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Jun 30, 2007 - Nibbles    No Comments

Instantous Italianous

This morning we had something of a poetry scavenger hunt. I need to complete the sketches assigned on the break because I didn’t keep up. We started in the Campo, our first pitch was to write a riddle about something we found there. Mine was:

Instantous Italianous
Fragrance your cocina
Preparation for a date
What am I?

I had been amused by the premixed spices you can pick up to create your own sauces. Must buy tons to take back home with me!

We checked out this building where there was a very cool perspective trick. (Find name of artist, starts with a “B”.) It was very cool, but unfortunately I knew the trick. Interestingly enough apparently the distance is 11 meters while the perspective cheats your eye into believing that it would be 33 instead.

I hurried home for a catch up cohort meeting picking up pizza from the place that Matt had suggested. I didn’t really care for it compared to others, but that might have been just the one I had chosen.

We met up again at the end of the day for “High Mass” at the park just to the right of the top of the Campodiligio. Every person read a poem or piece written from the past two weeks, and then Rick serenaded us with a collection of lines from what we had read. I believe he had at least one from everyone. It was brilliant. Then he bid us adieu with a few of his own. He’s clever and brilliant; it’s sad he’s going home.

I walked with Davida and Lisa on the way home and we stopped in the Ghetto for dinner at a place I’d noted several times called Giggelleto. It was really a charming place and dinner was quite good. Would love to take Brian and his family there.

I ended the evening with a drink at Joe’s working furiously to figure out a place to stay for the holiday. I finally gave in to reason (wasting too much time on searching for the “perfect place” is wasting as much as money) and settled on Hotel Cristina in Sant’Agnello (a neighborhood or neighboring town of Sorrento).

Jun 29, 2007 - Nibbles    No Comments

Truth is the relic sought…

Okay, so the week does seem long. I enjoy our days exploring sights of the city, but it is a bit exhausting especially when it spills into the weekends as well. I can’t wait for our upcoming four day holiday! That having been said, Friday seemed to be another day to drag myself out of bed with complaints of being tired. We headed off to San Clemente, Laurie and I walking together the whole way (it’s past the Colosseum). The morning was actually fairly cool, so it was a nice walk. It turns out that the Church doesn’t open the museum until noon, so we had all arrived two hours too early. No worries, Carol and Alex gave presentations on the Mythraic cult, and Sarah and Poppy told us about the ancient Christians who apparently secretly worshipped in the adjoining structure separated by a tiny hallway, both buried beneath the current structure of the Church.

A fraternity of dogs came to play in the fountain at which we were gathered and we gave way and headed into the Museum. Again, an amazing experience. I must do research to determine what went on here. They say that the Apostle Paul (or was it Peter?) met here in secret with the earliest Christians in Rome.

Our pitch was of “relics”. My sketch was of controversy, too abstract, not a tangible object, but I defended my position.

“Paradise lost, though not regained
As Milton would have us told
Truth is the relic sought…”

Laurie and I met up with Lelo (Francesco) to go grab something to eat. He took us to a pizza place just around the corner on the way to Piazza Navona called Monte Carlo’s. It was yummy yummy. Loved their zuccina fiori. Laurie picked up the tab (must pay her back), and then we headed to Joe’s for a drink before sacking out. I was a bit tipsy, and was exhausted by the time I passed out.

Jun 28, 2007 - Nibbles    No Comments

The Maze that was the Vatican Museum

Kelsey and I walked through the museum together. We went at about 12.30pm and virtually walked right in. There were about five people ahead of us to buy tickets in the student line. There was a ticket counter with no wait at all. We raced through the museum. I wanted to see Raffaello’s paintings, and she didn’t really want to be there at all. The School of Athens is her favorite painting though, so we trekked as fast as we possibly could through the maze of rooms, halls and people to Raffaello’s stanzas.

Funny note, as we were walking along the grand hallway with the gold ornamental and frescoed ceiling about to step into the next room a young boy in front of us exclaimed in awe “Oh god, oh god, oh my god!” for a moment I thought he was like all the others who were all too eager in anticipation for the Sistine Chapel thinking each successive room was “the” one… the words to accompany his exclamation of awe cleared up any confusion… “Oh my god… air conditioning!”

