the day-by-day play-by-play of our expatriation to Rome

sexting latin

following in the wake of [& inversely proportional to] the last post here are the chronicles of our first fortnight expatriating ourselves to Rome:

5|18|10: UK flights were cancelled the day before by ash from Eyjafjallajökull so we were a bit anxious about even getting off the ground | chomping at the bit after sitting for a week in our empty apartment | may as well sit & wait at the airport if we were going to sit & wait | humped our 30+ kg duffle bag up the hill from the DUMBO waterfront to the subway & took the A to Rockaway then the air train to JFK | our flight left on time but as our luck would have it we got stuck in front of a typically obnoxious & stupid American couple that talked the whole way louder than they needed to just because they wanted everyone on the plane to hear what they were talking about [gossip magazine shit & other things that only demonstrated how dumb they were] | at one point the guy [chubby bearded hipster] was saying he didn't even know Dublin existed before this flight  & was telling his girlfriend that Lisbon was in Spain | every time i would start to fall asleep he kept kicking & punching my seat so i turned & around & said something & they got all defensive & told me to ask nicely & i refrained from punching the guy in the face only because it might interfere with our expatriation plans | i read 50 or so pages of The Last Days by Raymond Queneau but wasn't into it too much so i started to read Last Exit to Brooklyn by Hubert Selby, Jr. [appropriately enough since our going away party two nights before was at the Last Exit bar in Brooklyn] | landed in Dublin & the annoying American couple followed us like lost puppy dogs through all the lines through immigration & security & then we checked the monitors & it said our plane to Rome was cancelled | checked 2 other monitors & they all said the same | as our luck would have it the obnoxious American couple were also on the Rome flight [like the embodiment of everything i hated about America wouldn't let us leave it in peace] | they followed in our footsteps as we asked around trying to figure out what to do but also tried to shake these lingering vestiges from our existence | we were told to leave the terminal [no agents at gate] so we did & when we got to Aer Lingus customer service they said the flight wasn't cancelled but that it was just a mistake on the monitors | ugghh | the lines back through security were insanely long—longer than i've ever seen a security line—snaking back & forth endlessly | but we made it through & it ended up our flight was delayed an hour anyway | sat next to some snoring Irish thug with dark glasses on the next leg | what a feeling landing in Rome! | i've only been to Rome in November [3 times] so it was weird to be there in May | the weather was beautiful & everything smelled fecund | & our big duffel even made it | got a taxi to the San Anselmo hotel up on Aventino hill which is a lofty oasis in the center of Rome | we have a room overlooking a benedict monastery & the air is full of the smell of star jasmine & chirping birds & monks chanting | we went & got a bite to eat [stuffed olives & zucchini flowers & pizza] then i went into a mobile shop & got a SIM card for my blackberry which i had unlocked before i left [thankfully as they cost a few hundred euros here] | some things like this are really easy here | 10 euros gets you a SIM card & a number & a plan where you pay as you go | you don't get locked into some expensive contract like the way Americans do things | not that i can't live without a cellphone but we need it for apartment hunting & whatnot | then we came back & resisted sleeping & had wine & antipasto & calamari risotto at the hotel then fell asleep at 10:30 or so [pineal glands are not too messed up] ||

Joyce text display in Dublin airport

joyce text in dublin aer lingus


going to Rome to die

dying in rome


our over-the-top baroque meets industrial [metal walls] bed at S. Anselmo

fellinesque bed Aventino

5|19: slept like a baby in our quiet hotel [no trains running all night out our window like back in Brooklyn] | woke up with the sun & went for a run around circus maximus | crazy to run amidst all this ruin & to think they used to run chariot races here in the day | got the train out to Maccarese to where j is going to work [at Bioversity] | she checked in with her work people & did administrative stuff & we got some advice on how to do this & that [all very bureaucratic & at times circular [i.e. we need something called a «codice fiscale» [their equivalent of a social security number] to get a bank account & an apartment but in order to get a codice fiscale & a bank account you need an address] | we took the train back & ate at Trattoria Enzo [*****] in Trastevere which was amazing [as it was our last trip here when we discovered it] | finished reading Last Exit to Brooklyn which i had started to read on the airplane | it kept me entertained—not sure why Kerouac gets so much attention as Selby is better | & it was apt for my last book read starting at least in American airspace ||

some Roman dude [forget which] lounging on the she-wolf nursemaid of Remus & Romulus & admiring his uh cornucopia

