Sunday, May 24, 2009

from Rome: repeat performance

Sunday morning. In an hour we’ll be taking a train. I’m at the desk in the small hotel lobby, talking to the proprietor, Pierfrancesco.

You have a fantastic place here, I tell him.
Oh, I’m so glad you feel that way! This place is my baby. We’re still working out the kinks – we’ve just been open for a year! – but you know, this is my home. I grew up in these apartments. I still live here! Next time, you have to also try my restaurant. [We didn’t go this time because it’s a short drive from the center of Rome.]

Next time. How soon will “next time” be? It took me five years to return to Rome. Next time. Maybe next year? Is Rome a place you go to, again and again, with excitement? Like, say, Paris?

In the last day here, I begin to see the appeal of being here just to be here. And as the small details of the city began to emerge, so, too, does my love for those details.

We have no particular agenda for Saturday. The day is, as they all are, sunny and beautifully warm.

Our breakfast is leisurely. A chocolate croissant, a cappuccino, a yogurt. By the time we set out, it is almost lunch!

Up one street, down the next. I am used to seeing the delivery vans with all those flowers. I recognize them. I like them.


We turn left on the Via del Boschetto It’s a street with small shops, most selling clothing, most made right on the premises. Some vintage fabrics, some new. I am smitten with a pair of sunglasses. Blue rims. They match my blue earrings perfectly.

Stunning! The woman tells me, smiling.
Yes, sure, but after Rome, when I ever wear them? My life at home involves bike riding to and from work, to and from Ed’s farmette, to and from the grocery store. Where in those routines do blue rimmed sunglasses fit in?


We stop at a Botega del Café for lunch. This is a meal that at home is terribly insignificant. So much so that I rarely bother to eat it. But here, in Rome, it is all important. And why not? Is there a better way to spend a midafternoon hour than at an outdoor table? Over a plate of paper thin prosciutto, covering the sweetest melon slices on the planet?



We walk some more. Pausing to watch a changing of the guard. Pausing at our ice cream place, San Crispino (honey and bergamot!).


Did I say our ice cream place? We have one now?

Up one street, down the next. Some are crowded with tourists, or even tour groups, with characteristic matching hats...


...some are empty. Except I never have to wait long to spot a family scene. Always the families. A girl tugging at her father’s arm, a grandfather type telling a story. A mother laughing. Eight people in one doorway, eight conversations taking place at once.


We stop at the Salotto Bar and drink squeezed orange juice and crushed mint leaves from tall glasses.


The Salotto is cool and very quiet. Run by an Italian-Swedish couple, it exudes calm in this chaotic part of town.


Refreshed, we’re ready now for a quick return to the Trevi…


… and to the Navona.


A few quick errands in a shop or two make me realize that I left my credit card some stops ago, at the lunch café. We’re happy to retrace our steps, to take one last look at the small little square, to glance over at the early evening aperitif drinkers.



Families. You don’t leave them behind. Even if their drink is still from a bottle rather than from a tall flute.

We had on the very first day here decided that our last night in Rome should be at the Maccheroni. Somehow the mood of Rome began for us there, over the roasted artichokes. This time we’re at a table outside. Crowds try to get a table, but we are the privileged few (calling in advance gives you the coveted outdoor space), the ones right by the wall with the sign where someone had scribbled Maccheroni troppo buoni.


Pierfrancesco from our hotel later tells me that Maccheroni’s proprietor keeps the place open year round. He never closes! Three hundred and sixty days a year, he serves dinner! (Which are the sacred five where no one even considers eating out?)


The wait staff is efficient and playful and so very knowledgeable. Eat the cheaper cut of beef (over arugula, with cherry tomatoes). That’s what we eat! And try this wine from Lazio. You’ll like it. (We do.) I look at the bowl of pasta carbonare placed in front of my daughter and I tell him – that’s too much! He pats her on her stomach. She can use some food. Besides, you can both go running tomorrow!

Go running? No, tomorrow we head north, for two nights in Bologna before my girl flies home and I fly to meet up with Ed in Scotland.

Rome, you are magnificent!