Back to Diane’s visit, this time part II. I believe we are up to Sunday morning.
On Sunday we get lost on the way to the market at Porta Portese, and fall off the bottom of my map. Second visit to the market, second time I’ve got lost on the way. An elderly German couple attempt to help us, and surprisingly their expressive gesturing and German directions do send us in the right direction, and we eventually reach Ponte Sisto.
Entering the market, we are again surrounded by a large number of nuns. They head to a jumble-sale like stall, where they proceed to closely inspect a pair of massive, Bridget-esque grey knickers. Diane and I are alarmed by this. Surely bartering for knickers from a bustling market stall is not the correct decorum for a shy, retiring nun? Clearly these particular nuns have rejected Sartorial for the Ecclesiastical in favour of finding a bargain. Scandalous!
Now, it becomes clear that when Laura and I visited the market a few weeks ago we didn’t do it justice. Apparently, in the limited time we had, we only skimmed the surface and hence didn’t find it that great, the first part of the market containing mostly hats, tacky jewellery, scarves and junk. Diane and I venture further in, though, and find a wealth of clothes, bags, furniture, trinkets, and bits of decor that generally represent exactly what I have been planning on filling my future house with since I was about thirteen years old. I didn’t even realise that the market extended this far back, the first time I visited it. My favourite stall sells furniture – mirrors, dressers, chests– that are printed with art by Gustave Klimt. I do love a bit of Klimt, and having decor like this in my future home has been my plan, like I said, for years (see my Lancaster campus room as an example). So, as you can imagine I am very excited. Since I am waiting to be paid I walk on, but not before checking that the stall will be there every Sunday for the foreseeable future. I will have to look into shipping costs between here and the UK, because the things on this stall are too good to forget about.
We walk into Trastevere after the market, and the restaurant where we get lunch immediately becomes one of my new favourite foody places in Rome. I have porcini mushroom and truffle fettuccini, and Diane has Tuna salad. The food is so, so good. I eat my pasta in wonderment that food can be this good. It is on a par with Sohra Margarita, possibly it is even better. I don’t ever want my fettuccini to end. Afterwards we have vanilla cream profiteroles and a pear, chocolate and cinnamon cake. Enough said.
The botanic garden is closed when we get there, which is a bit ridiculous since it is a Sunday and therefore the optimum time for a tranquil stroll through a fragrant giardino. Instead we go to Palazzo Corsini, which I first visited a few weeks ago. Diane likes a painting of the Virgin Mary, Jesus and Joseph, which I hadn’t noticed the first time I was here. The painting is understated because it is small, but the light is amazing – it looks like it has been lit from behind by a bulb. Unfortunately it isn’t one of the ‘of note’ paintings, so the details of it aren’t listed in our leaflet.
Afterwards we cross back over the river and go to the Synagogue museum – Diane has wanted to go since we walked around the ghetto on Friday. On the tour, which takes us into the Italian Synagogue, we encounter this week’s Stupid American. When the guide tells us the name of the architects, one of them has a name that sounds a bit like Armani. The Stupid American, who is wearing a kippah and is the only Jew there, raises his hand as if he is in school and asks if this was Giorgio Armani.
No, says the very patient tour guide. No, it was not Giorgio Armani who built the Synagogue. You idiot.
After the tour and the rest of the museum, it becomes clear that the staff are closing up and that it is time for us to leave. This is easier said than done, however, since there are barriers blocking every exit. We try three different ways out, get waved at by some police because we are going the wrong way, and eventually go back inside to ask. We are directed up some steps, where we are promised we will find ‘a small green gate with a bell’. Getting out of this complex seems like a massive challenge. Clearly, I observe as we finally pass through the exit gate, they just want to give us the full ghetto experience.
It is very sad times when my mother leaves in a taxi at 9.45am on Monday morning. I spend the rest of the day battling with the Alphabet House washing machine (the one at the Bellomos’ is temporarily on the blink) and reading about Elizabeth Gilbert’s Ashram adventures.
I spend Tuesday afternoon planning Christmas themed activities for B&B. Our last two weeks (I can’t believe it’s only two weeks until I leave) are mainly going to consist of glittery silver snowflakes, glittery cards for their friends, and glittery Christmas stockings. Hopefully, like shrieky magpies, they will be instantly attracted to the glitter and these activities will therefore keep them entertained.
The next day is the occasion of my last ever Wednesday lunch with Ashley – a week from today, the day I am going to Florence, she is flying back to Detroit to get married. It is a nice lunch. We go to Sohra Margarita in the ghetto and get the good pasta and red wine. I will miss our Wednesday lunch club, weekly ritual that it has become.
Afterwards I go and sit upstairs in Feltrinelli, where I am delighted to find a large selection of flavoured teas in their cafe (tea geek). As I said, this is where I sit for a large proportion of the afternoon and write most of this blog post.
I’m not needed to work until 5.40pm, which leaves a great deal of time for luxurious bookshop lingering. When I do get to the Bellomos’, I spend a lovely evening creating glittery snowflake decorations with the twins. A woman called Joanna comes round, to teach Irene how to cook roast beef and cous cous. The family’s old housekeeper Maria also visits with her tiny, tiny baby, and B&B demonstrate their gymnastics for her on the living room rug, making everyone increasingly nervous about the proximity of the baby to their flailing limbs. It is all very companionable. The roast beef is a blood dripping revelation (it hasn’t moved me away from being an almost vegetarian, though) and the cous cous is a world away from the packet variety that I ate so religiously at Lancaster.
A truly devastating thing happens on Thursday, which completely ruins my plans for the next day. I hope you are ready for it, because it is a biggie.
The National Museum of Pasta is closed for renovation.
Honestly, I am so upset when I discover this. I was very much looking forward to visiting the Pasta Museum, as a break from all the antiquities and historical learning.
But alas, this information presents itself firmly from the website as I am writing a blog post about nuns and drinking sugary espresso: The National Museum of Pasta is currently closed for renovation work. A date of opening will be given in the coming months.
Not soon, then. Not in the next 18 or so days that I still have in Rome. Gutting.
Instead, I suppose I will have to use the day to visit the Capitolini Museum, and see some renaissance art. Which I suppose isn’t too bad a way to spend a Friday, although I bet I won’t be getting any free samples of agnolotti there.