Monday, 2 April 2012

Revisiting Rome

After a non-winter due to climatic change in Canada, I suddenly had this urge to go to Rome to re-visit the city where we lived for 4 wonderful years (2007-2011). Rome is like a flu-bug once you have it, you cannot shake it off. Not everyone likes Rome as a City to live or to visit, it is old, about 2765 years old since the days of Romulus and Remus, the infrastructure is not what it could or should be, shopping hours are strange for most North Americans, dining and lunch hours are Southern European, breakfast is taken twice and the coffee is served in small quantities and has a ritual that must be followed if you do not want to be labelled a boor. Some Romans, not all still think of the City as the Capital of the World which can be infuriating for the type A personalities who visit. Traffic is maddening and parking is none existent or difficult at best. Everyone seem to only speak Italian even at the International airport, Fiumicino.

We lived there and loved it, we had and have friends, we were regulars at the Opera House and the Symphony. We learned about the City, how to navigate its streets and how to do like the Romans, we enjoyed it.

This trip was a vacation, incognito, I did not visit the Office on purpose, I simply wanted to forget about work or anything connected to it. I was invited to stay with our old friends P & J in their beautiful apartment not far from where we use to live, very central to all points in the City in the Coppede neighbourhood.

I contacted everyone and scheduled luncheons and dinners for every day of my stay including exhibits I wanted to see currently on show in Rome. The flight over with Alitalia was fine, it also allowed me to start speaking Italian right away. Upon our return from Italy last August, I enrolled in a 6 month Italian language course to continue to perfect my knowledge of the language, it became clear that my speaking abilities are much improved and have little difficulties now with the language.

Something that dawned on me at the beginning of this trip was that in Italy, Italians pursue the beautiful, it is part of their culture, whereas in Canada we pursue the practical, in itself it is a very different view of life as a whole.

Upon arrival at 8 am I was picked up by the driver at the airport and taken to my friends house, I showered, changed and went out for lunch on Via Alessandria at the Australian bar where I was greeted by Madame and her son Massimo had a wonderful seafood risotto made by Judy. Then I went to a little shop on Via Nomentana to get myself a cel phone, my Canadian one did not work in Italy they are blocked by the Canadian companies who hold a monopoly here in Canada. So for 30 euros got myself a very good phone and 120 minutes for international or national calls. When I think that in Canada I would pay at least $200 and have to sign a contract just to use a cel phone.

I returned home for cocktails and a light dinner and off to bed where I slept for 12 hours straight. The next day I decide to take a proper Roman breakfast just a few doors down at the local Café and had a nice Espresso with a bit of milk (machiato) and a Tramenzino, a white bread sandwich ham and cheese grilled. I then walked out towards the City walls and entered the City at Porta Pia walking towards Piazza Santa Susanna and down to the Quirinale Palace. At the Scuderie del Quirinale there was an exhibit on the painter Jacopo Comin called Tintoretto  (1518-1594) whose major works are featured all over Venice. The Scuderie are the old stables of the Quirinale Palace, the grounds floor housed the different coaches, the first floor had the stalls for the horses, the second floor was the area reserved for the stable staff and coachmen.  To reach the first floor the horses walked up a grand staircase designed just for them and all made of stone. This staircase is taken by visitors today to enter the exhibit area.
I learned that Tintoretto who lived at the same time as other great painters like the Titian, quickly undercut his competitors by not charging for his work and simply asking a nominal fee for the canvas.
Since all the princes and cardinals did not want to pay more than they had to for the numerous art works needed for their palaces and churches, Tintoretto became a favourite among them, he also had a great talent, he took chance with his customers, never sure if his tableaux would please. The art world in his days was tightly controlled by the Catholic Church who dictated how a topic could be presented. The Catholic Church positioned itself so to oppose or to answer the Protestant Reformation in Europe.

Just walking in Rome is always great fun, so much to see all around you. The vistas are always spectacular, the whole city is arranged as if a giant stage set made out to impress the eye of the on-looker.

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting. So this is the first and second days. Can't wait to hear more.