Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Hanging out in Rome

icd The XIII International Symposium on Progress in Clinical Pacing is meeting in Rome this week, a gathering of cardiologists and researchers interested in electrical dysfunction and therapy in the heart.  The general public sees pacemakers as “old technology”, but there are a surprising number open clinical questions and new research findings that keep the proceedings lively.  From my perspective, it’s also a good chance to catch up on new devices and technologies, both well-understood ones like implanted defibrillators and resynchronization generators, but also monitoring devices for acute myocardial infarction (my specialty).

And, its a nice chance to visit a wonderful city.  I tried a different approach this visit, taking an apartment for four days instead of a hotel room. It was simple: I met the agent, got a quick orientation, gave her cash, received the keys, and I was flying solo.  It’s been a really good change: the apartment is beautiful, very stylish and modern.  No wifi connection, but an Internet cafe around the corner, next to a delightful pastry shoppe that’s kept my breakfasts happy.  The heating is a bit intense, and it’s hard to find a cab in the morning, but those are really minor issues.  The place runs about 2/3 the cost of a hotel,and is really worth considering (thanks, FriendlyRentals!)

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I’m living in the Trastavere, a neighborhood along the west bank of the Tiber towards the south part of the city.  It’s a warren of narrow cobbled streets filled with little restaurants and bars, a bit rough around the edges and totally un-drivable, but a real slice of life.  I am starting to take a deep liking to places with lively street life, little cafe’s, eclectic residents.  The best restaurants are scarcely noticeable from the street, but are warm and filled with locals.  The food is everywhere outstanding and relatively cheap: paper on the tables and kitchen just a doorway away from the patrons with the owner’s daughter serving.  It’s empty until 8:30, when the crowds suddenly flow in, greeting, kissing, gossiping, moving tables to accommodate groups.  The plates of food and bottles of drink fly back and forth without much glance at a menu, and payment is a cash affair at the end.  Totally great.

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