By Peter Leonard, Special to CNN
I was in a year-abroad program in 1973, one of 240 American students attending Loyola University Rome Center. The school year was winding down. I went out to dinner with a group of friends in Trastevere. After several courses and many bottles of wine, we went to a bar and listened to a singer do jazz standards.
About 11:30, Steve Pappas, a friend from Vallejo, California, and I decided to peel off from the group and take a cab across town to Harry’s Bar, an old Hemingway haunt on Via Veneto. (We’d sit outside, drink whiskey and talk to the prostitutes, beautiful women who walked down from the park, Villa Borghese, looking for a rich guy staying at one of the expensive hotels.)
We left the bar, and I saw a taxi on the other side of the piazza under a full moon. Walked to it, and I got in back and closed my eyes, feeling the effects of many drinks. I heard the front door open and close, looked and saw Pappas grinning in the driver’s seat. “We’re going to Harry’s.”
I thought he was kidding. But then I heard the engine start, saw him slip the shifter in gear, and we did a couple doughnuts in the middle of the piazza, tires squealing, and pulled out, turning right onto a street heading for the Tiber River.
I said, “Are you out of your mind?”
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