Romulus dude jacking it


some building i forget which

building facade

5|20: looked at apartments with an eccentric Slovenian broker [Judita][whose fantastic if you are need of a broker in Rome which is very useful to have as she does far more than just find a place] that rode around on a Vespa while we navigated by bus or walking | she showed us some places in Monteverde Vecchio one of which was mind-blowing it had such a huge terrace with this amazing view of Rome but it's in this hilly area kind of outside of the city center not in walking distance of much & besides the terrace the apartment wasn't so good | then we saw 2 funky places in Trastevere on via Titta Scarpetta that were beyond words & seemed almost too good to be true [she had sent us photos of the place when we were back in NYC & we didn't want to get excited about it until we saw it with our own eyes & here it was] | one a garden floor 2-level apartment & another next door that spanned 3 floors & had unusual built in woodwork that felt like the inside of a Swedish vampire ship & a sunny terrace up top | then we walked around the centro historico & had vongole at La Moreta near piazza Farnesse [***] ||

mail slot of via Scarpetta 28 [our prospective new home]

mail slit


horse & text [wall of Ara Pacis]

horse text


buildings in historic center

rome architecture


Portico d'Ottavia

Portico d'Ottavia

5|21: woke up & went for a long run along the Tiber which is muddy & brimming to overflowing it's banks [flooding the running path] | j told Judita we wanted the apartment we looked at the day before on via Scarpetta | then we went to FAO to try to do things like open a bank account but of course they needed this codice fiscal but we talked another bank into «sort of» opening an account & put €50 in it | then we went out with another broker who was this really annoying & neurotic German woman that showed us some crappy places in Testaccio & more in Monteverde that only reconfirmed our feelings about how cool Judita was & how cool the Trastevere place was & that it was a pretty good deal [€1800 Euros which is not bad considering we saw a lot of crappy apartments for a lot more] | then j got a call from Judita & the landlady renting the apartment decided to raise the rent to €2200 because she'd done some work on it | the wind was sort of blown out of sails hearing that & we got sort of depressed & went to eat 1/2-ass Mexican food at Mexico all'Aventino [**] [reassuring to at least find «messicano» food in Rome & the green salsa wasn't so bad] ||

standing outside FAO

outside FAO


**star jasmine field [origin of abundant smell]**

star jasmine field


arch of light [behind Trajan marketplace]

arched light del grillo

5|22: went & saw some place in Trastevere that i saw on craigslist that wasn't so far from the other place we wanted [via Salumi] | this one was a large one bedroom with a huge rooftop terrace that was in great condition | the owner was this crazy old guy with a potty mouth that liked Bush & Berlusconi & tried to engage us in heated debate about the necessity of war | the apartment was pretty cool though [not as funky but far more functional than the one on via Scarpetta] so now we were in a predicament | then we met Chiara Barzini & some others [writer-types] near Piazza Farnese | Chiara had contacted me before i left NYC about interviewing me for some magazine article she was doing on American small presses | we kept missing each other [coincidentally she lives out near Maccarese near j's work so we wanted to talk to her about housing out there] & the next day she was off to interview a guy in London who thought he was descended from dragons so it was at least good to meet her briefly | then we went to check out the Monteverde area again before we wrote it off & decided indeed we needed to just concentrate on Trastevere [the only drawback being it's not as convenient for j's commute otherwise it's got our names all over it] | ate at Giggetto 2 [**] which sucked but is in a cool outside nook in the Jewish Ghetto looking at the back of Portico d'Ottavia | then we came home & watched InterMilan celebrating winning the European Champions League ||

traffic circle

Rome traffic circle


Trajan marketplace

trajan market hemisphere


artichokes in Jewish Ghetto

cobbled artichokes

5|23: Sunday—day of chilling | went to Gino ai Funari [****] for lunch & had osso buco whose bone marrow melted in my mouth—great family run place | came back & did some Italian Rosetta Stoning & read some dual language stories including a good one by Primo Levi | we heard from Judita & the owner of the apartment was willing to let us take it for €2000 so we said yeah because it was our favorite place & still seemingly a good deal even if it was more than the advertised price | went to eat dinner at Vincenzo alla Lungaretta in Trastevere [**] | when we 1st came to Rome some 10 years ago this was one of the 1st places we ate & i remember being impressed | now it seemed mediocre in comparison [i had risotto which tasted no better than rice-a-roni out of a box] | but like a lot of Roman restaurants it might depend on what you order [pizza seems to be the specialty here] ||

