n i g h t i n g a l e s h i r a z / blog
on Via dei Fori Imperiali.

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sweet december.

I wake up to the cat, rumble-grumbling in my ear.  I wake up to Roman bluelight that filters through the brown shutters like it has all day to tell me about the city.  Somehow the comforter is even hotter this week, when it should not be.  I flip the switch for the bedside lamp, and I read.  I push away the day; I am not quite ready.

It is touching nine o'clock.  The hardest part is getting out of bed, and walking across the living room, when the hardwood floor is the coldest it ever gets (which is not even that cold), to turn the heat up for the morning.  Like every other winter morning I have lived here, I hear other people's voices in my head as I do this -- high-pitched and stupid: you could program the thermostat, you know.  There are still people in my life who don't understand...  At least.  They *think* they are in my life.

Anyway.  Thursday morning unfolds.  The cat meows and the coffee machine growls and there are enough cookies (two) to get back into bed and read a little bit more of The Time Traveler's Wife.  When the bathroom radiators have warmed up enough (enough to make the towel perfect), I turn on the little boombox, and let David & David fill the tiled space.  (Only in the eighties, did they make music that was at once fragile and roughshod.  Only in the eighties could you have had Springsteen with his velvet rims and his everlasting kiss -- in the same song.  You look back and it is so hilariously clear, why music changed with the Internet Era...)  Outside it is Roma Capo d'Anno, and I have time.

All this post-Andrew week, I have made promises and declarations and mental-cartwheels:  I will write more.  I will regret less.  I will read more, and I will read harder.  I will not be afraid.  I will keep this.  I will keep this.

For the afternoon of New Year's Eve, I take my not-so-new camera out of its naughty corner, where it has been sitting in post-Kodak-purgatory, after Il Poggiale.  I tell myself that even inanimate objects deserve a second, third, and fifteenth chance.

Outside, it is amazing.  Rome is alive and awash with the kind of crowds that make you wonder where the locals begin, and where the tourists finish.  (I know, I know -- the tourists never finish.)

I walk around the hulk of the Colosseo (can you even say something is crouching, when it is so BIG?) and past the gesticulating gladiators, up the steps to Via Annibaldi.  I cross Cavour and the camera takes over -- the madonnina on Serpenti with the perfect little halo of teeny-tiny lightbulbs and everyday-fresh flowers from the fioraio on Via Baccina.  The new pescheria where the women are so chuffed to have their fish-arranging skills photographically appreciated.  A brown-haired little girl in a navy-blue peacoat dragging her heels up Panisperna.  At Via Milano I stop and pick up three little good-luck cupcakes for the New Year (four-leaf-clovers and little-bitty ladybugs; chocolate, vanilla and coconut).  I find prosecco at the Despar, and by five o'clock I am at Urbana for one of those last-minute ideas that turns into the perfectest thing ever.

Every New Year's Eve should start with cupcakes and champagne.

[nightingaleshiraz] [?]
[Via Marco Aurelio, Roma]
[giovedý 31 dicembre 2009 ore 18:48:14] []


I run out at lunch, to bus-hop my way to the Ufficio Scavi by San Pietro.  In my bag is their email, confirming my reservation for a tour of the necropolis beneath the basilica, and asking for payment (ten euro apiece to walk among the foundations of all Christendom).

I love that their email is "postmarked" from Vatican City.

I also love that I know how to take three different buses to wind up on Via della Conciliazione, faster.  I love listening, fly-on-the-wall-style, to all the blissful young priests and seminarians on the bus -- cassocked or collared, and ever-so-clean-faced (one of them takes ten minutes to tell another how big a C-5 cargo airplane can be: "the wingspan of a football field," "you can drive a tank into the bay," and "dude, it's like a building in the air" -- so this is what happens when boys can't talk about girls -- they sound just like boys who can...).

I love Piazza San Pietro on a day like today (and somehow, most days I wind up on Piazza San Pietro are days like today: a hundred and forty stony saints skulking against a sky that makes lapis look bad; two hundred and forty eight columns that echo away from you in a wave of ever-receding marble; and everywhere you look, the kind of sundance that makes you wonder if Ra was an apostle after all).

The Swiss Guard likes that I offer him a choice of Italian or English.  But he is so glaringly, blaringly blonde-lashed and blue-eyed (and so nervous), I almost wish I spoke Icelandic.

As I hurry past his balloon-panted, pinstriped loveliness (Swiss Guards always make me feel like I have walked into a small child's storybook), I worry about lines, and waiting, and mistakes -- for all of a split second.  Then I remember that this is not Italy -- this is Vatican City.  And that everything works.

I am in and out of the Ufficio Scavi in under four minutes.

[nightingaleshiraz] [?]
[Enoteca Passaguai, Roma]
[mercoledý 02 dicembre 2009 ore 13:34:37] []