November 5, 2015 at 1:49 pm EST | by Peter Rosenstein
Rome, the Eternal City
Rome, gay news, Washington Blade

Rome (Photo by Bert Kaufmann; courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

My vacation has begun, arriving in Rome Thursday around noon, unfortunately without my luggage, which finally made it 15 hours later.

Over the past year, I chatted with a nice Italian guy on Facebook. He first said hello after reading a political column of mine from the Blade. He was interested in the elections and my thoughts on Hillary and the Republican field. We have kept up a running conversation for the past year and when I told him I was coming to Rome he invited me to dinner and we arranged to meet my first evening.

He came to my hotel on top of the Spanish Steps, which you can’t walk up these days as they are being repaired. I found out everything in Rome is being repaired. Good thing I have been here before as you can’t throw a coin in the Trevi Fountain, sit on the Spanish Steps or wander into some of the other tourist attractions as they all have scaffolding around them. Despite this, he gave me a great walking tour of Rome as we went from my hotel to the Coloseum area, providing a running travelogue on the sites we passed. It was a warm evening and we walked for nearly an hour to the restaurant he chose.

Rome is lit up at night and even some of the sites with scaffolding had pictures being shown on panels over the scaffolding. Our conversations on FB have been all political and many of you who read my columns know of my obsession with politics and Hillary. So it was great over dinner at a wonderful restaurant near the Colosseum, Le Naumachie, we found out more about each other’s lives.

He suggested I let the waiter pick an entre and the pasta he chose was great. We had a dessert of cream and strawberries in a pastry shell that was incredible. I found out he has been to the United States and spent a little time in New York and Chicago, where his ex is from. Turns out he has met mostly Republicans so I spent part of dinner explaining why some of them are the problem.

His passion is also politics and government and he works for a major company keeping them informed about Italian politics, not an easy task he explained, helping them make decisions as they invest in the country. We talked about our families and it turns out he was born in the south of Italy, and what life in general is like for both of us. Meeting him renewed my faith in Facebook.

Friday morning I met some fellow travelers from England and a couple from the United States. Turned out the U.S. couple were booked on the same transatlantic cruise as I am. It was scheduled to depart from Civitavecchia on Saturday. Friday was a day of sightseeing and meeting a friend who will share a cabin with me. It was another great evening wandering the Eternal City and eating at a Roman pizzeria. Then back to the hotel and my two-week transatlantic voyage on the Celebrity Silhouette began. We boarded in the late afternoon and found there was an 8 p.m. LGBT social at the martini bar. We are well represented and made a host of new friends. Sunday morning it was up at 7:30 a.m. as we stopped at Livorno and spent the day touring Pisa and Florence. I am reminded how much I love to travel.


Peter Rosenstein is a longtime Democratic Party and LGBT rights activist.

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