poppies at the base of piramide

poppies at base of pyramid


graffiti outside S. Sabina

graffiti san sabina


inscription inside S. Sabina

gravis Felice

5|24: went & saw the 3-tiered Swedish vampire ship on via Scarpetta again & got the contract which j sent to her work folks to review to make sure all was kosher [it was in Italian & there were many strange stipulations which were foreign to us] | Metroed across town out by the Spanish steps to see some other people about housing [got to keep looking in case things fall through which is to be expected] | zig-zagged back after pizza on the street | went back out to dinner in Testaccio at La Fruschetta de Mastro Giorgo [[****] which was delicious [the cheeses being most memorable] ||

lost dog in alley

rione xxx dog

5|25: ran around Circo Massimo then dropped off our dirty laundry while j dealt with business at FAO | still no definite word on anything | i'm chronicling these events like everything is falling into place but it's not as easy as it sounds & there are still a lot of unknowns & we seem to be waiting on everyone to get back to us | walked around the forum & coliseum then had gnocchi with cheese at Bottega del caffe [***] which we'd also been to before on a previous trip | then we walked through the hip Monti area & ended up at the Trajan Market museum [Mercato di Traiano/Museo dei Fori Imperiali] where we saw an exhibit of William Klein's photographs from when he hung out in Rome with the likes of Fellini | the new Trajan museum is awesome & no one seems to know about it yet | they did a great job of integrating the ruins of the Trajan marketplace with the gallery spaces & there's lots of little nooks & crannies to explore without feeling like you are being «guided» along | had dinner at Trattoria Scopettaro [****] in Testaccio | i had cacio e pepe & a fried chili dish which although not spicy was really tasty ||

fried chilies at Scopettaro

italian chilis


William Klein [girl on beach near Maccarese]

William Klein sandy babe

5|26: explored around the hilltop of Aventino where our hotel is | our hotel [San Anselmo] used to be the villa of the Italian writer Cristina Campo & is across the street from a large benedict church where the seagulls like to roost & down the street is the compound that houses the secretive knights of Malta | if you look through the keyhole into their compound the dome of St. Peters is perfectly aligned in the distance | there is a military presence at all times wielding machine guns | further down along the road is the Chiesa d. S. Anselmo which is more of functional monastery with all sort of aspiring priests [many African] filing in & out | further along is the chiesa dei Santi Bonifacio e Alessio which holds a lot of weddings & the remains of a wood staircase [that St. Alexis slept & died under] & some fine mosaic columns in the rear altar | further along yet is chiesa Santa Sabina—one of my favorites in Rome | a lot of the textual inscriptions from the rubbings i made back in December were lifted from this church | just like last time we had the place all to ourselves [if you go early in the morning] | between the churches are a few nice parks filled with orange trees & beyond that is a steep cobblestone alley we take to get into town [i.e. restaurants] | we ate in Testaccio & took the train to Maccarese so j could get a check we could cash so we could put down a deposit on the apartment | thing is now Judita couldn't get a hold of the owner of the apartment who was in Turin or something & so we had deposit money but nothing to deposit it on & j especially was not sleeping easy as she only had 1 more day before she started work [& the contract was in her name] | trained back & got off at Trastevere & walked the whole riverfront then over towards Campo d'Fiori & got oysters & proseco at some bar then went to Ditirambo [****][a slow food kind of place that we've been to before & loved] & i had fiori di zucca appetizer & Testarolli alla Lungiana [special flat noodles made of wheat] with Genovese pesto ||

mosaic columns in S. Alessio

mosaic columns Allesio


skeletal model of S. Alessio within S. Alessio

skeleton of Alessio


up on Palatine hill


5|27: went to FAO to cash the check [shocked that it actually worked] | then we went to the Palatino [the hill above the forum] as that's the one main Rome attraction we haven't seen & we just wanted to get our mind off finding a place to live | the Palatine hill was nothing compared to the forum [which we walked through again trying to find our way back] | sat down to lunch at Vivando [***] in the Jewish Ghetto & then our agent Judita called saying she finally got a hold of the owner & she wanted to meet to sign the contract | so we quickly ate & went back up to our hotel to get the deposit money then went to meet our new landlord & sign the lease | our landlady is 84 years old but is fit & has all her senses | some haggling went on not with us but between the broker & owner about renewal stipulations [Italian law says you can't raise the rent for 8 years & our landlady wanted the option to raise it after 3 but our broker was telling her it's illegal] & everyone argues here it's just how they communicate | we of course didn't care—we've never even spent 3 years in one place | finally a verbal agreement was reached & we all signed & gave our deposit & that was that! | after that we went to j's colleagues apartment just around the corner overlooking the Tiber | i talked to her husband who was showing me their art collection & showing me all these books [i think i mentioned them before—they are the ones who have all this fantastic art & books by Rachid Koraïchi | then we went to have a celebratory dinner at Spirito Di Vino [*****] which is a really good family-run place [mother cooking father waiting tables & the son is the wine steward/comic relief] | j had pork shoulder soaked for days in wine which was pretty intense | we had a Barbera d'Alba from their wine cellar that dated back to B.C. times ||

text on wall in S. Sabina

hysterical reading


text along Tiber

i amo arch


what i read while running along the Tiber


Rome runners

Rome Runners


pull-up rings [for cross-training days]

