As you all know, August is the month when Europeans take their own holidays, and the Italians are no exception. The vibe around the neighborhood is different as some shops have signs up saying closed for August or closed this week or whatever the signs say. This is August here in Rome and I suspect other places in Italy and the Italians take their summer holiday. This week Rosa and I did some exploring in some of the parks earlier this week and this past weekend, we took the train Saturday to Bracciano, which has an amazing medieval castle and a gorgeous volcanic lake with the same name. As you may have seen on Facebook and the pictures I shared earlier. Rosa pointed out that Tom Cruise got married at the castle to Katie Holmes, but that, like Roman history is ancient. Still have not seen the Top Gun Maverick movie, but it can be seen here in Rome with Italian subtitles. We will see.
And yesterday, after a very leisurely morning, we took an afternoon drive to Castelli Romani and she shared three of the amazing towns in the part of Italy, with the beautiful mountains, the volcanic lakes and what these places are famous for. She is a guide and sometimes wants to be with me, but I just want to enjoy the time with her. The three places we went to, wandered about, tasted some foods were Nemi, Ariccia and Frascati. Ariccia is known for its porchetta and also a very high bridge, where many took their own lives. We did not do either, but just enjoyed the views and then when we got to Frascati, we enjoyed the porchetta and it was worth it. The crispy skin is amazing. In any case, it was a very enjoyable day, but the evening was to be also……. as we were going to celebrate our time together, coming up on 2 ½ years.
I can’t believe it has been a month, but it has, and I feel wonderful. I mentioned how life has slowed down for me here and it truly has. I feel happier, healthier, and simply feeling like I am living life. Yes, I have my responsibilities and I am able to balance those very well with my personal life and with that balance, I am contenta, no felice, no molto felice. It has been an amazing month here and I have explored many a neighborhood, ridden the metro, walked many kilometers, met many people, both friends of Rosa’s and finally, finally, Rosa’s momma, di persona, yes, in person, not on a video chat and that is how I ended this last week of July and first full month here in Roma.
It was a wonderful meeting, but this past week was filled with several experiences beyond the usual and that usual did not include going to the market every day. We met momma near metro Emmanuele Vittorio, which is near the Fassi gelato place, where took me weeks ago for the first time. We enjoyed time there and then took a drive outside the center to Eur, to another part of Rome where I had never been. We then parked and took a stroll along the manmade lake which had been used in the Rome Olympics in 1960 for rowing etc. It was nice to stroll around the lake, chat, and even though momma’s English is good and my Italiano, not so, we were able to have a nice conversation. I am truly getting to know this city, the more I am here and recognize where I am without the need of google maps, but yes, the technology is nice. We also made a call stateside to Mr. Kenn, so I talked to my old man when I was with Rosa and momma. It was nice and even they spoke for a few seconds. In any case, it was a nice time.
I have now been here, as I write this morning, 25 days, almost a month, and it does not feel that way. Time really has slowed down for me. Yes, it is 6 hours ahead of the east coast of America, so I don’t have to rush and write this late Sunday night, or very early Monday morning to get to my admin for posting, before I go off the Christmas Tree Shop or other places on a Monday, morning, but I can enjoy it, my tea, my yogurt, and muesli or whatever we have here. I do most of the shopping, as I am the one around and she is out guiding. We share the cooking, because she does want to cook for me, but I also cook and enjoy it be it a simple baked chicken or pulled pork, or whatever I decide to buy at the supermarket or the outdoor markets and there are plenty of fresh fruits and veggies. It gets me out most days, and I get to meet the locals and feel the pace that is Rome and for me, there are two paces here, the local neighborhoods, and all are different, but a slower pace and the hectic feel of the tourist areas. I love the neighborhoods and feel the vibes, checking out the foods, some different, some the same for me.
This week for the American in Rome was nothing out of the ordinary, but it certainly was special. Of course, I took in my morning walks to the markets and stopped in several places along the way. It was a feeling of belonging now that I have been here into my third week and finding my way around, getting to know the neighborhoods and simply feeling like I live here, which in a sense I do. I also went to the Liberation Museum which is about a 25 minute from where I am living, which is built on four floors of an apartment building. I walked each flight, but don’t worry, there is an elevator, and while everything is in Italian, there are some English captions, and an audio-guide in English, so you can understand what happened in Rome during Fascism and the Nazi takeover. I don’t frequent the tourist areas, unless I am meeting up with Rosa after a tour, which of course, I have done. I also met her on one of her tours this week, as it was clients from Minnesota, who were off a cruise ship.
The interesting thing about these clients is that I had started working with them after I left Minnesota last August and so, while I love to meet my clients in person, if possible, this had not happened, so zoom meetings, phone calls and emails were the communication methods. All of this is very normal in this day in age, so when I knew that I do was going to be in Rome at the same time, I asked Rosa to tag along. Of course, at first, she said no. I explained, that for me, it is very important to meet the clients in person, if there is an opportunity, even if around the country or around the world and I have done both in my travels and my many years in the industry. It is very important for me to establish that connection, while some of my clients I have never met in person, when there is a chance to, I look forward to it.
Perhaps, this is another milestone post, perhaps not, number 75 and being here in Rome to date, has been everything I could have imagined. I have not missed being in America, and getting used to the everyday vibe, that is this special place. While I was here in Rome last June for a total of 10 nights and then returned in November for a weeklong stay, I have now “lived” here for that first week plus, shopped, explored, met people, and simply tried to become a part of the fabric that is Rome and live like the Romans do. Of course, Rosa would disagree to a point, as I still shop for an army, knowing that I can break up the purchase into portions and freeze items, which is not the Roman or Italian or for that matter, the European way, but it has its advantages in finding a good price on food, buying it, and then having the opportunity to experience different meals with it. I have, however, most days, and even today, gone to the farmer’s markets, and purchased something here and something there. I enjoy the mingling and it helps in learning the language.
The other thing that I am doing again is pounding the pavement every day, taking the metro which is right around the corner and hopping on busses to get where I need to go, or simply explore the city. Every day it seems, I find a new neighborhood to explore or simply wander and I feel very comfortable here, listening to the Italian, the conversation and interacting with the locals. That was my intent when I got here and after a week plus, I am finding a routine, but I never want it to be routine. Some days I am walking more, Saturday, about 6 miles (10 km) and today only about 5 miles (9 km), but I feel alive in this place. I also can report, and while, I was told by my last doctor, that I could stop the meds, which I did for a while for the blood pressure and the cholesterol, the everyday stresses of life back in the states kept me checking the blood pressure each day, so the prescription I had was there, in case I needed it. As it turns out and I arrived here for the summer, some 10 days ago now, I have not taken the prescription meds at all. Do I check my blood pressure with the cuff every day? Yes, I do and each day now, it has been right where it should be, hovering around 120/80. Sorry, I don’t know it in the metric system yet.