Via Corsini, Rome, Nov. 8—
"Garden" of the Villa Corsini, across from our apartment
ANOTHER LAZY DAY in Rome, begun with an amble up the via della Scala, through the Piazza Sant'Egidio (whose trees have grown considerably since we stayed there four years ago), through the Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere, down the via S. Francesco a Ripi to nearly the viale, then up the Natale del Grande, pointing out our favorite shops for pastries, cheeses, salume, household items and the like. Pointing out, too, the Pizzeria da Ivo where we really must eat one of these days, since we both (both couples, I mean) have grandsons named Ivo, and since it is a soccer pizzeria, and Hans is a soccer adept.
The goal was the Santo Cosimato market, our local market. Last time we were here it was being torn up; now everything's back in order. Not as many stalls, Lindsey said; I disagreed. Finally I asked a saleswoman at one of the stalls: Ci sono tanti banchi come avanti, um, avanti la ricostruzione della piazza?
The woman looked puzzled, and well she might: my Italian is atrocious. But she figured it out, and said No, not quite as many.
Mi dispiace sentirlo, I said, I'm sorry to hear it: it means my wife is right, and I am wrong.
Sempre così, it's always like that, said the smiling woman.
We bought clementines and bananas and a scarf for me, a nice black one, and Anneke found a carry-bag, and I found a couple of used books. But where was the handsome tall redhead we'd enjoyed looking at four years ago? I approached an unoccupied fish-merchant: There used to be a tall, thin, red-headed guy here—
He stopped me, waving toward the man we'd bought the clementines from. It's his friend, he said. Yes, he's still living; he doesn't come as often. A contadino.
Reassured, we turned back down the Natale del Grande toward the viale. Time for tea. More shopping on the street, though: socks, sweaters, scarves, a nice black hat. I always buy my socks from stalls on Italian streets. They frequently give out at the toes after a few wearings, but some of them don't, and they're cheap enough the gamble's worth it.
We sat out the rain with a cup of tea, then toured San Francesco a Ripi, stopping to enjoy the theatrical lighting of Bernini's nearly obscene Beata Lodovica Albertoni, an amazingly lifelike marble sculpture of a robed woman in ecstasy — spiritual ecstasy, we're assured. I was more interested in a small painting — perhaps a self-portrait? — memorializing Margareta d'Arezzo, a woman who had been a painter of flowers in the mid-19th century. The inscription referred to her as modest, productive, and devout, and she looked so ordinary, so down-to-earth, that I wanted to know her. She, and the funeral whose close we respectfully waited before touring the church, meant more to me than Bernini's virtuosity.
Mid-day dinner at Alberto il Sardo (described at Eating Every Day); then the tram 8 up the viale, pointing out G.G. Belli's statue at his piazza, to the Argentina to see about concert tickets. Alas, no music these days at the Argentina: but at Feltrinelli's box office we bought opera tickets for next Wednesday; then trammed back to Trastevere to shop a little for our supper.
Bread and foccaccie at "our" bakery on the via Mora, where I finally made the cold beautiful blond behind the counter smile when Lindsey corrected my Italian: fiore di zucca, not zucchini. Zucca, zucchini, zuccaccia, I said; Sì: tutti corretti, zucche, zucchini, zuccaccie, the woman smiled, and served out our foccaccie and cut a loaf of bread in half, for we buy it half a loaf at a time, warm from the wood-fired oven.
Up the street, the wrong street, and back to find the right one, and up that one to our little supermarket for a bottle of water and a few rolls of toilet paper and such.
Past the casual market at the Piazza Trilussa — another Trastevere poet, though not as ribald as Belli: who could be? — where once again Hans did not buy a beautiful black cap though he admired it, and where none of us was interested in the jewelry. Up the via Benedetta past my favorite breakfast bar, but we did not go in for a coffee; it's time rather for a pot of deicious Lapsong Souchong at home. And back to thumb through the guidebooks, to read the e-mail harvested on my pocket computer as we walked past a wifi hotspot, to read a few pages of Calvino, to nap.
Lazy days in Trastevere.