Aloha kakou e na hoa heluhelu (Greetings to our reading friends),
Today was a day where time seemed to mix together. Alohalani and I walked from our B&B to the Colosseum. It’s roughly a five mile walk, give or take a
few feet. The walking was good as we have been eating more than we
normally do. We walked pretty quickly along the early morning streets. The lighting was perfect for photos. Kinda hard to take
a bad photo with Roman scenery as colorful and picturesque. The first thing we come upon is a lovely flower shop with yellow sunflowers as bright as our sun rising in the east. We pass restaurants with smells of fresh baked pastries and cappuccino, newstands with the latest about the disastrous mudslides down south. The morning light
brings out the reds, oranges and golds of the red brick walls all around us. The same colors again revealed to us by our welcoming sunflowers. Cars are bustling about as Sunday is the busiest day for the vatican and other historical sites.
We cross bridges that pass over the Tiber River and up through narrow streets. The cacophony of church bells resonate throughout the alleyways with discordant clangs reminiscent of someone hitting cast iron kettles.
We continue on as folks pass us on their way to Sunday services. The architecture here is so different here. Craftsmen still pride themselves over their work. Door knobs are not just doorknobs. They’re works of art. Light fixtures become dragons. Wind sills become art. We stop for a quick bite to eat. You must stand at the counter to drink your cappuccino and eat your chosen meal. For us this morning we had mozzarella and tomato sandwiches with the crusts cut off. You quickly
eat and drink as others are also waiting to eat as well. Off we continue towards history. We first stop at the foot of the Capitoline Hill and see modern buildings with winged bronze figures and chariots pulled by fierce horses next to broken remnants of fresco red brick walls a juxtaposition of what we are about to find just around the corner.
Then we climb up these majestic steps guarded by black marbled lions and the ancient twin gods Castor & Pollux, Nanamua & Nanahope themselves. We are standing on Capitoline Hill being watched by impending Roman statues. They look down upon us as if to remind us that we are short timers and they will be standing long after we’ve gone. This courtyard and buildings were designed by Michael Angelo himself in the 1500s. I’m thinking to myself that the Kaulike dynasty is ruling on Maui simultaneously. Trippy. We come upon Marcus Aurelius as he sits nobly upon his menacing steed. Romulus and Remus are also seen watched over by Minerva, the goddess of wisdom born of her father’s brain. I am quickly reminded of our Goddess Haumea who also was in her latter life born of the brain. I thought of Kamohoali’i who is also the keeper of ancestral memories, also born of his mother’s brain. Hoihoi keia ia’u. Romulus and Remus are set afloat the Tiber river to be saved and nursed by an Estruscan wolf mother. Remus is given the country but Romulus is given the treasury, the means to overcome and conquer over his brother. Very similar to Maui, Hakau & ‘Umi, Kiwala’o & Kamehameha. I cannot help but find similarities in Hawaiian & Roman history.
We come upon the Forum and walk through the prison of the apostles. We marvel at the great columns and remnant structures that are still standing, some 2,500 years later. The bits and pieces of once imperial buildings are strewn about on the ground. Remaining cobblestone pathways with ancient chariot ruts are reminders of the activity that once occurred here. The ali’i hill known as Palatino Hill looms over us with beautiful citrus, olive and flower laden gardens. Grottos, fountains and sounds of flowing water remind me that those who own water yield power.
Our next visit is the colosseum. I cannot help but remember Chuck Norris and Bruce Lee’s final battle played out within one of these circled walls. So silly, but that’s my immediate connection to the place. When you walk into the place the burnt and blacken walls remind you quickly about the fiery siege that took place at the fall of Rome. When we walk through the entry ways and find ourselves surrounded by the massive circular and arched walls one cannot help but feel small and insignificant. The central lower alleys and rooms quickly remind you of the horrified fascination some must’ve felt for the crazed gladiators and hungry exotic animals fighting one another. They say that the very first elevators were built here and that the whole colosseum was covered by a canopied top. Wow! Simply marvelous….. These iwi koena, remnant skeletons, of a society which once owned nearly the whole world are wondrous indeed.
