Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Arrivederci Italia !

We are back in Virginia. I suppose that the typical thing to say at this point would be that the months flew by, but the funny thing is that they didn’t. At least they didn't while we were there. Actually, most of the days seemed to stretch as though to accommodate all the new experiences we were having. Others seemed long because I was in bed with a cold or because the sun never came out. And yet, now that we’re home, it’s as though the entire three months have collapsed in the way one could, or so I imagine, squeeze tight an accordion. Since I ended up our stay with a cold of two-weeks’ duration, I barely kept up the blog. I really don’t want the “a-choo” post to be my final word on Italy,so I’ll write a few more. They’re things I’ve saved up in my congested head.

We ended our Italy adventure as we started, in Rome. I like Rome more each time I go there, and although I understand it when people tell me they find it overwhelming, I would just advise those people to focus on one small area of the city each day. After all, if Rome wasn’t built in a day I don’t see why we all feel compelled to see it in a day. Even if Rome did not have the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, the treasures of the Vatican and all the great fountains and piazze, it would be tops in my book because it had sun. Something that had been missing in Bologna for two weeks. (So, it turned out that my hypothetic book title Where is the Bolognese Sun ?was right on the money).

When I think about Rome what really strikes me is how theatrical the architecture and sculpture is—at least the Baroque examples, of which there are many. This quality of pizzazz was all the more obvious after Bologna which hides all it’s Baroqueness inside the revamped medieval churches, and which, in any case, is much more medieval in appearance. In other words, Rome is more like the character Cassie in A Chorus Line. In case you have forgotten or—shocking to think of—don’t know who that is , let me describe. Cassie was the promising dancer who left Broadway to seek fortune and fame in Hollywood. Apparently Hollywood was not kind to her and she has come Crawling Back. Although previously a star on the Broadway stage she must now submit to an audition as a member of the chorus line, just one hoofer among hundreds of hopefuls. Oh, the humiliation ! And not only that-- the director conducting the audition is her Old Flame. The group dance numbers require that each auditionee dance exactly the same way like a line of funky robots. But of course, Cassie cannot do this. She simply cannot stop herself from putting a little more ooomph into the hip action or curving her arm with just that much more force than the dancers next to her. She must be she ! And that is My Roma—always more theatrical than the other cities, always calling attention to itself. Rome is a big show-off.

Most unforgettable was the hotel, or to be more accurate, our hotel room. It looked out onto the Spanish Steps. When I say, looked out, what I mean is that Boris and Bill were able to stand on the steps and talk to me through the window. I feel a little bad for the other tourists. They probably saw me in the open window, dramatically pushing open the shutters in that Cassie-like way I have. (I must be me !) Perhaps, they wondered if I was an Italian contessa looking out from the palazzo that has been in the family for centuries. How intriguing ! How picturesque ! And then they heard my dulcet tones: “Hey Bill, didja remember the camera ?” To those visitors on the Spanish Steps that evening: I am really sorry if I ruined the atmosphere for you.

The first afternoon we did a lot of walking, enjoying Villa Borghese, which is actually a park. We noticed with a shock that the graffiti problem in Rome is much less than in Bologna. (Bologna, if you are within the sound of this blog—please repair your beautiful city !) We took a circuitous route to the Villa Giulio, not for the Etruscan artifacts which are housed there, but to see the gardens. I was unimpressed by these--low-lying shrubs, symmetrically placed--but Bill seemed quite happy with them.

Walking back to the hotel, we routed our way through the Piazza del Popolo and up the Corso, a long, long avenue that is a main traffic artery. Usually. On this particular evening, It was Thursday night, around 6:00, it was entirely closed to traffic. I am not sure if the closure was a nightly event, but I suspect it is related to the Thursday practice throughout Italy of limiting conventionally fueled vehicles. So, try to imagine getting to walk down the middle of Fifth Avenue in New York, and that’s what it’s like to walk down the center of the Corso, a street lined with shops and bars. We ended up the very full day at a small, friendly restaurant near the hotel. Despite the lack of tacchino (turkey), we had a wonderful, unforgettable Thanksgiving. I hope you all did too.

1 comment:

MKR said...

Welcome Back! Let's get together when you've acclimated to your "new" environs!

Love, M