Ho Visto*

A few random photos of things I’ve seen on the streets of Roma in the dwindling days of my time here.

As I was walking home late the other evening from a farewell dinner at our friend Joe’s I happened upon this rather imperious puss. I’m not sure if he is one of the many strays that I am tempted to say “infest” the streets or belongs to someone. He seems well looked well fed and groomed so chances are he may even belong to the owner of the motorino he is guarding.

I know! I know! The shoe thing again! So here I am yesterday taking Nora to the vets – both of the HFH have tonsillitis, I didn’t even know that dogs have tonsils! – and as we headed down a side street there they were sitting by a wall. Perfectly set as if they were in someone’s shoe closet, a seemingly good pair of men’s shoes. This is the second or third time I’ve come across something like this on the streets of Rome – someone scared right out of their shoes?  – alien abduction? – someone with a sense of humour that wants someone like me puzzling over something like this?  I’m not honestly sure. And a day later they are still there – untouched!

I walk by the gas pumps at Piazza Galeno almost daily – sometimes twice as this is one of the paths for the walks with the HFH – and have become quite friendly with one of the attendants there.  From Bangladesh he is one of the many “guest” workers here – speaks three languages, learning a fourth, computer savey and a cricket enthusiast; much to Nicky’s annoyance  he and I often stop for a chat.  Probably because my eyes are always either at ground level or lower – if its on the ground Nora thinks its food – I had honestly never noticed this incredible tree (I’m thinking its an azalea but I’ll let my plant loving friend correct me on that) growing up out of the sidewalk, its trunk bent to accommodate the ESSO sign.  But late last night walking home from the Metro it was glowing white in the dark – a few spent flowers peppering the ground – and I saw something that had been there for three years for the very first time.

*I Saw

03 lulgio – San Tommaso Didimo

Ho Visto*

Yesterday was a typical Roman October day: it started cloudy, the streets damp from the early morning humidity, then blinding warming sunshine and by late afternoon as the sun set a chill came in the air again. Layering was definitely the clothing watchword for the day. Most of the afternoon was spent in the Porta San Giovanni area. First, Sunday pranzo at Canavota, one of those wonderful family owned trattoria that has been around for ages. And being Roma and a Sunday we ran into Robert, our oldest friend here, and Paul another acquaintance who was visiting for a few days – the world is small.

After lunch it was a quick ascent up the Scala Sancta which tradition says Santa Helena had brought back from Jerusalem. Okay we didn’t do it on our knees but did a quick jog up the adjacent staircase. No indulgences for us! Then over to San Giovanni in Laterno. It’s been almost two years since I had been inside what is officially the Pope’s parish church here in Roma. It has one of the most beautiful ceilings and some of the most fascinating inlaid flooring of any of the major churches in Rome. We took a quick go round of the cloister to look at a few of the artifacts stored there and, as always came across a few surprises.

Hidden away in a corner of the Cloister, behind a set of 13th century doors and nestled amongst bits and pieces of sarcophagi are the Holy Vending Machines. I’m not sure if they are from Antioch or where exactly Santa Helena would have found them but they do have a slightly Monty Pythonistique air to them.

And a short walk down Viale Carlo Felice found us at Santa Croce in Gerusalemme for a look at another set of relics that Santa Helena brought back on her shopping trip from the Holy Land. And it was nice to see that the posted signs had their required effect.

To be perfectly honest it doesn’t really say anything about not defacing the sign does it? Just not to walk on the grass, spray paint (or is that use insecticide?), fight (or maybe disco dance?) and throw garbage on the grounds.

*I’ve saw.

15 novembre – Sant’Alberto Magno

Ho Visto*

Every Tuesday afternoon I head over to Trastevere for an appointment. Trastevere literally mean “across the Tiber” and encompasses a large area south of the Vatican on the west bank of the river. The northern area of the Rioni (Rome proper is divided into 22 districts or Rioni, Trastevere being number 8) is a warren of cobblestoned streets, alleyways, old palazzi, palazetti, churches and other buildings some dating back to the 12th century. It’s also a beehive of trattorie, bars and trendy clubs some catering chiefly to tourists and others to the better heeled youth of the area.

I’m not working these days so I often leave a bit early, have a coffee at a bar just off the Lungotevere – I don’t even have to order now just wave at Cisco, the barman, and my Caffè macchiato is made – and wander around the back streets. It is still an area I am not all that familiar with and I only get over there on those Tuesday jaunts. It’s odd, but I think only normal, how once you get settled in a city you tend not to leave your own area most of the time. So Trastevere is mostly uncharted territory to this stranger from the Upper East side.

This past Tuesday as I was approaching the Piazza de’Mercanti I noticed this gentleman unloading his truck.

Firewood? In the middle of Rome? Why would he be unloading firewood? Sure our wealthy neighbours on the ground floor have a fireplace but I don’t suspect many people in the palazzi in that area do. Then I realized it was in front of a trattoria that had been a favourite haunt of many film stars in the 60s and 70s: La Taverna de’Mercanti. And of course this would be for their famous wood burning pizza ovens.

And as I walked along the side of the building I noticed a screen door leading directly down into their kitchen and took a quick shot of one of the staff preparing for the evening onslaught.

When I mentioned it to my doctor, he gave that famous Roman “BOH!” and suggested that I come over one evening and take night time pictures as according to him it is quite lovely. But then he suggested I go and eat elsewhere – too many people looking for the table that Gregory Peck sat at!

*I Saw

03 novembre – Santa Silvia