Saturday, February 6, 2016

The Joys of Rome

"These are a few of my favorite things..."

- Feltrinelli! For foreigners like me -- the international branch. We first discovered this amazing bookstore on our 1998 trip to Italy with the kids. It was in the Bologna branch that 15-year-old Shira walked in, looked around and declared: "I want to live here!". We ended up buying three Terry Pratchetts, one David & Leigh Eddings, one book about the history of Italy, and two pretty calendars -- a Matisse-themed and a Magritte-themed.
Feltrinelli International, Via Orlando, Roma
This time, on Via Orlando 84/86, I bought only three items -- this enticing book of stories, for which my Italian is regrettably insufficient; a Dostoevsky I'd never heard of and hoped it would be easy to read because it's so slim; and this cute set of three notebooks:
- Gelato Vice Cafe; i dolci di Nonna Vincenza; and a seemingly endless list of other places specializing in ice-cream and/or a mouth-watering selection of perfect pastries of every shape, color, consistency and flavor. Lots of flavor. (Forget the calories -- it's vacation time!)

- The symbiosis of old and new. The past is with you, for better and for worse, wherever you go; as a reminder of the gloria that transits; the rise and fall, the constant rebuilding, restoring, and moving onwards and upwards. And so much beauty, whether from centuries ago or modern times. 

- The mere sound of the Italian language. Its highly expressive and melodic intonation. When you only understand the occasional word (other than the touristy ciao, scusi, prego, il conto per favore...) it all sounds like opera, soap-opera or melodrama -- even if the so-called protagonists are in fact complaining that the bus is late or their right shoe is too tight.

- Stylish winter coats to be had for 20 euro at a street stall or 200+ at a fashion shop, and anything in-between, so long as you know what you want and have the patience to look.

- Bus, tram, metro tickets with a shiny silver strip -- a joy for little kids.

- Design, design, design. Respect for the artwork and the visitor alike:

- The inimitable art of scarf-wearing. I swear I tried. Brought with me four of my favorite scarves.
 But I just couldn't get them to protect my neck the way the Italians so nonchalantly do. Mine were too floppy. Or else I wasn't Italian enough :-)

- Becoming a "regular" at a cafe, restaurant or anywhere else for that matter, by the second time you go there! I was amazed how the adorable Ramona recognized us and remembered how we took our morning hot beverage, on the second time we came for breakfast. Then the same thing happened at Ragno D'Oro, with the Sylvester Stallone doppelganger waiter. Well, turns out that this is a bona fide Italian trait! See Dov Alfon's Facebook post of January 30th, 2016.  Oh, sorry -- it's in Hebrew! Well, the least I can do is translate the relevant bit, though I'd love you to read the whole post. Says Alfon, in item #9 under the heading "Ten signs that you've been living in Italy for too long": "The woman at the dry cleaner's remembers your name as early as your second visit, which took place a month after the first. The same goes for all the stall-owners at the market, the waiters in your neighborhood, the neighbors, the pharmacist, and even the policeman who scolded you two months earlier for crossing on a red light."

- And last but not least -- in fact the first thing that took my breath away as we approached Rome -- the pines of Rome... Okay, so I'm not being original, it's all been said before. Go sue me...

No comments:

Post a Comment