Hello! Exclaimed The Deskman looking up from a computer/spreadsheet and then standing to greet me formally.
"Hello, my name is Erich and I believe I have a room for the night that I booked through an online reservation system." I blurted out (of exhaustion) and wiped teardrop sized beads of sweat from my brow. So if I had any illusions of being mistaken as a native at any point during the upcoming week this simple exchange answered that, NO! (Much more on this illusion to follow)
I took in the comfortably small lobby as the handsome young man worked out the details of my registration. I got the sense that this hotel was the vision of a person or small group of persons rather than a corporation. Little, tiny really, details left untended. Not missed, no I am sure they are on a honey-do list as long as the owners arms stretched out Like spokes on a Da Vinci wheel. There is quite a large dining room off of the lobby with surrounding terrazzo. Over sized terra cotta tiles, comfortable oversized but low and sturdy rattan furniture, large plain canvas umbrellas, and a low wall front the Hotel Borgo and provide a comfortable location for smokers to congregate and fulfill their addiction.
The terra cotta terrazzo continues around the hotel's southwest corner where the low front wall rises into a full grown wall topped with a plain canvas tent. The dining room spills though sliding glass doors allowing for about 150 - 200 diners combined. Inside the Hotel the comfortable dining room has well spaced, cloth covered tables filling the dining room like islands between a large built-in buffet against one wall, a wine bar against another wall, and a comfortable coffee bar fronting the third wall. With a shelved and mirrored back bar climbing to the ceiling.
The lobby has high ocean blue wainscoting topped with a bucolic scene hammered into a tarnished steel looking metal (aluminum would be my guess, but it could be pewter) similar to a frieze. running panoramic around the room with Plaster and lightly stained woodwork to the noticeably high ceiling where a lovely chandelier hangs in sparkling readiness to shine. I actually walked over to one of the walls and had to touch, I wanted to see if it was real or a clever visual. Real, even better, it turns out the inn keeper made the metallic frieze himself! There are beautiful large hammered images located throughout the lobby. All nicely framed and represented with a few words to each.
As I stood admiring the image on one of the walls the Inn-keeper approached and informed me that the particular image I was taking in is one of dozens of famous Italian locations; this particular one is of a bougainvillea decorated nunnery and chapel pounded in fine detail.
The room I was assigned was located up two flights of stairs or a quick ride in a brand spanking new elevator that is Ferrari fast and smooth! Comfortable, efficient, well equipped, recently refurbished with more amenities than I could use in a week let alone and overnight preceding a cruise. Everything new from the mattress to the oversized TV, fridge, and cherry veneered modular shelving, closet, vanity. The bathroom was clean, large, and functional with toilet, pedestal sink, large clean mirror, shower and bidet.
After a power nap on the firm mattress and a long hot shower I was ready for an adventure! The previous 25 hours of travailing washed down the drain easily enough. First stop; the front desk where the affable young deskman gave me directions to the nearest supermarket where I could shop like a Civitavecchian.
Whenever I travel I love to walk around and experience life like a native. Fortunately for me Civitavecchia is an average size city which either rises from the coastline into low rolling foothills with the train popping in an out through the hillside and two lane highway separating industrial Civitavecchia from residential Civitavecchia. My excursion took me approximately three miles from the Borgo Hotel to the supermarket with at least a mile of walking up and down all the pristine isles wide eyed and fascinated like a child on Christmas Morning. My walk took me past vistas of the bay and Mediterranean, across the highway and under the train tracks to an older part of the city dotted with small independent businesses and walled in residences from large single family homes to smallish apartment, condo, town-home communities all behind high walls climbing the hills past a few industrial strength churches (none of that big city pomp & circumstance here in Civitavecchia.) The churches are built for heavy use and deep prayers by multiple generations of the same families.
Waiting until I get to my embarkation port to purchase all the little things for a cruise is the tool I use to motivate myself to explore until my adventure hungry spirit has its own momentum going. I have added two bottles of wine, bottled water, sweets, Italian coffee, and a press pot to my standard list of last minute necessities. The store itself is huge, clean, and well stocked with American bowling ally sized aisles filling the center and specialty areas; Produce, dairy, bakery, deli, butcher, fish monger, and poultry holding up the walls. My only question was, could I escape with only a few slices of their finest Proscuito and not a half pound of each of the hundreds of cured meats, cheeses, olives . . .
As I stood waiting for my number to be called I perused all of the offerings and watched three young women slice, weigh, wrap, smile, and joke with the locals as they reviewed shopping lists and talked among themselves. Italian filled the store richly and offered the casual eavesdropper like myself an opportunity to listen to the cadence and flow of the language without the clutter of meaning assigned each syllable. As all this life took place around me one of the women behind the counter had finished helping a young couple pushing a payday sized cart and their baby riding shotgun towards the cashiers.
My number was called out in Italian and the next number called and answered before I understood that my turn had come and gone HAH! One of the locals had walked in and was flirting shamelessly with the hired help which is exactly what I would have been doing if this were my hometown market. Although I understood only the smallest fraction of the banter the body language, the eyes, the verbal meanings and double meanings of words and phrases would be obvious in any language. My Machiavelli in nylon, mirrored sunglasses, and wavy black hair looked as though he had just finished a day of surfing and I was enjoying all of this when all of a sudden the woman standing with her Mother on my other side caught my attention and motioned to see my ticket. Followed by a blistering blast of Italian that stopped all the flirting cold.
While I was waiting the Mother Daughter pair being helped took note of the slight.
Jaws dropped, sunglasses fogged in embarrassment as this woman took up the slight against me. She kept the rapid fire Italian going until she got the response she was looking for, that I would be assisted next. I thanked her, and her Mother was obviously proud (and showed it) that she had raised her daughter right. I shrugged my shoulders, laughed a little, smiled a lot, and life was back on track. As I continued my adventure I thought that as stunned as all in attendance were at the deli counter the young women working there were relieved it was the Daughter and not the Mother scolding them for their oversight!
Back at the Hotel Borgo I repacked for the next day and went downstairs for my first real deal Italian meal and was not disappointed in the least. At the front desk I asked about a cab to the pier the next day and learned that the hotel offered the shuttle service for no additional charge.
It was around 19:30 when I arrived for dinner. The dining room was empty but there were about a dozen other guests gathered around tables under the tent adjacent to the far side of the dining room. The Inn-keeper sat me out there as well which was nice since the evening was balmy and the tide had come in only a few hundred kilometers away. The menu was brief but well rounded with dishes that were obviously prepared from family recipes with love.
I ordered the tasting menu which included green salad, lasagna, steak, and choice of desert, with coffee and a glass of wine for about 20 Euros. As I waited for dinner to begin I watched the Innkeeper, his wife, and Sister (or Sister in-law) produced, served, and cleaned a dinner which technically fell short but was full of love from a small family full of passion for what they do.
I checked out of the Hotel Borgo feeling as though I had just experienced family life in a small port city in Italy which is exactly what had happened. I recommend this hotel highly and will most definitely stay again should the opportunity arise and I hope it does. The owners obviously have a passion for the building and inn-keeping.
I proudly support independent merchants whenever I am able and wherever I am.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Hotel Borgo del Mare, a 4 star hotel opened in 2008, is Civitavecchia hospitality benchmark. Located at 2 Kms from the centre and the port, it is the perfect accommodation for those who like hush but want to stay in town. All its rooms are finely finished off and provided with telephone, mini bar, safe, air-conditioning, Wide screen LCD TV with Sky pay-per-view, some of them with a wonderful sea view. The hotel restaurant will delight you with local delicatessen in an elegant and welcoming environment ... more less
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