With all of the happy news in the last year, it’s hard to believe that it was also a year ago today that we lost my dad (Pat Curley, 1953-2008). He’d be so excited about everything that’s happening now: our marriage, my own business, living overseas and most of all, his first grandchild. Missing him and thinking of him today.
Monthly Archives: January 2009
There’s good news and bad.
We’re in the new place! (good)
We don’t have Internet. (bad)
Everything went smoothly. Since we only brought the barest of essentials, nearly every one of our boxes went into la cucina, la camera da letto or l’office. Kitchen, master bedroom or the office. At one point the movers asked us if we like to eat a lot. Actually, yes.
More updates next time I have online access.
UPDATE (Jan. 28): Still no Internet.
UPDATE (Jan. 29): No.
UPDATE (Jan. 30): No Internet so we went to Paris for the weekend.
UPDATE (Feb. 5): Technician arrives, but no Internet.
UPDATE (Feb. 6): We’re on!
Fact no. 3.
More of a cultural observation than a “fact” but amusing (and true) all the same…
Consider the humble cappuccino. After ten o’clock in the morning, it is unethical, and possibly even unlawful, to order one. You wouldn’t have one in the afternoon unless the weather was very cold. Needless to say, sipping a cappuccino after a meal is something only non-Italians do. Pizzas at midday are for schoolkids. Rice with meat is perfect, but pasta with meat is embarrassing unless it’s cooked in the sauce. Having a starter after your pasta raises no eyebrows, but eating a main meat dish or fish dish instead of a starter looks greedy. Grating Parmesan cheese over clams is an offense against religion, but if a young chef suggests it, express approval. Wine in flasks is for tourists–package tourists if the flask is hanging on the wall. Finally, there is garlic. Like elegance, garlic should be present but not intrude. The bruschetta garlic toast served in some Italian restaurants abroad would be actionable in Italy.
Once an English friend called this sort of thing “food fascism.” I told her she was exaggerating. She had ordered a cappuccino after her evening meal, and the waiter refrained from calling the police.
– From La Bella Figura: A Field Guide to the Italian Mind by Beppe Severgnini
Survivor said it best, didn’t they? In this case, taking on the world really boils down to making a decision. And we did it! Thank you for your votes and well wishes. We’re going with (drum roll, please)…Apartment A, alias “Villa Borghese“, alias “Marimekko“, alias “The 70s Apartment“.
We’re meeting with the lawyers tomorrow and hope to be in motion as early as next weekend. Nothing would please our current landlords more than an early departure (apparently the young man we’re renting from has “family pressure” to get us out so his father, who owns the apartment, can remodel.). Don’t worry kid, we’re all on the same page. No one would be happier to see the inside of a moving van, filled with my own lovely things. Soon enough!
My friends came! Barbra and Jen, girlfriends from New York, flew in last week for a molto-enjoyable visit. We walked, talked and…ate. And thanks to their sherpa-like efforts, baby will have approximately 1 million white onesies (made of organic cotton, thank you very much) and Paul will be set for cinnamon Altoids until he cleans out all 20 tins or turns into one himself. Whichever comes first.
The search is still on…but nearly over. Our vision for the fixed-up manse is all but a thing of the past considering the new water damage in three walls. If the fixing the windows and painting was such a challenge, it seems unlikely that a quick wall repair will happen in time for us to move, by Feb. 1. So…
Apartment A: Marimekko. Located up by what seems to be Rome’s most celebrated (and gorgeous) park, Villa Borghese, this 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom, 2-balcony flat is the new front-runner. The rooms are all large with high ceilings and lots of light. It’s in excellent condition, much loved by the owners who lived here for 25 years themselves; I only wish their decorating choices didn’t make this history so obvious. The living room and dining room are combined and just off that, they’ve built a library with walls of bookshelves that Paul and I love. There’s even a fireplace. While the balconies aren’t wide enough for dining tables, a few chairs and bistro tables would do nicely. The only downsides are a difficult commute for Paul (Vespa anyone?) and…the kooky tiles.
Fundamentals: Less expensive, more sturdy, unfurnished, two year lease.
Apartment B: Pantheon. Extremely cute, nestled right in the historical center of Rome in between the Pantheon and Via Del Corso. This 3-bedroom, 1 1/2 bathroom flat has two large terraces (square shaped) that would be wonderful to spend time on with Carter and baby or eating dinner with friends. The owner is an artist, who’s filled the space with lots of special touches. The open kitchen is appealing and the extra room with the beamed ceilings would be a neat office for me. On the downside, it’s much more lived in (read: could use a nice paint job), only one full bathroom, there are no parks nearby and the whole area will be mobbed by tourists…very soon.
Fundamentals: More expensive, more charming, fully furnished, one year lease.
Apt A photos: top 3 rows
Apt B photos: lower 3 rows
No, it’s not a mistake that “White Christmas” keeps playing on the radio; today is a bonus holiday in Italy. It’s the Feast of the Epiphany, celebrating the three wise men’s visit to baby Jesus–plus a feisty witch sidekick.
Shops are closed. Many people are off work, people who don’t work for the UN.
Anyway, it’s the last of the Christmas holidays, described by In Italy Online:
The period between mid-December and early January was one constant celebration even in pagan Rome. It began with the Saturnalia, a winter solstice festival, and ended with the Roman New Year, the Calends. After Emperor Constantine adopted Christianity, instead of ending the holiday at the New Year, the celebration extended to January 6 when the Three Kings were believed to have reached the infant Jesus, and so the Romans, too, began to exchange presents on the Epiphany.
Children in Italy believe in a female version of Santa Claus called La Befana, an old woman who flies on a broom and brings presents. According to Italian legend, Three Wise Men asked La Befana for directions to Bethlehem. La Befana was asked to join them but declined three times. It took an unusually bright light and a band of angels to convince La Befana that she must join the Wise Men, but she was too late. She never found the Christ child and has been searching ever since. On January 6, the Feast of Epiphany, La Befana goes out on her broom to drop off stockings filled with treats to all the sleeping children of Italy. Just as children in America leave milk and cookies for jolly Santa Claus, La Befana collects messages and refreshments throughout the night.
Due to nasty cold no. 2, I present fact no. 2:
When you’re in the urbs aeterna (Eternal City), you’ll see these four letters everywhere. And if you paid attention in high school Latin class, you already know that SPQR stands for SENATUS POPULUSQUE ROMANUS, which means “the Senate and People of Rome.” The city government has long attached this abbreviation to any kind of municipal property or municipally approved works, including monuments, lampposts, sewer lids, garbage cans, taxis — even Russell Crowe’s shoulder in Gladiator. Lovers of Italian can have all kinds of fun traipsing around Rome, tracking down inscriptions and translating them, whether carved into triumphal arches or printed on banners at the soccer stadium (UBI MAIOR MINOR CESSAT).
– From Frommer’s Irreverent Guide to Rome (photos by CCM)