Thursday, December 28, 2017

Four Hours in Rome

Our reason for this trip to Italy is helping with our Italian Granddaughter while our daughter trains as a yoga teacher. A very good reason to be here, but I hadn't really examined how it might conflict with some expectations I'd nursed. For our first week here,  it was no hardship at all to be this close to Rome without getting to the city because, after all . . .  Little Girl!
Daughter and son-in-law gave directions for commuting into Rome: a twelve-minute drive to the nearest station, park, and we could be riding a tram in Trastevere in thirty minutes. That first week, though, momentum was slow in the mornings, and once we got going, we were content with a workout or run; later we'd mosey along the waterfront, stop for coffee, indulge in a lazy lunch, plan and shop for the evening meal. Above all, we were focused on pedalling the 3 kilometres to daycare pick-up so we'd be waiting when She came hurtling out the doors. (Hurtling, and then wheedling -- for five minutes in the playground, or for a stop at Old MacDonald's on the way home, or for a visit to the playground at The Dog Park)
Time for some window-shopping as well, and if I'd had a bigger bag, my own porter,  and way more cupboard space at home, I'd have been seriously tempted by these fellows. . . 
 Somehow, I'd nurtured an illusion of picking up a few Christmas gifts in Rome (I'd brought a few picture books for Little Girl, but wanted a Christmas-morning something for her Papa, and her Granddad). Turns out that, do-able as I'd imagined the commute to be,  I faltered when I pictured a missed train, or the car being towed because we'd parked in the wrong place, or anything that might make us late, have her waiting, anxious. Instead,  I made peace with staying local, and we explored the small town my daughter's family inhabit, where I found a few little regali to wrap.  Son-in-law drove us into Rome on Saturday evening to see the Vatican lit up and admires its giant Christmas tree, to stroll that immense plaza at St. Peter's with gelati, a magical outing that meant we'd at least made it into Rome one day this trip.
 And then Christmas meals to prepare, greengrocers and fishmongers and butchers to visit, and I wasn't thinking much about Rome, instead focussing on being present here.
 Boxing Day -- the Feast of St. Stephen here -- I woke with a cold,  so the guys headed off with the Granddaughter to check out some villas outside The Eternal City. We'd decided to shift our road trip south a bit later in the week, preferring to stay closer to comfort given the storm that's rolled in. But that meant, I could see, that we were running out of longer days for Pater and I to head into Rome on our own before regular daycare schedule resumes.
 And I might have been caught sulking for a minute or two. Sure, I've been to Rome a few times now, and we've had some good outings this visit (Villa d'Este, especially, that trip to the Vatican, the villas, if only I'd been well enough to go along), but in between coughing ferociously and sneezing into my kleenex, I realized I'd really been counting on at least three things:

One: I wanted to get to Sora Margharita and introduce Paul to the deep-fried artichokes -- carciofi alla giudia-- I'd enjoyed there last time. (Top photo: Done!)

Presepe (Nativity Scene) at a side altar (not far from Raphael's tomb)
 Despite the increasingly horrid weather (you might have seen the ten-second video I posted on Instagram as we were huddled under umbrellas on the leeward side of a Roman street, rain, then hail, lashing down), I insisted we head to the Pantheon. Such an aesthetically gratifying and historically and spiritually rich building, I feel something close to grace, to beneficence, there, and to be that close and not partake seemed a foolishness to avoid. And, as you can see by the photos (few and of limited quality -- so dark in there, and I'm not keen anymore to be all camera-happy in that space), that Two on my list also got checked off, Done.

 The exterior of the building's front matched the sky's severity, yesterday -- in fact, the rain, pelting down a bit later, rather resembled those columns!
 Inside, it's all about the light and the rich colours of the marble and the complex geometries and the way they intersect and parallel and complement each other.
Number Three on my list was the Rome branch of Officina Profumo Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella. And between the Pantheon and that shop, only a six-minute walk away, the skies opened, and I was so wet that I could have used my new supply of the beautifully fragrant Pomegranate Soap (Sapone al Melograno) right there. Instead, we tucked it into a bag and sloshed along the sidewalk, across the inundated intersections, to wait for the tram back to the train station. In fact, we would have been home almost in time to pick Little Girl up had it been a daycare day, and the entire outing took not much more than four hours, including the commute. I'm hoping we'll manage at least one more similar scoot into the city, perhaps with better weather and without a cough, sniffles, and the fatigue of a cold. Spending time with Granddaughter (and her papa) is the cake, of course, but a bit of icing is always welcome -- and I still haven't managed to peer in the windows of Al Sogno, the much-lauded toy store at Piazza Navona. . . .

At the moment, though, I've spent another quiet day at home nursing this cold, and I'm currently waiting for Pater to bring a box of Kleenex home along with the groceries -- any bets on whether he remembers or not?

22 comments:

  1. It’s a shame about your cold but it sounds like you’re travelling in the best way , like a local rather than a tourist . Very different to being dropped off at the big sites by a tour bus , in the crowded middle of summer . So some good & some bad but all very real . Sounds great to me & there’s that little girl racing out to you everyday too .
    Wendy in York

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    1. And that's travel, isn't it, "some good & some bad but all very real"? Thanks.

