Aloha mai kakou e na hoa heluhelu, Ciao tutti!
I am having so much fun sharing Rome with Kalei. Like any good storyteller, I want to establish my connection with Rome before continuing with my tale.
I have lived more years consecutively in Rome (16 years) than I have lived any where else in my life. Mom (Hawaiian, Chinese, Portuguese) and Dad (haole) eloped to California to get married after telling my maternal grandparents that they were going to the last picture show. By the time my mother’s parents found out that their 18 year-old daughter had eloped with the 22 year-old Navy man from South Carolina, my mom was legally married and already expecting me.
I was born in Anaheim (The home of the first Disneyland), California, but spent the first few years of my infancy on Oʻahu (My grandmother forgave my parents for eloping as soon as she held me in her arms). However, mom and dad opted to return to California, where I attended elementary school (Orange County). When I was 10, they changed their minds again and decided to move back home to Hawaiʻi for good. So I went to intermediate (Waiʻanae) and high school (Waiʻanae/Leilehua) in Hawaiʻi. At 19 I began modeling professionally, which took me first to Japan (4 years), and then to Rome. Rome became my home base. From there I would fly to Milan, Paris, or New York for prete-a-porter (ready-to-wear) runway shows. Any way, so my life kind of went like this: California (birth to 1), Hawaiʻi (2-4 years old), California (4-10 years old), Hawaiʻi (10-19 years old), Japan (19-23 years old), Rome (23-40 years old), Hawaiʻi/Rome (40-49 years old). These last 9 nine years have been spent flying back and forth from Hawaiʻi to Rome to visit my children, Cristoforo (13.5 years old), and Lehua (17 on Oct. 23).
Rome is where I came of age. In Rome I learned how to drive a moped, a car, speak Italian and French, where I learned to cook, and where I gave birth to my children. When I was expecting my firstborn, Lehua, I had the worst cravings for poi and kalua pig. Plenty of my Hawaiian relatives made repeat visits to Rome and brought me all kinds of goodies from the islands, but I never did get my poi and kalua pig. Now when I am Hawaiʻi, I get the worst cravings for mozzarella di bufalo. You have not lived until you have eaten fresh mozzarella di bufalo made in Italy. As soon as Kuʻulei gets here (I know you are just frantic hearing about all these adventures, e kuʻu kaikuaʻana, e Kuʻulei, but no worries, we still get plenty adventures for when you arrive), we are going to Napoli and Capri, where in my opinion, the best mozzarella is made.
Whoops. I got distracted. Food does that too me. So do smells and colors, interplay of shadow and light. Beautiful monuments.
Ho! I am doing it again. Where was I?
Any way, Rome and Hawaiʻi are both equally home to me. Therefore, when Kalei and Kuʻulei asked me to accompany them to Rome as a friend/tourist guide/translator, I immediately accepted. I had just returned from a visit to Rome only six months earlier in March and was overjoyed to have another opportunity to visit my keiki.
I see that Kalei has shared her motorino experience. I am very impressed with her. She did not scream – not even once – as I speed full throttle over the San Pietrini cobblestones, weaving in and out of lanes, going down one way streets the wrong way (on purpose – I know all the short cuts – When in Rome, do as the Romans do), going into the lane of incoming traffic to get around the slow driver. She didn’t even hesitate to ride behind me after I told her the story of how the father of my children broke his femur last year while riding a motorino. I have to confess that four years ago when my daughter Lehua (who was 13 at the time) insisted driving my motorino and me being the passenger, I screamed my head off every time she wobbled.
I am also teaching Kalei to curse in Italian. She is learning very quickly. Soon I will have her curse the drivers who cut me off. Next are the obscene hand gestures. *grins*
Let’s talk more about Italian food. My dearest friends Anna and Orietta owns a fabulous Italian restaurant called Il Corallo.
Anna is Napoletana (from Napoli). She knows how to make her own mozzarella and other kinds of cheeses. She can build her own pizza oven from scratch. Her Italian cuisine is among the best that I have ever tasted. She taught her son Alessandro everything she knows and he usually takes her place in the kitchen while Anna makes her rounds to talk story with her guests. Anna is larger than life. If you think I drive crazy, you should see Anna on her motorcycle!
Whenever I am in Rome, I eat at Il Corallo. The prices are right, the food is wonderful, the location is right off the famous Piazza Narvona, and the restaurant is frequented by actors, actresses, starlets, play rights, nobility, and artists of all kinds. Additionally, I get to hang out with one of my best friends. Win-win situation.
The atmosphere is happy and you catch snippets of interesting conversation flying left and right. I took Kalei there for lunch yesterday when we arrived (Oct. 1) and the next day for dinner (Oct. 2). By the way, there is a 12 hours time difference between Hawaiʻi and Rome. Right now, for me in Rome, it is 6:21 a.m. on Oct. 3. I have already had three cappuccinos and am about to make myself another one. This B&B called “Gli Artisti” or “The Artists” has an expresso machine that is state-of-the-art and for our use. Kalei and my son Cristoforo are both still asleep in the room. Gli Artisti is adorable. We really need to dedicate a post to it.
Are you ready for the Italian phrase of the day? Now everyone repeat after me: Ma come cazzo guidi? Mah Co-meh Caht-So goo-wee-dee? What kind of &$%# driving is that?
All pictures are by Kalei Nuʻuhiwa and under copyright. Thank you Kalei for being our official photographer. My pitiful cheap-arse camera is not worthy.