The next three days were very low-key for me. Which was nice in preparation for the tourist-gasm that was about to go down a few days later. I spent the time sleeping, discovering that the castle was closed for repairs (lame), and working on my sweet tan.
The best part of the last three days was the meal we had up in the countryside of Santa Severa. It was about a 20 minute drive into the mountains from our beach house. We got to spend time with Lei Lei and Christine, his wife, who is the ONLY person (out of all 4 adults) who remembers me from when I came when I was four. She said I looked exactly the same, which I have no doubt, is totally true.
The restaurant we went to was basically in this huge enclosed porch off of an old house. It was the traditional Italian country dinner you've heard about. We started with three types of bruschetta and appetizers, then two or three different types of pasta, followed by Pork, Beef and Mutton. All probably killed within the week and served with greens and potatoes. Bear really liked the pork, and the mutton was over done and dry (although I think I was expecting lamb, so over done is probably normal) but the beef was perfect. It was just rare enough. It was amazing, and we just ate and ate and ate until I had literally made myself sick, but I so wanted to keep eating because I hardly ever get meals like this. It was perfect.
While we were living a life of hedonism, Buttmunch was also kind of dying.
Its a long story, but the moral of it was Buttmunch was on antibiotics when we got to Italy. The first day I notice a red rash developing on his arms, and back and legs and really everywhere. The rash got worse and worse and basically left the kid a pile of hot mess by the time we were in Rome.
He was a champion about it - dutifully walking around with us as the sun blazed overhead. But it got to a point where he was resembling a tomato more than a human and was too tired to be sarcastic.
So he and Dad hoofed it to the pharmacist where he was told that he was for sure having an allergic reaction to something (probably the antibiotics) and he needed an antihistamine and he should go have a chat with a Doctor.
The next day, Buttmunch, Dad and Lei Lei drove out to one of the two or three doctors within a 20 mile radius and just walked in, saw a doctor - found out what the dealio was (a reaction to the sun while on the antibiotic) and got the medicine he needed. Total cost - NOTHING. Not a dime. (Well, the drugs might have cost something, but the doctor's visit was on the house).
Can you imagine if someone from Italy walked into a clinic (any clinic) in the US (especially in a resort/beach/country area) and had a crazy rash? No matter what kind of explanatory paperwork they had - there would be a battery of tests, an epic wait and then a bill akin to dinner at Alinea.
So THEN, Buttmunch takes the antihistamines and feels moderately better, until he takes the antibiotics again and busts into a Oscar-worthy asthma attack. We no longer have access to a car (and so the clinic from the day before) so they hoof it back over to their new bff - the pharmacist - who tells Buttmunch to throw those antibiotics away - and gives him an alternative drug and an inhaler to deal with the whole not-breathing thing. Sure these cost some Euros - but here's what they didn't cost - a prescription, a doctor's visit, or a waste of everyones' time.
I was consistently amazed by how much treatment he got for so little. What a civilized society.
*** edited to add the part about our delicious meal, that I had forgotten all about in the discussion of health care***