Thought of the Day

I don't believe in morality, but I believe in ethical conduct as set out by His Holiness the Dalai Lama: "Ethical conduct = a way of behaving that respects others’ right to be happy".

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

the many faces of rome

Cultural Rome -- G. and I travelled to La Sapienza University where Mao was graduating in chemistry after 13 years of perseverance. He was smart and radiant in his 70s suit and moustache. His presentation was breathtaking, and he defended his thesis very well from the professors' acid remarks.

Historical Rome -- V. and I visited the Catacomb of San Sebastian on Appia Antica. We had a guided tour and learnt that it is the only complex with both a pagan and Christian backgrounds. The same day, we also visited a war memorial, grim and moving: the apartment-turned-prison in via Tasso where Nazis imprisoned Partisans the year before liberation. There were touching messages engraved on the walls, newspapers' extracts and portraits of the various heroes and victims. We noticed how patriotic people used to be back then –- which is admirable and two-faced at the same time.

Culinary Rome -- For dinner V., A. and I went to a Jewish restaurant in the ghetto. I dared to try carciofi alla giudia (Jew artichokes) and coda alla vaccinara (cow tail)! It was the first time I savoured Roman/Jewish food and found it delicious and extremely delicate, despite the gross idea of eating tail.

Artistic Rome -- I finally enlivened my artistic dream of admiring Apollo & Daphne and The Rape of Proserpina at Galleria Borghese. The white marble of their skin, their deep facial expressions and the care of the details (Pluto’s hand sinking into Proserpine’s tight, Apollo’s defined muscles and veins and Daphne’s drapes) made me blush.

Apollo & Daphne, Bernini

Pluto &Proserpina, Bernini

Convivial Rome -- After a fat lunch based on tonnarelli cacio e pepe (hand-made pasta with Roman pecorino cheese and pepper) and a failed attempt to visit the not-Catholic cemetery (also known as the English cemetery) where Shelley and Keats rest amongst other less romantic characters, A., U., Mao and I explored la Garbatella, historically working class suburb of Rome, which has become today a fashionable spot to live. Its colourful council blocks, built in an elaborated style under Vittorio Emanuele’s directions, were an oasis of peace. At the nearby Teatro Palladio there was an experimental performance festival which I could not miss. Weird and histerical dance movements and moments of meaningful stillness followed one after the other.

Domestic Rome -- Sunday was spent mostly at home with mum, dad, uncle, aunt, cousins... Dad entertained us with his new passion: cinema. He spends a great deal recording and watching films and has also deviced an home-made technique to add extras to DVDs: he downloads film information from the internet (synopsis, cast info, historical background, meaning of the title, etc.) and … here everything becomes weird … he points his camera to the computer and films the screen, then he transfers it onto the tape and finally onto the DVD. He explained this process so proudly that we did not dare to say that there is actually an easier way of doing it...

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