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  2. I agree with Wendy- you are already naturalised in Rome and you'll visit again....still,I could understand the feeling "so close but yet so far" :-)....
    Spending one part of Christmas on St.Peter's Square must be magical
    But,spending time with your Little girl is precious
    Pater will bring Kleenex,I'm sure -you could send me some,too
    My Christmas is also a very housebound one-with cold and cough :-)
    Dottoressa

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    1. today was especially tough, because it's so gorgeous out and it's the last possible day for Paul and I to go in, and I could have done it but I know I'd risk a setback with the cold. . .
      (and btw, he forgot the Kleenex box -- and the next time too! ;-)

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  3. It's too bad about your cold. If the family stays in Italy, you will make many more visits. I have a list of places (Rome, Paris, London) that I'd like to visit at Christmas but it is unlikely that I will leave my husband at that time of year. Your routine with little girl sounds fun. Will your daughter teach yoga in Italy? We're in Oregon where I got out early to walk in Scotch mist (with my Danish coat and Shetland hat) but we have real rain now so I'll be looking for a bookstore. Take care of your cold.

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    1. I think she's hoping to teach, perhaps ex-pats, but it's still tentative. Next visit we'll plan for more time on our own in the city.
      I've enjoyed your recent posts and your Oregon stay looks perfect.

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  4. The best laid plans...but it does sound as though you're having a wonderful time with the Granddaughter and getting to know their neighborhood. I hope you have the opportunity to get into Rome a bit more before you go. That rain/hail...wow! Hope you're on the mend and back up to "full strength" soon.

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    1. Thanks, Sue. I'm hoping so as well. . . but Rome will have to wait until next time, sadly. . .

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  5. Travel illnesses are the worst......there is truly no place like home when I feel bad! And then to waste the precious travel time being sick! Oh well, and the new soap sounds excellent.

    ceci

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    1. Yes, such a waste -- and somehow it seems as if there should be immunity during travel, an unrealistic expectation, of course, but still. . .

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  6. Oh....the white bowls. I don’t know if I could have resisted. A cold while traveling is not pleasant. Actually not great anytime. Stay warm and drink hot toddies, and enjoy the time with your granddaughter.
    Ali

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  7. Frances, I'm sorry to hear you have a cold in Italy and that it's, understandably, harshing your travel buzz. And I have NO idea from whence that phrase popped out -- perhaps subliminal memories of my first trip to Rome in 1967? ;)

    Still, your body and mind are memorizing sensations that will emerge when you're back home reflecting on the time you "lived in Italy." Chances are, you'll remember the pleasantest parts and discount the other parts.

    It's curious to me how my travel memories eventually morph and evolve into something other than my brain's CCTV recordings of what was happening moment to moment. Perhaps our memories eventually become a melding of "reality," wishes, and what-ifs into our personal myths. After all, if life imitates art our memories are built by both our rough drafts and our edits. That possibility bothers me so much less today than it did when I was a young woman.

    So here's to 2018 and the adventures it offers and memories we construct.

    Ann in Missouri

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    1. You're touching on some important travel philosophy here, Ann. I've been thinking about this as well, how the narrative constructs itself out of the memories, and what is it that makes the travel. Perhaps there's something about the illness, even, that makes the trip more "authentic" or "real" or something, at some level.
      Yes, here's to 2018!!

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  8. Watching the tooney sized snow flakes fall right now and reading your post. Always great narration . Sorry to hear you've had a cold - alas , but sounds like you're working around it.
    And oh those bowls ! I should have given you a little spending money so you could bring me home a treasure or two ( I trust your taste ;) How can you resist.
    Great photos , and some fun reminiscence of trips to Rome. xx

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    1. Oh, no problem with the spending money, but if you could arrange a livery service that could follow me around, take custody of my purchases, and have them show up at home without my having to trouble with them until then. . .

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  9. Actually it sounds like such a lovely visit, including spending time locally where your family lives. Hopefully Rome will always be there and your cold will not, and yet the time with family is precious. Your trip into the city sounds delightful and I hope you are feeling better soon and enjoying the rest of your trip.

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    1. Rome is the Eternal City so I will count on it being there when I can get back -- as long as I don't have the Eternal Cold (which I'll admit I'm beginning to suspect ;-)

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  10. Yes, I've often had trips like that, either working most of the time with glimpses of mini-holidays, sneaking off into a market or just taking a tram somewhere. Or visits to biological or chosen family, who'd just as soon be watching the telly after work than strolling through Paris, Amsterdam or Rome. But that is "real life" after all.

    It is so bluidy cold here this year that I don't want to go anywhere! At least I live in a housing co-op and neighbours invite each other over.

    Rachel Roddy again on New Year's "lucky foods"
    https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/dec/28/lentils-with-italian-sausage-recipe-new-year-rachel-roddy-a-kitchen-in-rome

    As for me, I made some empanadas, having a couple, some green salad, a bit of white wine, and turning in early. Working these days!

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    1. I agree (see response to Ann in Missouri, above) -- I think it might be part of what makes travel "real," perhaps different from "tourism" although I always find that distinction a bit spurious, generally self-serving.

      My daughter had bought a Cotechino sausage to cook up at New Year's in precisely the dish Roddy writes about -- so I happily followed her recipe, thank you!

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  11. If you have free time goggle a day in Rome with Sophie Minchilli. We had a week with her and her mother in Umbria in Oct. , wonderful tour guides with great food and fun local resources

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    1. Sadly, no time to get into Rome, but our visit to Sora Margherita for the carciofi was based on my having followed Elizabeth Minchilli for a few years, after buying her book. Lucky you, spending a week with her and her daughter (whose IG I also follow and love)!

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