Well, after 19 months away, I landed on Italian soil this morning. I must admit I wasn’t really looking forward to this trip because I’ve got a lot of red tape to deal with; in fact, here, it’s positively vermilion. But I’m glad to be back.
The Covid-spawned requirements to travel abroad were looming large in my life, but ended up being a bit of a tempest in a teapot. After grinding my teeth for days over whether I had the right docs, had taken the right test, had the proper statement about the negative result (test had to be within 48 hours of entry into Italy, according to all guidelines, and mine didn’t specify the time), I arrived at JFK to find that the test was no longer necessary for Italy. (Re-entry into the US is another story, As of now, I’ll still need to get a test within that same 48 hours somewhere in Rome, but I’ll worry about that later. Fingers crossed that that’ll change by the time I fly back in 12 days.)
In the last few years, upon arriving in Rome in warm weather, I’ve treated myself to a night’s stay at the Rome Cavalieri. As a rule, I like to keep my hotel to $200-odd per night, but I generally manage to get a room here for $300-something, and the splurge is well worth it. I come here for the fabulous pool.
I tend to think a lot about my late father when I'm in Italy because he loved it here so much and talked about it so much and gave such great advice about it. So, not surprisingly, I was smacked in the head with thoughts of him within minutes of arrival. Dad was a big fan of the Cavalieri. And my sisters loved to make fun of the way he suddenly copped an Italian accent when directing taxi drivers to this hotel, which was in his travel days a Hilton property: “To the Cavalieri Eel-tone!,” they’d ape him gleefully for the home audience.
Despite the fact that the hotel now is the “Rome Cavalieri, A Waldorf Astoria Resort,” the cabbie this morning still confirmed my destination by saying “Cavalieri Eel-tone.” Some things are eternal in Rome.
The Cavalieri pool is the stuff of family lore. My bratty little sisters grew accustomed to spending hot Roman afternoons there while my older sister and I were either working or heading back to or home from college. They still reminisce about it. “Remember the fries at the Cavalieri pool bar?” they say. “Remember that Middle Eastern prince in the Speedo at the Cavalieri poolside?” “Remember those cute lifeguards we met at the Cavalieri pool?”
Yeah. No, I don’t. I never spent hot afternoons of my youth frolicking with royalty and cute Italian boys at the freakin’ Cavalieri Eel-tone.
But I’m making up for it now. Sitting by the big fat pool with a big fat 16-euro strawberry frullato is a great antidote to flying through the night with a big fat crying baby —and some bigger and fatter crybabies —parked next to me. And a few refreshing dips go a long way toward remedying the vague feeling of headachey, punchy queasiness that can attend a transAtlantic flight.
So things are looking up.
Starting tomorrow, I’ll dive into the nettlesome property management issues that are the main purpose of this trip. But for now…it's into the drink!
The pools (there's a second kiddie one) are part of an elaborate garden bordered by those unmistakable Italian cypress trees or, as Sandra Oh's character in Under the Tuscan Sun calls them, "creepy Italian trees."