Friday, August 16, 2013

Firenze (and then some)

The truth is that I want to write about catacombs. I spent the afternoon in a catacomb. It is my second to last full day in Rome, and I said to myself, "You know what? I want to breathe in the sweet, sweet air of 1700 years of death and deterioration," and I took the bus to Domitilla and I sat in that basilica and refused to budge (like so many before me.)

I took the Italian tour of the underground component. And I understood everything! Even the snide comments the Italian families were making about American tourists (naturally, they assumed that I was not American.) It was wonderful. Some of the frescoes looked as though they had just been painted. There was (inexplicably, given their ventilation system) a cool breeze. There were tiny display cases in some burial areas full of glass shards and sculptures and tiles that had been buried with the dead. I just wanted to fill my pockets with everything and flee the scene like a grave-robber in some Indiana Jones film.

But, I didn't. So--back to Florence. Florence is very commercial and very delicate. Florence is a hot air balloon where Rome is a soccer ball. I prefer the latter, but Florence is a fantastically pleasant escape from the bright hot brick-and-rock wonderland that is Rome. I climbed up to the top of the duomo's belltower, and I could see Florence for miles: with its green paint and bushy trees and cacophony of languages-that-are-not-Italian. It is very pretty, and very modern in its own way, and if I could go there for one weekend every summer... I would.

Many stores/restaurants/museums/galleries/etc. were closed for ferie (the work holiday taken by the entire country collectively in mid-August), but sometimes things are prettier when they are shut down, or abandoned, or at least neglected for a little bit. Like the sculpture man above. And maybe David, if I could just sneak him out of the Accademia for a few months. I scoped the place out, though, and I think that my chances of success are slim. There is a micro-fracture in his right leg, and I don't think that the whole body part would come with him if it were moved. Disappointing (but I guess Rome wasn't deconstructed in a day.)

I could live in Italy. I met with some friends in Florence, which was lovely. It is very easy to make friends here (perhaps everywhere, but certainly at least here.) The food is excellent... obviously. It is far easier to be a vegetarian here than it was in China. The water in the public fountains tastes delicious. Italo Calvino books in Italian sell at reasonable prices in bookstores. I enjoy all of my academic classes: all of the time. Tourists often ask me for directions, and I can answer them in four different languages (with emphatic gesticulation perhaps being a fifth.) I love that.

I want to want to live in Italy, but now I want to live in Cambodia. or Chile. Or Australia.

Take note: if you plan on visiting Rome soon, get dinner at Sora Margherita. I recently went there with a group of friends. It is a favorite of Roberto Benigni's, classic Roman food, and it is... amazing.

More soon!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Rome: Week Two

Leonardo da Vinci invented the flippers, as I learned at an exhibit in the city last week. This portion of the museum was not interactive, unfortunately.

This week was very feverish and strange. I became unreasonably sick last Sunday, and spent most of the week in the hospital, pharmacy, or apartment. I read most of the Game of Thrones series (that has been released so far.) I am on book 5, and I am learning about dragons. After that is completed, I will finally finish three books (that I started and never finished, which is essentially a crime): Infinite Jest, Gravity's Rainbow, and Cryptonomicon. My goal is to have all three of these finished by the time that I re-enter the United States. Otherwise, I have failed.

Tomorrow, I will start going to all of my regularly-scheduled Italian classes again. I will eat gelato every night, because gelato is a cure-all. I started with this regimen yesterday--I had tiramisu, crema della nonna, and pistacchio siciliano.

Yesterday evening, I bought Una Lettera d'Amore (an Italian pastry called a "love letter")  at a little shop near my apartment, and I ate it, because I wanted to be made of love letters. Or at least one love letter. And now I am!

And late last night, I went out for the Notte dei Fori (the Night of the Fora), which was fascinating. The ruins were lit up in strange ways, and the Fori Imperiali was as crowded as Times Square on New Year's Eve, and there were stiltwalkers and singers and protests and all sorts of things and people. When I was walking home past il Colosseo, there was a group of guys sitting around its base, playing bluegrass on their guitars, which reminded me of home. I listened to them for a long time; it reminded me of my 4th of July in China a few years ago, where there was also unanticipated bluegrass.

There were peculiar folk about, as you can see on Stage Right above.

My dinner tonight was an enormous canolo (I can't bring myself to artificially pluralize it... cannoli... ahhh god it is vernacular but it burns) and a cappuccino. The cappuccino was a horribly touristy move, but I couldn't help it--I really like evening cappuccinos. I really like Italy. I like the fountains at the end of every alley, and how you can drink the water from the aqueducts, and all of the different colors of pasta.

Next weekend, I am going to Florence. And then, I want to go to Thailand! But I won't. Or will I?

(Probably not.)