We leave knowing that we must return as we really didn’t get to spend time in other areas. So I suppose we shall do that tomorrow. Stay tuned for the next posting of Hawaiians in Italy.
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.
It’s the second day here in Roma and today was quite the adventure. Let me tell you about my very first Motorino ride, which happened to be yesterday. After walking around for hours waiting to see Cristoforo (Alohalani’s son) we came upon a motorino rental store. A motorino is what we call a moped at home. It looks the same as any other moped only the folks here in Italy have their own rules for motorino drivers. Before I launch into this story, let me preface with facts. Fact #1,
have never driven a moped before…. Ever. Fact #2, I’ve never ridden a moped before either. My only recollection of a moped in my younger years was kind of tragic. I remember my father once got on a moped and started down a small hill then at the bottom he hit the gravel and then got thrown onto the pavement. So when we walked into this store, that was the
story that was swimming around in my head. But I figure, when in Rome… right?
Anyway, the rental agent handed us some head panties which were to be placed into the helmets to keep us from getting ukus or something. I’m not sure. I just did it. I climb on to the motorino first because I’m the one
being packed along. Alohalani is the driver. We don our head pantied helmets and zoom…. Off we go. I had a grin from ear to ear but then I remember the number one rule for motorcycle riding which is….. Shut your
mouth or you’re gonna eat bugs.
Then we get into traffic and the grin disappeared. There are no rules for motorinos. They zip in and out, up and down, between cars, in front of buses, in back of trucks and side by side other crazy ass motorino-ans. I decided I would only look to the side and not forward. BIG mistake. Then I thought maybe I should trust in Alohalani’s skills which I did and then all I could do was cling on to the side bars or Alohalani. The only problem was that I hadn’t put away my camera or the camera bag so one hand was to hold those, and the other was to grip on the side bar. Then my knees went into horse rider mode and clamped down onto the sides of the seat. My thoughts were, “it is better to take the fall than to lose my camera an
y day.” We zipped in and out of traffic, zoomed forward, switched back and forth like the z trails on the Waipi’o valley face or the Makali’i tacking on the sea. Hawaiians on motorinos like we were navigating ourselves through the rough Pailolo channel. We got back in one piece exhilarated and wind blown.
Today was my second day on the motorino and we actually were zipping along on highways, back alleys and street corners full of people, historical sites and cobblestones that have memories of horse drawn chariots. So this time I was ready. Camera bag on back…. check. Camera around the neck… check. And stink eye for any car brazen enough to honk at us, Va fan culo!…Check! I love learning Italian swear words……
The only complaint I have is that I still cannot get off the motorino without getting my legs stuck on some part of the seat. Shit….. So much for ack’ing cool….. Tomorrow will be another day of dashing and flashing through cobblestone streets and historical sites. I think I’ll do some yoga before I get on the motorino. Buno Fortuna, Tsa!
Alohalani and I arrived safely this morning in Rome after a grueling but uneventful 36 hour plane ride. We were’nt tired when we arrived at our B&B so instead we went walking and walked to the Tiber river and many of the other sites. Please check out the latest photos on the first day in Rome. Lunch today was real pizza. It didn’t taste anything like what they have back home. It was a smooth cheese pizza that had a lovely tomato sauce that wasn’t “garlicy” or full of oregano. ‘Ono loa.
The buildings are ancient but have character. The churches here are gorgeous and the statues, sculptures and art seem alive. We saw Bernini’s fountains and walked on cobblestones that were older than formation of the American government.
We walked all over the central area. Had some really excellent Tokkai wine and real foccascia. The food is great, our room is gorgeous and we bought vegetables from the market. We also went to the butcher’s shop for prosciutto that had various aged meats and the best mozzarella cheese I’ve ever eaten. The birra wasn’t that great, but every wine I’ve had has been ‘ono loa. The people are courteous and kind. Everything is old and functioning in Italy. What a great way to start the vacation.