Though we would have loved to avoid it, and its irreverent people, we ended up pushed along into the Sistine Chapel. We were both in shock at how virtual every person had camera raised above their head flashing away taking photos, and silence wasn’t even a consideration. Almost made you wonder if they’d designated the day as a free-for-all for amateur photographers? Where was imposing baritone voice intoning “No fotos” and “Silencio”?

Jun 27, 2007 - Nibbles    No Comments

Walking in the City of the Dead

Today we got up early and headed to a bus which took us about an hour out of the city to Cerveteri to the ancient Etruscan’s city of Necropoli. This was an interesting experience, tombs which you climb down into… a whole city of them. It was a very peaceful area and contradictory to its name the city was brimming full of life.

We headed to Tarquinia for lunch and checked out the museum there. The view of the sea was beautiful from this hilltop town. After making the rounds in the museum and capturing a snapshot of yet another built in seat nestled next to the window (perhaps you’ve noticed the trend in my photos?) I wandered the streets. I found a music school with a stage all set waiting for an audience to perform for.

Next we checked out another set of tombs, these with frescos inside. The burial place was set atop the hill and again the view was amazing. One tomb held a racy scene… interesting to see what some choose as their backdrop in preparation for the ‘afterlife’.

Jun 26, 2007 - Nibbles    No Comments

What is for real, and what’s for sale?

This was the first time that we have bothered to take the bus and metro. Laurie and I rose early to meet the group at Bruno in the Campo, but alas no one was to be found. We bought tickets at the Tabacchi and headed to Largo Argentina to pick up the first bus headed to the Termini (40 or 64). We arrived safely and picked up the train to Cinecittá, the next to the last stop on line A, if I recall correctly. On arrival we exited the station and arose from the underground into our group clustered around the corner café.

A short walk, and past the mall of 100 stores (where incidentally the Rome Center Director would never shop!) we found our way to the second gate of the Cinecittá which is occasionally labeled #31. One is left to wonder if they occasionally consider a sign of more permanence and stature. A round man met us and was to be our guide. The Director (what is her name?) of the center our translator.

At Cinecittá they keep the sets that are built around, deteriorating and dilapidated, just in case they might be of use again. To our right sits a train, on our left a jagged rock wall, a façade of course. We enter a long cylinder link domed tent where a replica of a submarine is housed. I can’t remember for what movie it was made, but it is true in detail except of the width of the galley walkway which was enlarged to make way for the cameramen and equipment. I stole up the portal above into a small room with gauges and a life vest. It all is so authentic—if it weren’t for the readings frozen in time, dials painted to look like glass, and wood where there ought to be metal with.

Outside again ants swarm below our feet and we learn of magnesium snow. It sounds like the real thing under foot, and packs together authentically too. Onward to the replica makers yard. Italy requires that any replica either be larger or smaller than the original, however this one studio alone is able to be true to the original. They make nearly everything, and the yard reminds me of the abandoned pieces in the terror of boy’s room in the house next door. A tiny house to gain perspective, even in the photo you must look twice.

Then we enter a Piazza, but this one is like all else, not real. In time’s passing you can now determine the seams of the 1 meter by 1 meter squares which make up the scene. I can’t help but feel the irony as we settle in on the stairs taking a momentary break, stairs as if they are stairs, in a Piazza as if it were a Piazza.

We then press onward towards the set of “Gangs of New York”. We walk through time and in a curious turn I take of my own I step through a wooden palette worn thin. Sheepishly I return to the group, seemingly none surprised it was I that caused the disturbance. Exiting the fake city we pass by a giant white wall where scenes are superimposed.

We walk down a street that once was a scene from New York, now adapted to be Italian. Posters paper the wall at the end, each certainly individually designed to belong and fit in. I ask Kevin, “What’s that word for when something appears in art or movie that isn’t actually from the time period?” he answers and again I’ve forgotten.

