Sunday, January 24, 2016

Quartiere Coppede

Well, I sure did enjoy the freedom of not blogging there for a bit, but all week I've been itching to get out there and explore. I didn't end up having to go far either. The Quartiere Coppede is actually near my apartment and it's quite the little architectural hidden gem.

In fact, the name is a bit misleading, I thought a quartiere would be bigger, like a quarter of the city big. (A reasonable assumption, no?) in fact it's mostly one quirky little piazza and the streets radiating from it - one block in each direction. I'll skip the historical background, which you can read more of if you're interested here or here. Instead let me just throw a bunch of pictures at you like always!

First, the center of it all, the Frog Fountain. 

Can't see the frogs? Neither could I. I actually had to get right up to the fountain and search a bit. (Now that I write this I'm noticing that there are frogs on top of the fountain as well, but us short people can't be expected to notice stuff that high off the ground...) Turns out they're a little the worse for wear but still vaguely recognizable if you know what you're looking at. 

See it now?

Frogs aren't the only animals on display. You can also find plenty of lions...





And even more bees...

Can you spot them?

Seriously, there's a weird conspiracy going on with bees. If you don't believe me check out my post on Milan and Expo.

All of these intricate architectural details of course have to actually be attached to something. In this case that something is a group of 5-10 gorgeously maintained buildings covered from foundation to roof in decorations, religious scenes, and probably symbolic animal motifs. My big favorites were this one:

And the one that forms an unofficial entrance to the quartiere:

Talk about creativity!

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Rome, Everyday (30)

Phew! 30 days, more or less. ;)

I've been crazy tired this week - a combination of the first full week of real work since the holidays, some drama in my personal life and a couple big visits.  Someone the other day asked what my plans were for Friday night. My answer - going straight home and collapsing in bed. Or maybe just somewhere near the bed.

This weekend promises to be just as busy as the work week so it's a very good thing I'll have Monday to recover. And maybe there'll be enough time for a quick walking tour. There's a neighborhood nearby that I've been itching to explore.  Here's a sneak peak.

Stay tuned for my next update...whenever I feel like it! 

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Rome, Everyday (29)

No picture for this one, but please check out this link. As a USG employee of course I can't comment on this gentleman's political views, but I wanted to post this article because it represents a facet of life in Italy that's just as present as the pasta, pizza and pastries so many people enjoy, but much less widely discussed. In fact, living here - and even studying the language with Italians back in DC - showed me that Italy can at times be a very conservative place, even in the midst of a continent that is often considered liberal by American standards. I'm sure this is no great revelation to some people, but every once in a while it really does surprise me.

And of course it's worth remembering that as in the U.S. there are some politicians that tend to be a bit more controversial than others.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Rome, Everyday (28)

Just like in Lagos I've been happy to discover the services available here - while the set-up isn't quite the same, the price was actually pretty comparable. I paid 5 euros to put these shoes back together and only waited a day (plus the month in which I completely forgot the shoes and abandoned them at the cobbler's of course). Sadly, tailoring hasn't been quite so cheap, but they sure are good at it!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Rome, Everyday (27)

Now that the weather is getting downright chilly I thought we could all use something sunny to look at.  I saw this article a few months ago and thought it said a lot about Italian culture - particularly beach culture.  For a country that often feels chaotic they really are organized about their vacationing.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Rome, Everyday (26)

Saldi, saldi, saldi... It's one of two sales seasons of the year in Rome (the other being in August) and stuff is now almost as affordable as it is every day of the year n America ;). I bought some work shirts to replace the ones I ruined a few weeks ago with some creative laundry practices.

All the shop windows got me thinking though - how on earth do you enforce a sales season? Is someone going around the rest of the year telling retailers to jack up their prices or else? Is it really better for the economy than just letting stores do their own thing? Someone should write a cable....

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Rome, Everyday (25)

Things that are hilariously American-ish in Rome.

1) Cheese. Burger

2) 'American' bread - i.e. White sandwich bread sold with the crusts already cut off (and sometimes in weird bread planks)

Picture from here

3) McDonalds brand ketchup (is it weird that this product appears to only be available outside the US?)

Picture from here

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Rome, Everyday (24)

Have you ever heard that saying (which apparently isn't even true) that the Inuit have dozens of words for snow? The idea of course is that we develop more words to talk about the things we encounter more often. Makes sense, even if the whole snow story doesn't check out. The story they should tell is how many words the Italians have for pasta. The websites I've found list over 400 different shapes of pasta - from the strozzapreti (priest strangler) to a little version called the radiator (a shape not so familiar to those of us who are accustomed to central heating) and all that doesn't even include the many variations in ingredient, color, or preparation. The biggest treat is that you can buy fresh pasta at a number of stores in my neighborhood. I really intend to start taking advantage of this more often...

Below is the variety I tried for dinner tonight - mezzo ziti. Basically it's a tube that's as long as a piece of spaghetti but thinner than penne or ziti. It's a fun shape, but just impossible to manage - and I thought spaghetti was a mess! 

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Rome, Everyday (23)

So... La Befana. It's this whole big thing here.

To make a long story short, La Befana is like Santa, only she's a witch and she gives candy, not presents (specifically Kinder brand chocolate, if my local grocery store has anything to say about it). And she comes on Epiphany Eve, not Christmas Eve.

And as you may have guessed I'm bringing this up because today is Epiphany. (I'm not sure how to wish you a good one - Merry Epiphany? Happy Epiphany? ) ! I'll save that explanation for tomorrow though.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Rome, Everyday (22)

Whoops! Missed a day!

Guess I should call this blog Rome (almost) every day. All joking aside though, I have been inspired by the challenge to post something every day and I hope it will push me to write slightly more often once I finish.  Writing a sentence or two - or even posting a picture with no comment - gives you the freedom to record some of the small observations; even when they seem too trivial at the time, taken together they do paint a nice picture of life as a whole.

For today here's a picture of a nearby park where I sometimes go walking - in broad daylight with lots of people around. I (jokingly of course) think of it as 'serial killer park' as it can get a bit creepy in the less-traveled and rarely maintained parts. But there's also something beautiful about having a relatively wild space in the middle of a big city. And because this is Rome there are obviously going to be random crumbling ruins at every turn and that's fun too.

What do you think? Not so scary, right?

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Rome, Everyday (21)

^ A nice little museum that I visited today with a friend. We saw the exhibit on Toulouse-Latrec and now I feel incredibly cultured ... and also very inspired to rewatch Moulin Rouge. All in all it was another great weekend in Rome, though after four days at home (it's flu season!) I think I'm ready to get back into the swing of things.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Friday, January 1, 2016

Rome, Everyday (19)

So... New Years in Rome was completely insane. It was almost an hour of uninterrupted fireworks, though there were intermittent bursts all afternoon. At first I thought it was thunder, then I kind of started to suspect Rome was being invaded, and finally I just realized that I am surrounded by a people that takes celebrating very, very seriously. 

No picture, unfortunately, but there's always next year!

Buon anno nuovo!