Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Rome and La Sapienza

I made it today to Rome, Italy and flew Alitalia out of Logan airport in Boston on Memorial Day. Amazingly, the turnpike traffic was minimal during the afternoon and we breezed through the toll booths. As a consequence I had several hours to spare at the airport but enjoyed seeing the Memorial Day holiday travelers. I had delightful companions on the Valley Transporter shuttle and got a chance to catch up with Smith College news since I shared the ride with a chair of a department at Smith and her husband who were traveling to Paris.

Alitalia provided excellent service and the dinner en flight was delicious -- salmon with green beans, a fresh salad, roasted potatos, and fresh fruit. My seatmates were a couple from New England who were traveling through Rome to Istanbul to meet a friend from Odessa there. I even managed to catch a few hours of sleep.

The taxi ride from the Rome airport allowed me to experience the morning commute traffic which was very congested but at least many of the highways are decorated with blooming flowers. Plus I had a delightful taxi driver. We communicated in my Spanish and his Italian with a bit of English here and there.

I am staying in a military hotel close to La Sapienza, the university that is the venue of the conference that I will be speaking at. The lunch today was incredible -- the salad with cherry tomatos and cheese plus the grilled fish simply delicious. This part of Rome is not touristy and very few people speak English, which makes the communications interesting.

The temperature here is very hot and humid -- so different from Amherst, Massachusetts this past week!