My Xmas gifts for 2016 or, if Trump likes coal …

Who has been  naughty this year?

Who has been naughty this year?

Buon Natale, tutti. It’s Christmas time and the North Pole isn’t the only place with a Santa Claus. There’s also another in Rome, in the homey neighborhood of Testaccio about two miles south of the Colosseum. This Santa isn’t quite as fat and not nearly as pleasant. In fact, after 2016, this Santa is pretty pissed off.

It’s me.

I will be delivering lots of presents Saturday night. I will mostly sprinkle them around Rome but also have a special delivery to New York. Does Trump Tower have a chimney or does Donald Trump let his Mexican house cleaners in through the lobby door?

Here’s my list of gifts for all those who were naughty and nice in 2016. Guess who was the most naughty.

Donald Trump: A First Amendment toilet bowl mat. Fuckface von Clownstick is pissing on free speech already. Why not let him take some target practice?

PosteItaliane: The Budweiser Clydesdales. With Italy’s first Pony Express, our mail will be delivered faster than it is now.

Jude Law

Jude Law

Jude Law: An Emmy. His performance in “The Young Pope,” the 10-part HBO series that starts in the U.S. Jan. 15, is astounding. I saw it up close as an extra but you Americans will see for yourself from your living rooms.

Beppe Grillo: A stage. The former comic and founder of the Five Star Movement can explain his quest of returning to the lire in a comedy club where it belongs.

Proposed A.S. Roma stadium.

Proposed A.S. Roma stadium.

James Pallotta: A new stadium. A.S. Roma’s owner is trying to build a $1.5 billion stadium in a city where building a kitchen extension takes a year of red tape. A.S. Roma can’t finish ahead of Juventus without it.

Juventus: Another match fixing scandal. The last one in 2006 dropped Juve to Serie B. Without one, it is steamrolling to a sixth straight Serie A title. Pasta amatriciana is less consistently great than Juventus.

Rome Mayor Virginia Raggi

Rome Mayor Virginia Raggi

Virginia Raggi: Palle. That’s Italian for “balls.” Rome’s new mayor needs them to get the mafia out of the city’s deep pockets.

Donald Trump: An able-bodied intern. What am I thinking? I’m sure that was his first appointment.

Francesco Totti

Francesco Totti

Francesco Totti: A Europa League title. The most popular Roman since Caesar Augustus, Totti, 40, would be the first A.S. Roma player to win two major titles — in his 25th and last year in a Roma uniform.

My landlady: Decaf. The lovely Miss Paci needs to chill. Not that she’s harried, but when she speaks Italian she sounds like an Alitalia pilot right before his plane crashes in the Dolomites.

Donald Trump’s cabinet: Baking soda. I hear that’s a swell way to keep hoods extra white.

Pres. Obama: A condo on the Amalfi Coast. He doesn’t want to stay in a country where all the progress he made over eight years will be torn down by the Mango Madman in one. The view isn’t so bad from over here, sir.

Tiber River

Tiber River

Tiber River: A drain. I’ve seen 19th century photographs of people swimming in the Tiber. Today, people die falling in, not by drowning but from all the diseases.

Giolitti: A sense of humor. I have the dishonourable claim of being the only person I know who’s been thrown out of a gelateria. Giolitti, Italy’s first gelateria, is in my Testaccio neighborhood. One time the old owner asked me if I wanted panna (whipped cream). I said, “Yes. Gelato without panna is like sex without an orgasm.” All the other gelato jockeys in Rome think that’s funny. He pointed toward the door and said, “VAI VIA! (GET OUT!)” I did. And I never went back.



Bolt: Thirty euros. The dying kitty Marina and I saved in Greece in August is happy at the Skiathos Cat Welfare Association. Unfortunately, my travels may prevent me from adopting him and he can’t stay in a shelter forever. However, my 30-euro donation will cover his last vet appointment. It will be the first of many gifts.

Ama: A road map. Rome’s road clean-up company needs to find outlying roads such as Laurentina and Pontina and Andreatina. They are lined with so much trash, driving to the beach feels like driving through rural India.

Donald Trump: Chinese and Hindi dictionaries. That way Agent Orange can better explain how he alienated the two most populous countries on earth before he even took office.

Lazio fans

Lazio fans

Lazio fans: An invitation to South Central L.A. from the Crips and Bloods. Let’s see if throwing bananas and making monkey sounds go over as well there as it does in Olympic Stadium.
Pope Francis

Pope Francis

Pope Francis: Early sainthood. He has taken the Catholic Church out of the Dark Ages for the first time. No pope in my lifetime has been more progressive.

European tourists: Deodorant. Garbage isn’t the only thing that smells in Rome during the summer.

Roman Colosseum

Roman Colosseum

Colosseum: A new floor. A 25-million-euro makeover was completed in July and the next project is a stage to hold high-end cultural events. Fortunately, one of those events will not be Bruce Springsteen.

Testaccio: A sports bar. My wonderful neighborhood has everything I need: a great public market, one of the city’s best pizzerias, a fun beer and wine bar, quiet piazzas. But it has nowhere to watch sports. The closest is On the Rocks which doesn’t open until 6 p.m. and turns into a nightclub for 20 somethings by 11.

Marina Pascucci

Marina Pascucci

Marina Pascucci: My continued devotion. To live in Rome, you must be in love. My girlfriend has made my life here resemble what I saw in movies. I way out-kicked my coverage on this woman.

Donald Trump: A conscience. So Hair Hitler can feel guilty when the first woman dies from a back-alley abortion after his new Bible-thumping Supreme Court justices overturn Roe vs. Wade.

7 thoughts on “My Xmas gifts for 2016 or, if Trump likes coal …

    • I like Giolitti’s big variety in the Centro but the little shop near me has microscopic portions. I now like Brivido in Testaccio. They have white and dark chocolate toppings for free. Thanks for the note.

  1. John, As always, well written and amusing with a bite. Absolutely right about the outlying roads and trash. I drive some of them every day when coming in to work and it’s downright sickening how little the Italians care for their environment. Or the condition of their highways. Too bad you did not share your real feelings about the new president. Beautiful photo of your beautiful girlfriend. Merry Christmas from Colorado Springs. The rocky mountain state is browner and has bigger skies than you remember. We’re spending New Years in Monterey. Home the 6th. Take care, Jeff

    Jeff Larsen NATO Defense College, Rome Sent from my iPad

  2. I got banned from a coffee shop in Florence when one morning I asked for a big cup and they drained the tiny shot glass into a big cup and set it on the counter with no accompanying hot water pot. I tipped the cup and the shot ended in a drop at the top. When I said in English, “What am I supposed to do with this?” the Americans in the shop burst out laughing, and the owners behind the counter let out volleys of Italian cuss words! Touchy people I thought, I never went back and found plenty of bars in Italy who understood me and never gave me a hard time about being an American asking for a big cup! My favorites are the Bars who fill up a big cup with all the shots it can hold and leave any diluting or not with me! And I use cream for that!

    • Thanks for the note, Sandra. Americans need scouting reports on coffee. Also, Italians would rather drink nothing than drink out of a paper cup. Include me in that, too. I was in the coffee shop of a Houston Marriott on assignment once and when they gave me my coffee in a paper cup, I asked for a regular coffee cup. The woman really had no idea what I was talking about. The coffee shop had no coffee cups! She had to go into the restaurant to find one. I think American coffee is absolutely disgusting. I never drink it when I’m back there.

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