No more cameras–we’re approaching the area where the HBO series “Rome” is filmed. During filming it is a secured set, no one allowed anywhere near. But it is off season and when a truck exits the area shrouded in ribboned privacy fencing we see through the gate. Greece to the left, Italy to the right; It’s quite a sight to behold.

We then step to the entrance of the Studio 5 (what is the word?). This is where Fellini, Mel Gibson and others recreate reality piece-by-piece in a contained environment. The guard/tour guide tells us of how he disturbed the set during filming of the “Passion of the Christ”, he had reached through the veil enclosing the space—he had just wanted to touch the leaves of a tree. Gibson was very angry yelling at him.

Winding up our tour we walk through the museum like common house with posters memorializing each movie. Ben Hur was filmed here! A humongous infamous statue from the movie is just outside as we exit.

The whole way through the tour I just keep hearing the lyrical line “What is for real, and what’s for sale” in my head.

Returning home I chat with Rick on the metro, then lead the small group to quickly board the next bus about to leave, going our way. I locate the leather shop (La Pella) that he suggested for the more commercial leather goods. I debate a bag and wonder if I should just have one made, or would I miss the intricacies of my own well loved bag.

Jun 25, 2007 - Nibbles    No Comments

Dusty, dirty and hot

Monday we walked through the Forums and it was very hot. Somehow that just seemed right. Walking through I looked up to notice high above all else, at the top of a steeple, and at the base of the holy symbol of Christianity, a blossom of green. I was stunned – how does a plant end up there? From what is it growing? There is no ground, is life springing forth from a seed carried by wind or bird and in the soil of years worn cement into dust just reminiscent of dirt that a blossom takes hold?

After I went to the Coliseum, again I make note that it was hot. But I hadn’t seen this site last time and figured I would get the task out of the way so next time people hear I’ve traveled to Rome I might answer affirmatively to the next question… “Did you see the Colosseum?” Thanks to our group ticket from the Forum I was able to skirt the winding, sweaty and grumpy crowd snaking its way to the Ingresso. In line I met a charming group; I smiled at their accents, and smiled again when they affirmed my Carolinian suspicions—a family plus others, visiting from Raleigh.

I am happy that I went to the Colosseum because the museum had an exhibit of Eros, one of the five Greek forms of love, and Greek god. I enjoyed the exhibit (I love Hellenistic sculpture, especially of female form) and took a few requisite photos of the Colosseum itself.
Returning home was like a trek through hell. Did I mention that it was hot? I tore through the Forums as fast as possible, stopping once to refill my water bottle whereupon a woman informed me that others are also waiting (in line). My humor failing I nodded and reminded her that I had been waiting first. American’s are rude, I felt no shame in my rightful claim, only in that I responded to the erroneous sarcastic commentary from a New Jersey housewife surely accustomed to preferential treatment.

I returned home for a quick cold shower, redress for siesta and lunch.

Jun 24, 2007 - Nibbles    No Comments

Poetry and Prose

I woke this morning surprisingly stable relative to the previous evening’s taxation. A quick cappuccino at Joe’s before heading up the stairs for Rick’s lecture. There was a small but eclectic group there. Didn’t see some I would have expected, and was surprised at others who did make it.

To follow are my notes from his lecture, and noting that “lecture” sounds far too formal for the relaxed time spent in the Prowl.

Poetic utterance versus oral speech. We confuse language as being informational… Verbal utterance as being only a vessel into which we pour information.

“Poetry is what gets lost in translation”.

We take in the world in stereo, with both head and heart. Our culture tends to denigrate the emotional. Epiphanic. Art to bring emotion to focus via emotional intelligence.

“Poetry is a device designed to go off in your head [or heart].”

Poetry is like a violin—you’ll get better with practice. Directed practice is better than random.

“The soul is chained to a dying animal.”

Three methods to get at this animal:

  1. Phanopia-Fantasy, an image through the eye, metaphor and image
  2. Melopia-through the ear, meter and rhyme
  3. Logopia-through the effects of language which have tonal consequence, linguistics

Any appeal to the sensorial is an image.

