A glimpse of the human side of my stay here in
I've been enjoying a busman's holiday,
attending many free guided tours led by Italian scholars to major historic venues around
the city -- a pre-Giubileo perk for renovation-weary Romans. Here Roberto Scognamillo is
briefing us on the paleo-Christian church of San Crosogono, founded in the 5th century in
Trastevere (the other side of the Tiber).
Francisco Córdoba is one of the first friends
I made in Rome. He is an artist from Costa Rica who studied in the States before moving to
Europe -- first Switzerland, then Rome where he's worked hard establishing and maintaining
his own art gallery in the center of the city. I'm in awe of his talent and of his ability
to speak five languages!
Paolo also works in the gallery as the
business manager. He's from Naples, writes poetry, and loves to sing. Since his command of
English matches my nascent Italian, we've begun practicing conversazione together
for mutual improvement -- his Neopolitan dialect notwithstanding!
On the left, Giulia, my friend (and landlord) with her
friend Costanzo, a farmer and small vintner living outside of Rome. One weekend Giulia and
husband Mario took me with them through the Castelli Romani region on their bi-monthly
trek to replenish their stock of table wine. When he learned I was Americano, Constanto
was compelled to share that he was an American prisoner of war in North Africa before
Italy capitulated to the Allies during the Second World War -- which made me feel awkward.
He gave me a bag full of fresh chestnuts and allowed me to take this picture -- I wished
I'd had a peace offering for him.
These sisters (and identical twins) originally
from Venice are both respected artists living and working in Rome. Valeria, on the left,
is a painter. The photo was taken at the 'inauguration' of her exhibition of recent work.
Serena, on the right, is a writer who is celebrating the release of her latest volume of
poetry, entitled "Serenassima" -- a play on words with her name and the
traditional title of the Venitian Doge, 'Serenissimo'. The two sorelle are just
as warm and genuine as they appear.
Giovanni Lussu is a friend and typographic
colleague. I consider him the Godfather of the 'type' world in Rome. He teaches at
universities both in Rome and in Milan, commuting every week, while managing to run a
design practice in Rome. And like a true Italian, he also manages to take time for family
and social diversions. Pictured next to the beaming 'don' is a family birthday dinner I
was priviledged to share. From left: sons Pietro, a jazz musician, and Tomaso, an
archeologist; Giovanni and his wife Paola, a Roman matron.