Monday, March 2, 2015

Eternal City Ramble

A lifetime ago, my first visit to Rome did not go so well. All of my family's belongings were stolen from our rented Fiat Panda, and we had to wander through the Vatican without any underwear. (Write me if you want to read THAT divine comedy...)

This trip was also taking on a certain Dantean aspect, Italy playing Heaven/Hell Hide and Seek with me again. But after our visit to the Hub, Alexa showed me Rome through her eyes...and it's part of me now!

We looked in a whirlwind of churches, but we also walked miles on cobblestone streets, past shoe stores and gelaterias and street performers and young people hanging out around beautiful fountains, stopping in at one cousin's necktie store and another cousin's jewelry store. Something was going on at the French Embassy, I bought postcards and Limoncello for Jenny, and wherever we went, Alexa would break into friendly chatter with locals in a language I didn't understand, taking me back to those lulling childhood errands, when daddy was in charge and I could just space out and take everything in with complete trust that I was cared for.

The sign reads: "We are against
war and tourist
We crossed the Tiber river where a hospital sits on an island that was once a leper colony, and peeked in a few Disney-esque restaurants in the Trastevere district before settling in atIl Duca. We feasted on cariofo (artichokes) prepared alla giudia (fried, YUM, Jewish-style) and alla Romana (steamed with lemon and olive oil), Puntarelle with anchovies, sautéed Chicory, Tonarelli, and Bakalá: salted roman fish with tomato, raisins, and pignola nuts.

It took me back to my Mambo Italiano dance...I make my Zumba students slap their booties when Rosemary Clooney sings, "Try an enchilada with a fishy Bakala." I couldn't really do that in the restaurant, but the not-shy Alexa, just as inspired, burst into her own song...

Lust at the Borges Gallery
The house wine was revelatory; I have never had such a moment as the first sip... I can only describe it as walking into a room filled with the flavor. And the dessert, Crema Catalana (like Creme Brulée but a little spicier), was so orally gratifying it stirred in me the desire to be well-kissed! On our way back home so I could call my husband I couldn't help but realize that the handsome statues and paintings I adore are based on actual Italian men...! And each one that passed me by stirred me like hot or cold like a dish on a stove: (YES, I like that mouth. NO, that one not so much.) With my love half a world away from me, I instead rolled savory Italian words around my lips and tongue: Lazio, Campania, Garbatella, Borgo, Piazza del Poppolo. Everything seemed so possible.

It was late, but we whipped around the city looking at sights, monuments, cute cars, and stupid traffic signage. The mind boggles at the layers of history, two and a half thousand years of it. Alexa pointed out a theater with a Victorian apartment building on top of a Renaissance renovation on top of an ancient foundation.
Adventures in renovation! 

I tagged off on the Colliseum, the Spanish Steps, and St. Peter's Basilica... from a safe distance this time around, through a secret keyhole high on a hill. We came up with prank ideas for the Bocca della Verità.

At 2am we stopped at a Cornetteria (where they sell Cornetti, of course) and picked up some pastries for Eloisa's 8th birthday breakfast, just hours away!

And at 3am, I packed my bags for the rest of my adventure.

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