Seven am the alarm rings, I search for my phone eyes closed and desperately start hitting the snooze button… but a few minutes later my half awakened consciousness smacks me in the face — “not today, today you are not waking up with Rome, today is THE day, the productive day, the one where I’ll get to tick off my long unchecked list of to-dos”.
I throw myself out of bed, actually throw myself out, because any slower attempt would result in a two hour “snooze”. I walk out onto the terrace, with my caffè doppio, eyes still squinting, my skin awakened by that morning chilly air which fills my body with goosebumps. I quickly grab a throw, curl myself into it and sit on my precious terrace..in a state of “dormiveglia”, listening to the sounds of a city which is still asleep, observing my beloved Rome light up… slowly acquiring all it’s pastel colors.
The streets are still quiet and empty except for the sound of seagulls, — recent additions to Rome’s sky — the garbage men shuffling bags into trucks and a whistling man walking himself home after a night of revelry .
It’s 7:45, Rome doesn’t wake up before 9, I’m ahead of schedule, I feel confident, it’s a promising day, I’m beating Rome: 1-0.
Rome won’t have the best of me, not today! Yesterday Rome won, it always wins Mondays, but Mondays don’t count, they never do, they exist for the sole purpose of easing us into the week, the real week “officially” starts on Tuesday. While I’m slowly waking up, I tell myself that today I won’t be caught up by any unnecessary chats, strolls, errands, a mid-day coffee or an evening aperitivo. NOT TODAY.
A high pitched bark and a concerned look from Penny snaps me out of my thoughts and back into reality. It’s somehow 8:30am I must have gotten lost in my thoughts for a little too long, but my dog makes sure I get back on track. “Andiamo” leash on “e via” we are on Rome’s streets, it’s time for her morning walk and my morning cappuccino “al bar”.
After a brief stroll, one dog encounter and a few corner sniffs, we get to Caffe Ciampini, right in time for opening at 9 am. Time isn’t wasted deciding what to have, Ale, the bartender, already knows, “Buongiorno! cappuccino, espresso, cornetto vuoto e un bicchiere di acqua frizzante” — a perfectly creamy cappuccino, one espresso, an empty cornetto and a glass of sparkling water. We exchange a few friendly words, “del piu e del meno” (of everything and nothing) and with a “a domani” (see you tomorrow) we’re off.
We start walking decisively towards home, with an unusual fast New York style pace, as if we were running away from something, trying to ignore all distractions and suppressing the innate craving of enjoying that clear blue day for a little while longer.
It took one chubby labrador and its owner — an older beautiful lady with impeccable grey hair tied up in a ponytail holding various bags filled with goods from the market– to do the trick. “How could we properly get through a dense work day without some good food at home?!” I tell myself that a quick stop by the market won’t steal too much time but will make us a whole lot happier. It didn’t take much for us to turn around and walk down Via Di Campo Marzio, right by the Chiesa della Santa Maria Della Concezione and onto Via della Maddalena.
On our way to the market, we start feeling the lively Rome taking shape, the sun is warming up the and the streets are filling up, I feel alive. Once we get to the crossroad, where we need to make a right turn onto Via delle Coppelle we see a line, it couldn’t be for anything but for one of Rome’s best oldest butcher shops: Feroci… “already prepared zucchine ripiene or a saltimbocca alla romana” would make for a great dinner and would require very little prep. I take a quick detour, run in, grab a ticket… it reads 67… I have at least 7 customers before me, enough time to run over to my original destination, the small market in Piazza Delle Coppelle (a real gem, known by few). I quickly grab the daily Fall “necessities”: broccoli romani, puntarelle, clementini, e castagne. When I go to pay, Alberto shouts “signori e’ appena arrivata la mozzarella, e’ freschissima..” (mam, the mozzarella just arrived..it’s so fresh). How could anyone say no to that?! My answer is simple “dato che ci siamo aggiungi anche del pane, dei pomodori e del basilico grazie!” (at this point, add also some bread, tomatoes, and basil, thank you!) I leave with two huge green bags, “oops, I got carried away and bought way too much..I’ll have to call a couple of friends to finish it all up”
My phone rings, I don’t pick up, I don’t have any free hands to do so. It rings again, ceaselessly, it must be mom! After the third call, I stop, put the bags down and answer “Mamma dimmi?!” (Mom, tell me), “Are you at the market by any chance? I ordered a swordfish carpaccio at Er Pesciarolo right on the square’s corner, can you please go by and bring it over later?” A few minutes later, with one extra bag, I look down at my watch, “shoot! it’s 11:00am!!” How could it be? I speed walk to Feroci and obviously my calculations were wrong, I missed my turn, while I decide if it’s worth waiting a minute longer I grab a new ticket…72..only two people in front of me. It’s worth the wait! It always is.
And you can imagine where the rest of the day went: I surrendered to Rome, to its beauty, to it’s smells, to its will of being enjoyed, my pace is slower, roman, at this point why not have another coffee (one accompanied by orange water at the new Roscioli caffé), peak into a few churches ( just like Santa Maria Dell’Anima and San Luigi dei Francesi ), go buy some fresh peonies da Stefano at Campo dei Fiori and get some pizza al taglio at the Antico Forno Roscioli or/and at the Gian Fornaio in Cola di Rienzo, or maybe do all the above and more, the options are endless and so is the day.
I head to Caffe’ Sant Eustachio for one more very needed coffee and a chat with the owner and friend Fede. Rome’s famous cafe is only a few streets down, but why take the shorter route when the longer one could take me into the Pantheon, one of those roman buildings I’ve entered a myriad of times, but there are never enough times for its grandiosity to amuse me.
A chat with Fede turned into a lazy lunch at L’Amatricianella made of “buccie di patate, cicoria ripassata and a amatriciana to share” followed by a stroll all the way to Trastevere for Otaleg’s gelato or a less gluttonous passeggiata in Villa Borghese with a peak into the National Gallery of Modern Art. All things which didn’t stop me from an evening aperitivo at Hotel Locarno and hosting a bunch of friends over for dinner.
If you have lived in Rome you know what I’m talking about, ogni scusa e’ buona (every excuse is good) to enjoy the dolce far niente. It’s a city of temptations where a work out run somehow turns into a reason to “run” the fori romani, pass by the colosseum, cross the Parco Del Colle Oppio and end up at Panella for a caffè with zabaione followed by a maritozzo con la panna at Regoli…
In a few words, “A Roma c’e sempre domani …” there is always tomorrow for everything but life.
Life just happens here, between a coffee, a chat, a lunch and a passeggiata.
Unexpectedly, spontaneously, without too much planning and it might not be the most efficient way to live but it’s definitely a pretty damn good one.