Greetings from Roma!
Hard to believe the last time I posted was a year ago when Sweetie and I went to France. This year, we are in Italy. We arrived, jet lagged of course and somewhat cranky, to a little apartment in the Trastevere neighbourhood of Rome. I chose this area because we wanted, as we did in Paris, to try to experience real life in the city rather than the areas that cater to tourists. Not that there aren’t tourists in the Trastevere. But lots of Romans too.
As we drove in from the airport, we were both struck by the geography. A few years ago, we watched the HBO series, Rome, and I could imagine it taking place around us. Soldiers, gladiators, slaves, merchants and so on. Something about the trees and the vegetation. My son would love it here. I immediately decided I like this place. It seems more laid back than Paris.
Driving in, we were treated to the expected narrow roads and somewhat manic traffic. The best part was just a block from our apartment. We screeched to a halt in the narrow cobblestoned street because an elderly woman had abandoned her vehicle in the middle of the road while she bought her groceries. Our driver honked his horn, and he and the woman engaged in a lively discussion with lots of arm waving. Passers-by got involved, shaking their hands, pointing to the parking space next to the abandoned vehicle and throwing their hands up in the air with lots of rolling of eyes. Sweetie and I were cracking up at this initial slice of Rome life. It seemed, somehow, so stereotypical.
We settled in to our apartment, a remarkably comfortable space and – hooray, hooray! – with an elevator! And air conditioning! We were thrilled. Except that it wasn’t ready for us since the previous occupants had departed minutes before we arrived. We wandered around the corner, drank prosecco (which I expect I will drink a lot while I am here) and did a bit of scouting. Bought some water and wine. Returned to the apartment and crashed. I know everyone says you should stay awake when you arrive in Europe from North America but it’s not much fun. So we slept for about three hours and set out for dinner much refreshed.
Our neighbourhood is delightful. There are dozens of little restaurants an easy walk from where we’ll make our home for the next week. We settled in to a simple meal of pasta, wine and salad and watched the people out strolling. And stroll they do. Families, tourists, lovers, interesting combinations. Our favourites were the woman who reminded me of Donatella Versace but, shall we say, less classy, strolling along in a halter top, very very short shorts, purse dog and two young men in tow. And the family with the baby in the stroller. The baby was testing sounds and practicing rolling its r’s in a wonderful gurgle, something I have never been able to do.
We are also struck once again by the difference in attitude towards personal space. In the airport in Paris where we changed planes, people were very, very close. Bumping, jostling. Not pleasant. Yet nobody seems to notice. At dinner, again the personal space difference arose but different this time. The tables in restaurants are quite close together, something we would likely object to if we were at home. Yet here, it doesn’t matter because space itself is at such a premium. So when a young couple sat down at the table adjacent and our waiter was practically sitting on Sweetie’s lap as he took their order, we just accepted it and smiled. Because, well, here we are. An older English-speaking couple. An Italian waiter. A young couple from France next to us. So, when in Rome….
We meandered after dinner to the neighbourhood’s main Piazza and watched a couple of street performers before heading back to the apartment and calling it a night. Except that I am wide awake thanks to the espresso I had after dinner. Oh my golly, it was small but mighty! I may be awake for days.
I love the energy here. The lilt of the language. La dolce vita. I have already a mad crush on Rome.