Friday, December 11, 2009

Rome Senza Bambini

Rome Senza Bambini

We had what the New York Times recently referred to as a staycation. This seems to involve staying at home and doing stuff you wouldn’t usually do. I have not been to Rome in twelve years without trying to both use every possible moment to get archival work done while still spending good time with my kids, my husband and mother who have both made these trips possible. It’s amazing how much easier to navigate the place is when you’re not pushing a stroller or worrying about a cranky kid. Rome literally did our double stroller in at one point and by the time we left its major apparatus was duct tape. It is of course much easier to enjoy a slow late and delicious Roman meal without kids who need to be in an out in well under an hour before turning into mini volcanoes.

We had very good karma the whole time. For example every time I stuck my bank card in a bank machine I received both the card and cash back—this is not a foregone conclusion. Every time we attempted a mode of transit other than feet it worked—also not a forgone conclusion. And no one got hit by a motorino—always a miracle in my mind. I should say that Manuel and I navigate Rome quite differently. I do it totally by feel—oh I think the river is that way, if we go down this street we’ll get to the bookstore with the old guy and the baroque books, and then eventually it will spit us out at the pantheon. He prefers the map.

As always I’m amazed by the way in which Rome still sports a piazza and spectacle culture that I don’t think we really have in the states. Tuesday night after dinner over a drink just to the right of Bruno in Camp di Fiori we saw a fire eater/breather/dancer. This is not the crunchy fire cancers we have in Charlottesville. It’s more like my 17th century puking Frenchman whose ability to puke up wines and lettuces astounded. The guy managed to swallow fire and then blow it out his nose. He also danced with is up and down his arms. There must be a trick but I don’t know what it is. P:iazza Navona at Christmass time is either a nightmare or a spectacle depending on how you look at it. It’s covered with booths of crappy toys surrounding the newly refurbished Bernini fountains. They are by the way stunning at this point in their whiteness and sense of life. To me they represent Bernini at his best with animate marble moving water. Meanwhile the kinky finger puppet guy still comes around in the afternoon and does his show that involves finger puppets dancing rather sensually to some cheesy music.

When we were here in 2005 when Rebecca and Jonathan were two and a half they were absolutely terrified of the “big red man” That would be Santa Claus. Every time we saw him they screamed. Meanwhile Rebecca loved the carousel and would have spent the whole month on it and Jonathan tried desperately to like it. Ever time he turned pasty white, and once he even puked. But he didn’t want to miss out on anything.

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