Rosa and I took in a movie, in this case, an outdoor venue at the Borghese Gardens and remember, this is where we first met, at the Borghese Gallery, when she was my guide there, on the 19th of February 2020, right before I had to get off the continent due to Covid and the world shutting down for the better part of 1 ½ to 2 years. We saw Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story. I really enjoyed it and had some good memories as I remember some thirty-five plus years ago, being asked by my biological father Kenn, who at the time, taught music, choir etc. at Canarsie High School, in Brooklyn, to sit in with the pit orchestra (all high schoolers of course besides me😊) and play the trumpet parts in the musical. It was a lot of fun, and it was a nice memory and something he and I shared those many years ago.
I have played trumpet, since 4th grade and still occasionally pick up the horn, although I have not picked it up since I played on the music video I did for Rosa and that was for Christmas 2020 and was shared after New Years 2021, with the help of some friends. If you have never seen the YouTube music video, check it out at www.YouTube.com/wanderingpuffin and look for Rosa of Roma. In any case, we had a very nice evening and also enjoyed Saturday together as she and I went to Ostia, a first for me and got a bit sunburned, but it was nice walking along the Tyrrhenian Sea. It is technically part of the Mediterranean Sea, so named for the Tyrrhenian people identified with the Etruscans of Italy as per Wikipedia, so we have now learned something new. In any case, it was a very nice day out, enjoyed some very good fried bacala, calamari and gamberi and squeezed in a gelato. When we returned, we stopped and walked through the Gabartella neighborhood, which I did not recognize at first, but Rosa reminded me that this is where we went, that special place of hers, the second time we were together, after I returned to Rome after a few days in Florence, before I left for the next day for Copenhagen, but that was at night. This was during the afternoon, so I did not recognize it, but it was another part of this special week.
It has been a week of new experiences and regular routines as I am in the second half of my stay here in Italy as I write my 80th post of Weathering the Storm. I am not counting the days because I do not want it to end. Today, in essence marks a point of one month and a few days left, as I return stateside on the 15th of September, but I will return, sooner rather than later. It was my intent to return to Italy, as I had been invited and accepted into a program in Tuscany, but the timing, as much as I would like to return that quickly, had some technical difficulties. You see, as an American citizen, I am absolutely allowed to visit as many countries in the Schengen Zone as I want, but I can’t do it for more than 90 days total, in a 180 day period, and although, I have not been here in Italy that long, nor will I have been when I leave here the middle of next month, I was also in Spain in April and that counts towards the 90 total days in a 180 day period, so I would have gone over that threshold.
The choices I had were to take a chance, return knowing I had a few extra days of those 90 to use, but when I left, according to the schedule, I would have been over my limit, legally and could have been fined or worse. The second option was trying to secure a business visa for the balance of the year, and I thought, being here in Rome, I should be able to find the correct ministry, ask for an appointment, fill out the proper documents, pay the appropriate fee and, with any luck, receive the visa, as it was a legitimate business reason to return. But alas, after contacting ministry, and being told, it can only be done at the local consular office in the area in which I reside stateside and having that confirmed, by that office, I was left with only one choice, and that regrettably was to cancel my attendance. I could have flown back stateside for a week, let’s say, knowing when I would receive the appointment, which in essence would have given me the added days I needed anyway, but I would miss being here with Rosa, and my decision was made. I know I will have other opportunities and as the UK is not in the Schengen Zone, another opportunity made itself available, and so, I will be going to the UK for a hosted conference at the end of September. It is a lesson learned as this experience overall here in Italy has been and thank you to a very good friend of mine of the situation. It is truly appreciated.
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.
Weathering the Storm with the Wandering Puffin