in the airport.
The drive from the airport to Rome centro was slow, but after about 35 minutes, we were there, first encountering thousands of people in line outside of an austere building with tall walls.
"What are all those people waiting in line for?" Hong asked.
"That's the Vatican," Nancy said. "There're going to see the Sistine Chapel."
"That's stupid. Only one day in Rome and they waste it in line."
I considered telling her that these people were not, like her, in Rome for only a few hours. That some of them had planned their entire vacation about going to the Vatican. About the treasure in the Vatican Museum About Raphael's "School of Athens", But, why bother?
As we drive away, Go Go has a question about who lives there. "The pope", Nancy tell her.
"Is it still Paul John. I mean John Paul. The second, right? Or is it the first? No, it's the second, right?"
Yeah, Liz. Sure you're right.
I drive on and on, in search of a parking spot while Nancy points out landmarks. "There's the Forum, Liz. And Trajan's Market."
No reaction. None. A minute later, Liz is actually impressed by Rome's most famous ruin. the Coliseum. "I've been to the Coliseum!," she announces to the world. From then on. whenever we see a souvenir Coliseum, Hong blurts out "I've been there!"
We park somewhere near the old Soviet Union and walk and walk and walk.. Finally the Campo di Fiori, to the bakery that inspired the pizza dough at Mozza, "Forno Campo de' Fiori. Then to the bakery's sandwich shop next door. Three sandwiches (Zucchini blossoms and mozzarella, prosciutto cotto and mozzarella and mortadella and arugala, for 10 and half Euro. ) Then we go to lunch at Roscioli just down a lane from the Campo De' Fiori..
An hour of gluttony ensue, endng with Liz grabbing the lefeovers of our mixed salumi plate, opening up the one leftover sandwich, the mortadlla one. and stuffing it with the salumi platter leftovers. Roscioli. was good, but not superb like i have remembered it to be. We had a pasta carbonara, one of their specialities, that was so rich it became dull. And burrata. What an inspired order, I tell Nancy and Liz. LIke you dont deal with burrata every day of the year. Nancy and Liz even order a main course. known in these parts as "secondi". of meatballs and tagliata, sliced steak. These two dishes. prove to be foolish choices, Secon-dudes.
That plate of salumi and cheese is nothing to write home about. unless you like to write home about mediocrity. Chad Colby's stuff would blow this out. The highlight is a sheep's milk cheese with a name I couldn't understand. I tell Nancy and LIz I'm gonna ask the server to say it again so I can increase my cheese knowledge. But my interest in cheese dimshes with each bite of food. I'm getting full and the last thing i need to find out is some cheese's name.
We go out into the hot Roman sun and into the Piazza Navona with its striking 17th century Fountain of the Four Rivers by Bernini. Again, LIz seems unimpressed. She snaps a photo without much wonder or any questions about the piazza, one of the most impressive in Italy, other than to ask "Do tourists come here." I say nothing, but think to myself. "Is she serious?".
I asked her if she wanted to see one of my all time favorite paintings. Caravaggio's "Calling of Saint Matthew" at the nearby San Luigi dei Francesi church, I would have got a more enthusastic response if i had asked her if she wanted to see an abandoned biscotti factory.
She started seeing the sign "SALDI" in many shop windows.Nancy explained that meant "Sale". Everytime Liz would see the sign. which was often every three seonds. she would call out "Saldi!". Vendors, many from Senegal and Liberia, began to look at her with curiosity, A purse seller from Dakar pulls me aside and asks "How long has she been like that? It must be hard on you. Here, take a purse."
We walked to the Spanish Steps.. Led astray by Nancy, she was more interested in the shops on Via Condotti, the Rodeo Drive of Rome. We walked to the Trevi Fountain, where, back to the fountain. she threw three coins over her head.Two of them - American quarters - hit an elderly Malaysian woman on the forehead. The woman screamed "Tahi" which i later learned means "shit" in her native Malay tongue.
Ice cream time. To il Gelato San Crispino, near the fountain. Good if you near there, otherwise overrated.
By then it was about three thirty and we started the long walk back to our car. Go Go's day in Rome was done, but the memory eternal.