Even though we are back in cville settling quickly into Hanukkah fatigue here is one last missive from Rome. (It's a move into the synagogue kind of weekend)
I was struck by how many people I’ve been seeing off and on now for a decade. Not the friends or even the librarians but the people in shops and in neighborhoods. We went to the burnt bakery in the Jewish ghetto and I asked one woman if a kind of cookie had nuts. (noce) and she said no. But then the other woman looked at me and said “no no no it has almonds and she has an allergy she can’t eat them” We don’t even know each others name and I haven’t been there in almost two years and she still remembers. ( I temporarily forgot that one has to list every possible nut when explaining a nut allergy in Italian) She’s also the one who when Eli was 17 months old explained how thrilled she was that I was raising him bilingual—at the time he had about six words and three were machine, latte, and pizza. The bakery had a poster advertising a chabad event for Hanukah in the piazza Barberini—slightly incongruous?
We also saw a familiar face at the Borghesi gallery where Manuel had as it turns out never been there even though his kids have been twice. So we took the 116 electric bus up to the villa to see Dafne turning into a tree. And there we saw the mean museum lady who I had a giant fight with the last time I was there. For some reason she insisted that Eli who was then 19 months could not ride in a soft back pack. I kept telling her that everyone would be happier if he was locked up. She finally said I could put him on the front. He was having none of it so we let him loose and as I predicted he spent a good teal of time trying to slap Dafne and Apollo five and screaming at the “Hatu’s” in the ceiling. Hatu meant helicopter and I still haven’t found one up there but whatever. Jonathan was by then impressing our friend and now his violin teacher with his descriptions of various mythological figures. He had a funny way of explaining the rape of Proserpina which alas I can’t remember. In any case Manuel made me give my ticket to the other person. I think he was afraid I’d start fighting with her again as my little obnoxious Italian phrases were already sneaking out of my lips. As always I was moved by the liveness of Bernini’s statues; you can see Dafne in the process of turning into a tree—an self in motion. Those who fell in love with statues seem not that crazy when you look at these. They also had a Caravaggio and Francis Bacon exhibit going. Caravaggio was excellent but the juxtaposition turned into curatorial overzelousness. I couldn’t quite get into it—but maybe that’s just me.
I noticed an exponential increase in the number of gemelli in Rome. When we first started brining the kids to Rome not only did we notice the very low birthrate but twins were incredibly rare. Ours hanging out in the double stroller were sort of neighborhood celebrities and came off as slightly freaky. I think in three months we saw one other set. This time we stopped counting after we saw ten sets. And all of them were under three.