Rome has fallen. Or at least my generalizations of it have. I made my way out to Trastevere today. To those unfamiliar (that would have included me 12 hours ago), it is across the green-tinted flow of pollutants and trash pictured above. I’ve started to question my decision to drink Roman tap water. However, once I crossed that bridge I felt like I was actually in Italy for the first time since I got on that train in Florence.
The traffic was subdued and the car horns almost non-existent. Italian filled the breezy, lazy air, leaving English and its adherents it on the other side of the Tiber. The streets were filled and the inhabitants were going nowhere fast, most were doing so with a glass of wine in hand. I strolled the streets just taking in the atmosphere and enjoying every second of it. I found a great little used bookstore (another recommendation by… well, you can probably guess at this point) and picked up a copy of A Farewell to Arms, a glaring hole in my library. This represented the first non-food/alcohol purchase of my Italian sojourn. I easily found a park, complete with a fountain, to read. The weather was predictably perfect.
Used books are fascinating because not only do they tell the story in the pages, but also a separate one on the pages. The copy I bought was printed in 1957, presumably in the United States. How did it arrive in Rome? When did it get here? Why did the person sell it? What happened with the tear in the third chapter? The stain that went through 6 pages had to have been wine right? I’m probably being a bit dramatic here, but dogears in these books really get to me. This person had to have put Hemingway down in the middle of reading him and then banished the story without apparent rhyme or reason. Or maybe he died at the hands of the mafia. Or maybe she lost the book at a hotel while meeting her secret lover. Page 138 kept for an eternity, never to be revisited.
I got hungry after an hour or so and retreated to those happily stagnant streets. I ended up in a great, randomly assembled restaurant with an enormous painting on the wall depicting an American flag with the stripes bleeding down and the stars as bullet holes. The menu looked spectacular (I’m going there again tomorrow to try another dish), but I settled on lasagna and a glass of wine. The lasagna was incredible and huge. The wine proudly held up Italy’s tradition of spoiling me with fermented grapes.
The next stop was a little café about a block down from the restaurant. The place was dark and cozy and a little run down, but in the best way possible. It reminded me more of an old Cuban bar in Miami than anything. I ordered 4 beers and a cappuccino while I sat on a comfortable leather chair and plowed through about half of the book. Hemingway is hard to put down, despite the apparent disagreement of the book’s previous owner. The bartender saw me mindlessly mouthing the words to You Know I’m No Good, and proceeded to play the entirety of “Back to Black”. I could not have dreamed of a better place to plant myself for the better part of the day.
Spurred by the same impulse as before, I reluctantly closed WWI era Italian romance and went to another recommended location. This one upheld Asshole’s 1.000 batting average. Great pizza at a damn good price is hard to beat. After devouring the pizza almost as thoroughly as I had the book, I resolved that I should head back to the hostel, as it was getting dark and subsequently cold.
I waddled my expanding ass back and showered before hopping in bed and banging this out. I’m expecting a relative repeat of today in the coming 24. I’m just hoping I haven’t hit my page 138.