Wednesday, January 27, 2016

On the Ground, In Rome . . .

Struck again by Rome's astonishing beauty, its colours, its splendid light, the way it casually mixes high and low, old and new, chaos and tranquility, I've been snapping so many photos -- you can check out some of them on Instagram, if you're interested and don't mind adding another social media platform to play on/with.  Soon, I'll post more here -- I have a slew of early-morning photos taken as I ran through the Borghese Gardens. But I just wrote a fairly long post on my reading blog about Early One Morning by Virginia Baily, set in Rome during the Second World War and then in the mid-70s.  The novel involves a young Jewish boy who was left behind in Rome when his family was deported, so that I was perhaps even more moved that I already would have been when I looked down, walking through the old Jewish ghetto with my family on Sunday, and noticed these brass plaques tucked in amongst the cobblestones. I've written a bit more about them in my reading blog post -- they're called stolperstein, which translates, apparently, as "stumbling blocks."  Each one commemorates a Jewish person who was deported from Rome to die in a concentration camp. We should, indeed, stumble over them, pointers to, reminders of, such a tragic and shameful history.

I will be back, as I say, with happier photos soon, but I was glad I spotted these and if you're looking for a novel set in Rome, I think you might enjoy Baily's book.

15 comments:

  1. Hi Mater, I'll have a look at your reading post later. Meanwhile, I looked at your Instagram (I'm not on it myself) - just lovely, especially of course Nana and baby. I love those trees in Rome, don't know what they are - with the long trunks and leaves at the top. Your McDonald's photo reminds me of my first trip to Rome with my husband - we went into a McDonald's and they had a salad bar! Had never seen that anywhere else, before or since - that was in 1993. However, the McCafe in Budapest has beautiful traditional cakes, just (or maybe almost) like a Viennese pastry shop.

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    1. Do you mean the umbrella pines? They're fabulous, aren't they, with their wonderfully sculptural trunks. No wonder Respighi was inspired to write his wonderful symphonic poem, The Pines of Rome.
      I've never seen a salad bar in McDonald's (I'll have to keep my eyes peeled), but they did have a gelato bar at this one, with about 18 flavours, looking comparable to what you'd find in an "artisanal gelateria." The Budapest version sounds delectable!

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  2. Your photos are making me want to give Rome another chance. Maybe next time during a cooler season...

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    1. If you remember, I was pretty reserved about Rome on our first visit, which was in July. I liked it much better last September, and now, in January, even better. I can't do heat and crowds all at once!

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  3. Beautiful - and what a privilege to see Rome from a resident's viewpoint.

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    1. It seems a privilege, yes, and it's also wonderful to see my daughter from Rome's perspective, if you can see what a mean. The new light reveals her in new ways, all very impressive to me.

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  4. For the readers who don't read your other blog,once again- you have perfect timing with your post:27/1 is anniversary of liberation of Auschwitz.
    How considerate to have stolperstein,memory must be preserved!
    I agree with Pondside,what can be better than to live like la Romana for a while .(Have you read Alberto Moravia?)
    Dottoressa

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    1. That was absolute coincidence, but I'm pleased that I accidentally managed to observe such an important date.
      Okay, Moravia is going on my list, if you suggest him -- my, the list gets long! ;-)

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    2. Definitely read Moravia...

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  5. I'm with Sue. I too am inspired to give Rome another go thanks to your photos. Could you be persuaded to let us know where some of these areas are? I felt that although we were fine in the central touristy area there was a whole big everyday Rome out there where the locals go. A Berlin resident gave us the lowdown when we went there and it made all the difference. Have you been to Ostia btw? Worth an outing if the sun shines.

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    1. My daughter and family actually live less than half a kilometre from the Spanish Steps, similarly close to the Borghese Gardens, so they're pretty central touristy...but we walked to the river one day and then back through the Jewish Ghetto, and one day a long walk to get bread from a favourite bakery, one day the metro to the Esqualino Market where my Son-in-love takes F. to do the weekly shopping. I think part of the trick is getting out in hours that tourists are less active, but also being here in a less busy month, and perhaps also that I've relinquished many lists to take things as they come, focusing on being with family. So then I'm able somehow to look more fully at the beauty in the everyday.
      Yes to Ostia! We went last year -- I thought it was amazing!

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    2. Thank you for this. I'll file these details away in my Next Time In Rome slot. It's the markets and the quotidian places that I like to see when we go away, to try to imagine how my life would be if I lived there. We stayed in the Italian Air Force Club and our visit happened to coincide with the inauguration of Pope Francis so we strolled up to the Vatican after the ceremony to see the crowds and the celebrations. We're not military and we're not Catholic so while it was all fascinating, thrilling, memorable, and a privilege to have been there, everyday life it was not.

      Re Ostia- it's great, isn't it? I must admit that all the Roman sites we had toured had left me struggling to feel a connection with the ancients but Ostia made them all come to life.

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  6. Seeing Rome through your lens makes me want to visit that old city. I'm catching up on posts - seeing your granddaughter toddle through the old streets in your last post made a charming image.
    Remembrances and stumbling stones - Humans need these for we tend to make the same mistakes over and over again.

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  7. Stumbling blocks for all of humanity. <3

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  8. Stumbling blocks! It was foggy here yesterday, foggy with icy frost, and the way fog makes us pause and reconsider our view of the world seemed very apt when I read this post, although I am just coming back now. We all need interruptions and stumbling blocks. I've not been to Rome in winter, but I loved it in the fall, and have always wanted to go back in winter. I'm off to your reading blog next.

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I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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