Friday, 5 February 2010

Friday afternoon ritual

On Friday's I finish work at 1:30 pm and usually these days I will drive out to the countryside with the puppies for their training or if it is raining like today I will take a nap after lunch or go get my haircut and then walk home via my favorite toy shop on Via Delle Terme di Diocliziano near the Termini Central train station. Today I went to get my haircut, so I phone the barber shop and make an appointment, one never arrives without one, they are busy and even if not, there is a certain protocol to observe. The barber shop is located on Via Dei Serpenti (snake Street) across the street from the Italian Central Bank in one of the oldest neighborhoods of Rome the Suburbia or suburb from Latin meaning outside the town centre Urb. In antiquity the suburbia was on the other side of the back wall of the Temple of Mars the Avenger, the limit of the Imperial Forum. The neighborhood looked pretty much as it does today minus electricity with apartment blocks 3 to 4 storey high with shops on the ground level. After Rome lost its status as Capital in 350 AD for Constantinople, the whole area collapsed, people left and for 1400 yrs it was mostly fields and ruined buildings and this is where the name snake street comes from it was a wild area. Today's buildings date from 1870-1910 when the new Rome was rebuilt to suit the new unified country of Italy.

No matter if I phone the shop 30 minutes before I want an appointment, they can always accommodate me. No one at the barber shop is on a first name basis, all the clients have a title, you are professor, Engineer, doctor, counsellor, Minister, President. A client will call and immediately will be courteously greeted with his title, Mimmo or Franco who own the shop must have a great memory because they will know from the name of the client what his appropriate title is. Per example Frascati calls and he is an engineer or Lofranco calls and he is a doctor and this is how people are addressed. When you arrive at the shop, both Mimmo and Franco will greet you even if they are busy with another customer, hand shake and enquiries about your health. Help you with your coat and then offer a newspaper, on the TV screen its the stock market listings, no sport listings here, they have the sports newspaper but that is it. Their customers are considered important, educated,serious people of a certain age. Both Mimmo and Franco listen to their customers stories but never comment, they listen politely, while cutting your hair. They are both very good barbers, true professionals, they know their business. Their customers include people like the President of the Italian Republic, Governor of the Central Bank, Ministers of the Government, Senators, politicians,famous actors, etc... Given the clientele you would expect something luxurious and extravagant with designer decor or specialty coffees or attendants etc.. and high prices, no not at all, it's a very small shop, only 3 chairs and the decor is 1970 vintage, nothing has changed but it is comfortable and gives an air of permanence, a bit like an old boys club and the price, it's the same as other salons in Rome, no more no less.

Today Mimmo told me about his vacation in the Caicos Island and how many Canadians tourists were there also on vacation. It is true that in the 1970's Canada considered taking over the Turks and Caicos Islands. He complimented me on my fellow Canadians, finding them very polite and kind. He wants to go back.
He told me that the tennis coach was Canadians spoke French and he met his mother who was visiting. With Italians you will get big points if you show respect to your parents. He was impressed with the tennis coach because he was respectful towards his mother, see how the Italian mind works.

Franco always cuts my hair and I also get a manicure from Elena, who has a summer house on the Adriatic near Fano. It's a relaxing time and a quiet one, the salon is as quiet as a library. It only took 15 minutes to cut and wash my hair, on the way home I decided to walk up Via Nazionale and just behind the ruins of the Baths of Diocletians, I went in to this Sicilian café where they have canolli stuffed with sweet ricotta cheese so Will and I could have tea with it.

1 comment:

  1. L:
    I return to get the latest with you in the Eternal City. I always enjoy your notes, comments, reports.

    So what is your title at the barber shop? Excellency? Most Noble One?

    Happy Sunday.