Welcome to my family’s street

October 17th, 2016 by John Morris

Bordering the Vatican is a street named Via del Mascherino.  This is noteworthy because my mother’s family’s name is Mascherino.  It is named for an architect named Ottaviano Nonni, not my family. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ottaviano_Nonni

However not to miss out on a good time, my family, led by cousin, Anthony Mascherino, have always stopped at a local bar to drink the wine and the ambiance while sitting under a street sign.

Michael Petrillo and I made the long walk from our hotel to this destination.  Michael grabbed some poor waiter for me to talk to.  I told him about my family’s name, and I wondered if he remembers Anthony Mascherino.  The man raised his hands to his lips and made the universal sign for a handle bar mustache.  Oh yeah, he remembers him.  See photo below:

Next Michael muscled the bar’s owner over to our table.  I asked the same question, and he gave the same response.  This man, also named Antonio, was gracious and sat with me for a few photos.

Next time you’re near the Vatican, stop at Via del Mascherino no. 36 for a while.  Then post a photo on Facebook.



Italia, Michael and me.

October 17th, 2016 by John Morris

Choosing a traveling companion is serious stuff.  If married, traveling with your spouse is understood.  You do it because it’s what husbands do.  What to do if you plan a swing through Italy for you and one friend?  I suggest you choose wisely here.

Old time friend, Michael Petrillo said he’s like to take the trip with me in order to get a different traveling experience.   He accepted the restrictions of not making hotel reservations; not following a rigid itinerary and traveling using the cheapest methods.   He seemed to embrace my favorite form of traveling: just bumming around.

I did worry about two opposite personalities clashing.  Two week together with anyone will test friendships and family ties.

Preparations for the trip meant splitting duties.  Michael bought the plane tickets; I made the arrangements to stay in one of the trulli in Alberobello.   Together we made sketchy plans for what would be a fast paced journey for two septuagenarians.


Our first test came at Rome Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino.  After the long flight, we would train to Roma Termini where we would search the area for our first night’s lodgings.  We had it in our heads to stay at a convent or monastery.  We even had an outdated book to help us.  No way this plan would fail.

It was during this trek where I learned how sharp Michael’s sense of direction is.

Poor guy would walk ahead of me.  I do walk slower than he does, but I was also dragging a carry-on over Rome’s cobble stone streets.

Michael visited the first convent where he alone encountered an angry Nun.  No room for us here, but he did get another lead.

Overall we stopped at maybe three mainstream hotels and were rebuffed due to the “holiday”.  Ut oh!   There’s a holiday!  We decided to walk back toward the Termini and to a greater selection.  We found lodgings at the Le Duca d’Alba.  It was fancier than my usual, but it beat pushing on.

After we dropped our bags and showered, we went to the closest restaurant called Antoinella.  We often referred to this meal as the best one we had.

The following morning’s journey had us going to Roma Timburtina to catch the only daily bus to Teramo.   Michael figured out how we could take the subway to Timburtina for 1.5 euro.   I approved of this lower priced form of motion.   The rookie was showing me something.

At the station, we took great pains to make sure we were we needed to be and would catch the right subway.  Thanks to Michael and a friendly native, we were.

With this behind us, we entered into the maze that is the Roma Timburtina’s bus terminal.  We looked at all the signs but caught no mention of our bus or even its company.  Michael asked a series of clueless attendees with only confusion resulting.  There was this one information lady who did actually help us out.  Michael wanted to buy her a gelato.

When we were, at last, near our destination, we needed to get better directions.  Michael took control of the problem and asked bus drivers but to no avail.  I saw a booth with the small letter “i” signaling “information”.  I used my sparse Italian with her, and she used her English cheat sheet.  She gave me the departure time and station: “Stallo 17”.  You’d think this would end the problem.  Nah!  Finding “Stallo 17” would not be so easy.  The ever persistent Michael just kept asking and asking.  Finally we found it.

We were on the bus and on the way to Teramo.  After a two hour ride, we were at Teramo’s bus station.  Now all we needed was a cab to go to Maria Pia’s.  Oops again.  Today is Sunday, and there were no cabs.  The backup plan was to call cousin Vittorio, but I didn’t want to trouble him. One guy at the station said another guy said he’d drive us there for 30 euro.  We jumped at this chance.  The guy did get us to Maria Pia’s home thanks to my flaw-filled directions.

Somewhere through this journey from Roma Termini to Roma Timburtina to Teramo’s bus station to Maria Pia’s, I realized Michael will be a splendid travel companion.

Together we’d combine our individual strengths and make the trip memorable.

Next question: would one of us assault the other?



The old boy writing this blog wears many hats: Vietnam Veteran, husband & father, salesman and techno-dude. After my service with the Army Security Agency, I operated a sign company for nineteen years, The sign industry changed after CAD/CAM machines made the task easy enough for the non-talented. I sold my company and never looked back.

Life has granted me a life partner better than I deserve. My wife, Lyn is a transplanted Kansas gal. Her bliss is teaching kindergarten and first grade.

I am the most proud of my children. My son, Adam lives an international life teaching English and living in Sozhou, China. He is married to one of life's truly lovely women, Yuri Kim. My daughter, Beth grew up in a small town and found her way in life means working and living in major cities like Chicago and New York. She and her life partner, Julie Sterling married in LaJolla, California in 2010.

I like getting the newest gadgets, but also I like to use things until they are useless, i.e., my last personal car was an 88 Honda Prelude Si.

I wrote a Vietnam Veteran newsletter for nine years. During this journey, I learned I like to write. It is a harmless exercise that rewards honest effort while tolerating failure gracefully. I been away from it for too long. My son gave me the blog, and it was a lifeline back to writing.

My best advice is to show the world what you can do but to accept only your opinion of who and what you are.

Update: In August 2008, my job became one of the half-million jobs that went away that month. I took the following year getting the home ready for my official retirement.

In October 2009, I took a part-time job as a saleman at the vaulted Maxwell's Hardware.

On November 29, 2011, I reached my 66th birthday, and I officially started Social Security. I intend to stay with Maxwell's as long as I can contribute.