Robert Frost’s aspiration: “to put a few poems where they are difficult to dislodge”

Keats, once thought it was “archaic diction”.

“Keep your pencil on the city and describe what you see.”

Trust the image (to evoke emotion).Catch your mind in the act of attention. Make note of it. A moment of arrested attention.The abstracts which you feel looking at the rose petal crushed into the cobble is more important. Don’t look for meaning. Record what you notice. When you write you find your feelings. Don’t write to express your feelings.

“If I had a camera to protect myself from the experience…” get out from behind the camera.

Something, an image, which has meaning ruins the poem, makes it cliché. Don’t paint the perfect picture full of meaning. Just write what you see. Let the reader ascribve meaning.

[Poetry is (?)] emotion recollected in tranquility. Maintain negative capability – don’t judge, it is your job just to receive [the image].

Poetry and prose: the difference is line breaks. Prose proceeds, verse reverses.

Suggested reading: The Rattlebag, an anthropology.

My Sketch:

Leather soles on the marble stairs
The souls softer by the dust and
Grit of the cobbled streets
Ridges

Slapping of flops and flipping
Staccato

Jun 23, 2007 - Nibbles    No Comments

Lucifero’s Heaven

It was so hard to get up this morning… We hurried to S. Pietro’s Basilica, and my eye was twitching with tiredness. Our pitch was “crawling dot” a practice in negative capability in scale.

Lauren and I roamed the church together. It was packed with tourists and it was just uninspiring this time. It was difficult to try to even approach the Pieta, and that’s about all that I wanted to really see. Still we circled, choir in the background as Mass ensued. We dropped down to the catacombs, and then called it good at about noon.

On the way to the church Mindy had been acosted by a scooter guy. He didn’t get anything but she kicked at him as she fell to the ground skinning and bloodying both knees. We all walked back to the Campo together. I spent the afternoon in my room working and trying to catch up.

Laurie and I seemed to be clicking again (I feel like to some extent I had been causing a distance in my wandering and such) and made plans for dinner together. We finally ventured to Lilo’s restaurant “Lucifero’s” (at S. Margherita and the via parallel to Pellegrino) at 23.00 or so. Finished after midnight, to join the rest of the crowd at the Campo. Most had 40’s in hand, and we headed again to the Tibre.

I walked with Lisa back, sharing stories and woes. To bed at 4am, always shy of a full nights sleep.

Jun 22, 2007 - Nibbles    No Comments

Whoso would be a man must be a nonconformist.

Up early to head to the Campidoglio. It was Laurie’s day to present, and she was the first presentation of the class. I feel in love with Hercules, the Statna di Venus Esquiline and a relief with Eros. I pretty much wandered alone, and had a long conversation with Rick which helped me to better understand Kevin’s input that I lack imagery.

In light of the previous evening’s events, I chose to dine alone with Hibbert’s Rome, and my research on Raffaello. I ate at the little pizzeria that Kevin had recommended, Baffetto 2. It was yummy. For some reason the quarter of wine washed through me with more intensity than usual.

After dropping my things of at the apartment I ventured over to Piazza Pigna to the “girls” apartment for dessert. It was a nice round table of program participants and they were cycling around the room with introductions and a quip about their names. It was a clever way to remember folks.

I was meeting up with Kelsey for drinks at 23.00 back at the Campo. I found her smoking with Nicholas, and we then ran into Lauren who had been venturing the city the entire evening. We all went to Nicholas’ place and picked up a bottle of wine to drink at the fountain. The piazza was tiny and we were the only tourists, let alone Americans. I felt like I was in good company.

On the way home, Mariano wanted us to stay when we passed the cafe, but, well, getting up in the morning was to be of certain difficulty.

Pitch:

Diptych (Contour drawings on one side, poems on the other)

My Sketch:

Down the hall
and to the right
Round the corner
and stand in awe

His ass
Is there any other word?—Forgive me mother!
His ass
Round, erect, firm
Mass of muscle implying strength
Beyond mortal imagination
Heavy legs, but not with wasted flesh
Thick in muscle
Legs with which to perch that ass.

