I’m not much of a history buff at all. It just doesn’t interest me. Well, that is, unless it happened in my life. (self-centered, I know, it’s another one of my character flaws but at least I admit it, right?) Needless to say, old cities intrigue me, more so old cities in Italy intrigue me and frankly, the thought of going to Italy in the first place makes me giddy with delight. I love the culture and thus the reason I was super excited to visit Rome when I had the chance a couple of years ago.

So since I possess little interest in world history, I only remember the odd thing here and there… some ruler named Caesar, some Nero guy, a possible midget named Napoleon, something about Fidel Castro, JFK and a bunch of pigs, some remnants about a Chinese guy who made spooky looking clay soldiers, an overweight King here, a bird-faced Queen there…  I don’t know. I wouldn’t be winning any points on Jeopardy in this category, let me tell you.

All that being said, I did know a thing or two about the Roman Gladiators who fought in the famed Colosseum, perhaps because any images of these men I’ve ever seen were that of tight, muscular, gorgeous oiled bodies like those of Gods. No offence, but if they were sumo wrestlers I’d have no interest. (just sayin’)

As we reached the outer gates of this impressive piece of architecture I was awestruck. This building has been here for what – almost two thousand years. I repeat, two thousand years. Like, holy cow that’s amazing. How many freakin’ people stood where I stood? Walked where I walked? Clearly this was too much to think about for me because I was easily distracted by the locals who had dressed up like Gladiators outside the arena. While the others in the group were assembled in line, I was hanging off the fence with my face between the bars oogling at the men. Don’t judge me, it was early and I hadn’t had any hot chocolate (my version of coffee). As luck would have it, our tour guide didn’t show up so rather than miss out on the whole experience, I chose to quickly go around the arena and soak up any information I could in the short amount of time remaining. Hey, it was better than nothing. I must’ve looked funny nearly running from spot to spot as if one area contained a clue that lead me on a treasure hunt to the next one.

Yoooooo hoooooooo....Gladdddiator mannnnnn.....

And then it happened – I fell in love – no, not with the idea of being scooped up by a gladiator (although this has intrigued me a time or two), but rather, with a little white, brown and black fur ball I found sleeping near one of the doorways. I called him Sparta-cat.  So there I was in one of the oldest cities in the world, in one of the greatest buildings of a bygone era, in the very spot that people of ancient Rome had also been, and I was cooing over a dirty cat. But anyway, this isn’t the point of my post, it’s just a neat sub-point.

Awwww.... what a cute putty tat!

After visiting the Colosseum and walking by the famed Forum, followed by all the other wonderful Roman delights such as the Spanish Steps, the Trevi fountain, and the Vatican it was time for some shopping. There were plenty of souvenir shops, boutiques and other places. Being a hot-choco-holic, I couldn’t pass by one of the cafes without getting one. The French have mastered the hot chocolate, the Italians have not. It was as thick as molasses, and if it didn’t smell like chocolate I’d have thought it was motor oil. But hey, the Italians have perfected many things, so what if hot chocolate isn’t one of them, right? I love pasta and nobody can do pasta like the Italians. Nobody.

Once I threw out the hot chocolate sludge, I veered into a souvenir shop to buy myself a memento of Rome. I started carefully looking over the wall of t-shirts, found a couple that I liked and started finding them on the shelves below. The sales lady, or possibly the long lost Italian cousin of Genghis Khan (I had to look that up, because again, it’s history and not my thing), came over immediately. She looked annoyed that I was touching the shirts. She hollered at me, “Which-a one-a you-a like?” Startled and a little frightened by her demeanor (and the fact that she sounded like a woman, but had a moustache), I said shyly “The pink one.” She pulled one off the shelf, held it up to me, pressed it against my boobs and while I felt violated, I wasn’t going to tell her. I shook my head that I didn’t like it after all. She looked mad. Until this point, I hadn’t seen an angry Italian on this trip. This country seemed full of loud and happy people. Sure, some seemed a little serious at times, but overall happy most of the time. I wasn’t sure how to react to this lady at all, and wasn’t sure why she was angry to see a potential customer.

Ohhh yahhh... this was pretty much her...add some black hair, take away the beard, darken the moustache a little....

She points to a black one with a hand with puppet strings and the words “Il Padrino” on it. She hollers out, “Il Padrino?” I have no idea what she is talking about. She points to the image on the shirt. It means nothing to me. She hollers it again, “Il Padrino!!”. I shrug my shoulders. I have no idea what this is. “Il Padrino!” she hollers again. I shake my head and wonder how long we are going to play this game. She hollers it out more slowly “Il Pa-dri-no!” as if this is suddenly going to make me understand. I wanted to cry at this point. I still had no idea who or what this was.

Is it the playbill from an Italian play?

An opera?

Is “Padrino” the younger brother of Pinocchio? 

Is it a satirical image of their government? (if not, it could be one for the Canadian government..)

What is it? I don’t knowwwww.

Looks like the logo for a puppet show to me... just sayin'...

She rolls her eyes, shouts to another woman over at the cash who is equally unhappy. They banter back and forth in Italian and the other woman comes over and says “You-a not-a know-a Il Padrino?” “Nooooo, I have no idea.” I tell her. She rolls her eyes and says, “The God-a-father.”  Now, obviously I’ve led a sheltered life because while I’d heard of the godfather movies, I’d never seen any of them at that point, not the movie, not the poster, not the books, nothing. I had no idea who was in them, or what they were about other than an American crime family. Like “history”, the godfather movies held no appeal to me, so of course I had no idea who Il Padrino was. I’d heard of, and even mimicked the famous throaty “… make you an offer you can’t refuse”  line, but I didn’t know it was from this specific movie.

All this drama over it being “The Godfather”… a silly movie trilogy. Honestly, she was likely a Roman Catholic and I’d have thought she’d be more offended if I didn’t know the current Pope, not some old reference to a family mafia movie from over 30 years ago. Sheeesh!

Just so you know, I’ve since seen two of the three Godfather movies… and yeah, they were pretty good… mind you nothing to get hyped up over…. I mean, nothing to go crazy on a tourist over or anything.