The Maniac Collector's Inbox (318)
July 6, 2008
Sherlocking With Professor Dr. Bruno Lumbroso
One of the highlights of my Roman holiday was the night we met Professor Doctor Bruno Lumbroso for dinner.
Fifteen years ago I had a phone call from John Bennett Shaw and he asked me if I would mind meeting a visiting Sherlockian from Italy who would be in Dallas attending a meeting. Of course I agreed and a few days later I received a call from the good doctor. He wanted to meet in downtown Dallas at the Adolphus Hotel, where he was staying. I knew the place well and I arrived at the appointed time. It was not difficult for us to find each other and we settled down in a quiet room just off of the lobby.
I brought a couple of copies of the Solar Pons novels by August Derleth to give to Dr. Lumbroso. These were the original Mycroft and Moran editions and much to my delight, Dr. Lumbroso was a Solar Pons enthusiast and did not have these particular editions. He in returned had several Italian editions for me, none of which were in my collection. We exchanged pleasantries before slipping into more heady conversations after a few glasses of wine.
Our first meeting lasted about an hour. Dr. Lumbroso was in town for an International Ophthalmology conference, where I discovered he was one of the major contributors. We exchanged mailing addresses and made promises for me to visit Italy someday. Three years later I was making plans to go to Italy for the first time, I wrote to Dr. Lumbroso and gave him our itinerary. He was sorry to let me know that when we were going to be there, he would be in Hungary, lecturing.
Over the next decade, the good doctor and I have stayed in touch. Both of his children graduated from medical school and are ophthalmologists in France, which coincidentally is the home of his wife. Our second trip to Italy did not include plans for visiting Rome so once again we were unable to meet. We vowed that our recent trip would be the perfect time to get together and so it was that when we arrived at Hotel Giulio Cesare in Rome, there was a message from Dr. Lumbroso requesting me to call him. I called and we arranged to meet the next night for dinner. He suggested Hostaria Costanza, located in Piazza Paradiso because it was one of his favorite places.
We arrived by taxi and are shown great respect when we explain we are to meet Dr. Lumbroso there for dinner. The restaurant staff escorts us to the back where our table is already laid out for us. Dr. Lumbroso arrived within minutes and after the introduction, we take our seats. Since it was our first time in Rome and we had never had a true Roman dinner, the good doctor offered to order for us, which we gladly accepted. He explained that Roman cuisine was different from Italian cuisine in the way it was prepared, the way it was served, and most importantly, the way it tasted. He also selected the wines that matched our entrees perfectly.
At one point Dr. Lumbroso asked if we were aware of where we were dining. We confessed our lack of knowledge about our surroundings and he told us the most incredible story. We were sitting under the remaining tiers of the Pompeo Theatre, which is also a part of a bigger monumental complex built by Pompeo in Campo Marzio after his triumph in 61 B.C. It is said that in 44 B.C. Julius Caesar was warned to beware of the Ides of March as he was leaving the theatre and was killed under the statue of Pompeo. I guess in Rome, it is no big deal to eat in a place that is more than 2,000 years old, but I was impressed.
The entire evening was too delightful for words. Dr. Lumbroso was such a gentleman, he charmed us with his stories from around the world but a favorite was when he asked us about skiing. He was shocked when we confessed to not drinking Grappa prior to taking to the slopes. How could we ski without first having Grappa? He said he has been skiing for 70 years but not with first having some grappa. He explained the process of making Grappa and why the Italian Grappa was superior to French or German Grappa.
The evening came to a close much too soon and it was such an enjoyable night that the memories will linger for years. Dr. Lumbroso comes to the United States nearly every year for different medical conferences but in the past fifteen years, his travels to the U.S. have not included Texas. We agree to try to get together regardless of where he is next year. This will be a date I will want to keep. Professor Dr. Bruno Lumbroso is one of the greatest gentlemen in the world of Sherlock Holmes.
Jan Grimes, me, Dr. Bruno Lumbroso, Joyce, and Bob Grimes
Wine & Grappa