Jun 21, 2007 - Nibbles    No Comments

Tests of Self Reliance

So Laurie and I went to dinner with Tom, Mindy, Lauren at a place just off Piazza Navona. I normally prefer some a little less touristy (read: better food, and not a rip off), but we were all hungry and we wanted to stay close. (Laurie got bit by something and her leg wasn’t feeling so hot.)

Lauren and I just made an executive decision on which restaurant chosing the one which had an open table seemingly set just for us. After getting seated I suggested that we order salad (caprese) for the table since we were so famished. The idea went around and collectively no decision was made. The waiter approached and suggested salad and bruschetta for the table, and with a tired nod Tom conceeded. I concurred, that was the basic idea I had had as well… just couldn’t get anyone to speak up. Mindy also chose the house vino rosso, commenting on how good the house wine in Italy is, and so cheap!

A while later the antipasto arrived, and commentary began on how much it might be. We ended up with a indivdual plate with a slice of bruschetta each, a plate of procisutto, and two plates of caprese. I estimated about 8 euro per plate (counting the bruschetta as two). Discussion ensued about whether or not plates could be sent back, and anxiety began to build around the table. Finally Lauren suggested—wisely, a woman after my own heart—that we try to relax as it isn’t worth ruining the meal over.

Our plates arrived, and I have to say that mine was really quite good. I believe we also had two bottles of wine, and as much water. Then the bill came, and the table was in an uproar. There was an arguement with the waiter regarding how much the antipasto was (he had originally said about €4-5 each while it turned out to be €30 for 5 people) and the price of the wine (Mindy had assumed a price of €3-5 per bottle). The waiter responded that we had eaten the antipasto plates without complaint, and voices raised cacophonously around the table. I took over, calming the table, and informed the waiter politely that there was simply a misunderstanding about the anitpasto plates, that we had ordered based on the price he quoted, and that it came back being a euro more per person than the highest price. With a great show, he relented and said that we were taking the money from his own pocket, but that he would adjust the price. Next people started trying to split the check up, saying that they wanted to pay exact change and they didn’t want to wait which was frankly ridiculous as we all had €20 bills. I collected that together, Mindy being short (I need to remind her that she owes) and figured out close to exact change so we could leave. As the table scurried from the patio the waiter followed and came to me. He had thought we had left him shorted, but found when counting the money out that actually it was exact change.

Personally I was miserable while I (believe) that I hid it. There was no table charge, and while many Italians never tip I feel with as much discord we caused in what was previously a charming corner of happy diners that he might have been thanked. We left in our wake the stench of American tourists, proudly living up to all that is expected of us.

Here I will remind myself that I am privleged in having had the opportunity to travel and immerse myself in culture.

Then we picked up the guys who had just gotten gelato, and we all decide to wander (that sounded like a good idea to me, very unintrusive). Lucas needed a restroom, so Mindy yelled from the back of our wandering band of American gypsies that we should find a bar. Leading the gaggle I located a bar. The group crowded before the entrance standing somewhat uncertain and undecided and unaware while Lucas went in. I asked were we not finding a bar so we could share time together, and if so should we go in (or at least clear a path for other patrons)? The group gathered in the small bar and we signalled business for an otherwise empty inside. I ordered a gin & tonic. The waitress patiently waited while the group tried to make a collective decision on what they might order. Folks considered getting a beer, then Mindy suggested a bottle of house wine; she began considering the prices and then decided that they weren’t a great value and changed her mind now trying to find a mixed drinks and leaving others to fend for themselves. This all seemed an eternity to me.

Walking back to the Campo, the girls alone, we stood at a corner where each pointed in a different direction. I sighed and said that I was going to “go my own way” and walked off. Laurie stuttered in the middle of the intersection, “Angela, don’t leave us.” I felt remorse, but merrily (or so I hoped) waved as I walked off.

Minutes later I felt truly terrible. I knew Laurie, if not the others, realized that I was upset. I quickly returned to the room, and she joined me for a drink on the Campo. I confessed my anxiety arisen from the evening’s events, and with sweet liquor as my elixir, I let go.

I think I’m going to write in my book now.