It is Monday and tonight is the dinner at the Embassy. My suit is out, shoes shined, tie picked out. As I gave up suits for lent, way back in 2003, I will re-lent tonight and wear mine. Looks like a nice event actually - several famous artists and I assume politicians will be present. I will be tired - but not so tired that I can't smile and take a picture of myself.
Today I drove back to Rome on the A1 at a blazing 100mph or so - slowing down occasionally to get out of the way of someone going much much faster that I. The car has a sixth gear and I was able to wrap it out for about an hour. By that, I mean I kept up with traffic and remained within my comfort zone. People here do haul ass on the highway. We made the twoish hundred mile trip in about two and a half hours - including all city driving, stop lights and one stop for fuel.
I'd forgotten to tell one funny story - Paula and I were eating at a small restaurant in town - she thought the specials were awful and that it was a tourist trap. Anyhow - the waiter - a young Italian fellow with a sense of humor called Paula "Lady". So while she goes to the bathroom, he meets her in the hallway and tells her that I (me) am hitting on all of the ladies in the street and that she should leave me. He then promptly comes to my table out on the street and tells me that Paula has left me, feeing through the back door of the kitchen, and that he will help me find another woman. I can't imagine any waiter in the US being able to have so much fun.
It is now late Roma time. I have returned from the Finland embassy where the "dinner" was actually a grazing cocktail party. There was every kind of Finlandia food - and not exactly what I pictured for an embassy. I've been in a few US Embassies before and there is always a compliment of machine guns - and a room of secret electronic things. This was sort of a Salmon Fishing - Nature and Suntan oriented place. Not a bad thing - really - but not what I expected. There was only one guy at the door who was annoyed at having to call cabs.
Needless to say - I didn't really know anyone except Gloria and Ernesto. I met an Australian fellow named Andrew Rogers - with his wife Judy- a famous sculptor and a few other art types. I will see them all again tomorrow at a press conference. I called Mark and I texted Chris just to be able to say I did.
And so tomorrow morning at 5am - we head into the garden's of Rome where the 25 foot bronze sculpture "Unconditional Surrender" gets off loaded from its truck and constructed in the park. There is a Press conference at noon.
And now, the sculpture is up and running and looking nearly as spectacular as it did in New York. The press conference was quite a deal and it seems the whole sculpture garden idea is being well received.
As for local folklore - I shot a great portrait of a kid in a town near here. His name was Curio. We visited for a bit but unlike what I usually do, I did not exchange information. And so I sent the picture to the tourism secretary of the town to see if he could deliver it for me. It seems he knew the kid and wrote me back immediately and did indeed pass it on.
That's about it here. We are monitoring the ash cloud.