I am having a lovely time in Rome. But I can't help but feel that the trip is somewhat marred so far by a persistent cold, sore throat, and fever-like sensation that worsens at night. Until yesterday we thought I just picked up something nasty on the plane. But as it continued to worsen over a week's time, I figured it would be wise to get it checked out. First I went to a farmacia, where things are a little different than they are in America. For one thing, as my local farmacia dottore pointed out, in America, you never get to to speak to the pharmacist: That isn't entirely true, but I know what he means having spent lots of time in inpersonal Rite Aids run by uneducated fools. But then the farmacia dottore continued: Here, we are doctors, he said. And there are four of us all the time in this place. Of course, they only have one form of sudafed that doesn't make you drowsy (Vicks -ah"FLu-ah Action-ah"), and they decide what it is you need, but it is nice to speak to someone who knows a little something about medicine. You like-a this system better than America's, he asked, ah? No, I said. They are both good, but I wish I had the choice over my medication. Ah, he said. But we are doctors. Lina then perked up: But you are doctors of phramacy the same way I am a doctor of psychology, just like our pharmacists. Yes! he said. Clearly we weren't communicating very well. At any rate, I then ran into my Zia on the street looking for peaches at the fruit stand. It so happened she had just returned from her doctor. What type of doctor is he if you don't mind me asking, I said in Italian. Allora, she said. Ancora, sentai male? Si, I replied. Allora. She took my hand and we walked one block from the apartment where she rung up her local doctor's office. We entered and the doctor took me right away, checked my throat and gave me a full exam. I see no sign of bacterial infection, she said; drink water and lemon. And don't let water come from your body (sweat!). Then she OK'ed the phamacist's Sudafed and the new throat spray. Then, when it was time to pay, she refused money. Instead she kissed the both of us, tolf my aunt to feel well and tousled my hair. Then she sent us home and told us to bring her lemons from Amalfi. Now, think of even the nicest doctor in the U.S. Would he or she see you for free, and instantly? Would he or she care enough to put you ahead of her other patients? That is what I miss about the American system. I don't care if I have to pay for my Sudafed (my Zia will get reimbursed by her government-fortified insurance company for my over-the-counter cold meds). But it would be nice if I had a doctor who cared even 30% as much as this fine Roman doctor. Oh, and by the way: She went to Harvard but she grew up in Rome. Va bene, indeed.