Tiber graffiti

5|28: walked j to the train station to go to her first day of work | then went running around circo massimo | picked up our laundry [expensive as hell to have your clothes washed here & they do a shitty job] | went through my photos & did some Rosetta stoning | i've embarked on The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon | i'm reading the [Penguin] abridged version but it is still some 800 pages | fascinating stuff—not just in terms of learning about the history of our newfound home but in light of the current collapse going on in America | i'll comment more when i'm finished | met j after work & we went to the non-Catholic cemetery where Keats is buried but it was closed so we wandered through some street fair in Testaccio & ended up eating at La Villetta [*] because we were hungry & only tourist restaurants open before 8 here ||

B.C. wine cellar

wine cellar di vino


the Forum as seen from Palatine hill

Forum as scene from Palatino


Hera Borghese [in Palatine museum]
[they might not have figured out how to sculpt pubic hair but they sure nailed wet cloth draped on nudes]

hera borghese wet shirt


Nymphaeum of Rain [Palatine]

rain nymph

5|29: last day up on Aventino hill | not sure what we had planned to do but as we were hanging out after breakfast we got an email from Judita saying we could move in a day earlier [today] if we wanted | we went & got lunch in Testaccio & went to some sort of art fair in Testaccio in anticipation of the opening of Macro but it wasn't open yet so we wandered around & found ourselves in some farmer's market that was housed in the old slaughterhouse in Testaccio | in the evening we met our new landlady & Judita & handed over the cash & we got the keys [long skeletal ones even] | hung around on the patio of the empty place imagining our lives there then had dinner at Pizzeria Ponentino[**] [i had pasta e ceci which was sort of bland] ||

stenciled cameraman code in Testaccio

codec cameraman


say do think [Testaccio]

think say do


artwork by Giovanni Antoci in Trastevere restaurant with retractable roof

Giovanni Antoci


rusty wall [Testaccio]

rusted wall in Testaccio


hay carts near old slaughterhouse in Testaccio

hay carts Testaccio


cubist graffiti [along Tiber]

tiber graffiti


Picasso billboard  on side of refrigerator plant [Testaccio]

Picasso refrigerator


graffiti in Testaccio

testaccio graffiti

5|30: woke up & paid our hotel bill & lugged our duffel down Aventino to our new home | went to the Porta Portese flea market in Trastevere which has to be the coolest flea market in the world | got some temporary essentials until our stuff gets here [in another 3 weeks] like things to eat & drink with & a blanket [still nippy in the evenings] | then took the metro to the very end of the line & caught a bus out to Ikea | good thing we went to the Ikea in Brooklyn once before coming here as even in English the ritual of Ikea is strange & foreign to us | we got a foldout couch & a small table for our patio just so we have something to sleep & sit on until our furniture comes [having it delivered of course as well as a little antique desk we found at Porta Portese for j] | came home & wanted to do some shopping but everything was closed [sunday] so we ended up eating around the corner at a place called Cornucopia [***] which wasn't so bad [i had gnocchi quattro formaggi & j had vongole] | & now it's time for our first night sleeping in our new place on via Scarpetta 28 ||

stairs leading down from the riverbank to via Scarpetta

graffiti Trastevere


Ostiense intersection

x-section Ostiense

5|31: first morning waking up in our new home [slept in the middle of the living room under the skylight] | none of the utilities are hooked up [except water & electricity which we are stealing via an extension cord from our neighbors] | trying to arrange for all of that | had a coffee with j [no gas to boil water for coffee] then she was off to WFP for a meeting | i went back & waited 1st for the tattooed IKEA thugs to show up & drop off our fold-out couch & patio furniture | then waited for the guy from Porta Portese to show up & drop off j's desk | you can't really bring a truck up our street it's so small so not sure what the moving guys are going to do | then i went to try to figure out where to get essentials { soaps | towels | adapters | laundry lines | brushes| cleaners | toilet paper | bags | light bulbs | etc. } but most importantly went to the nursery & got a lemon tree which has always been j's dream | lugged 3 bags of potting soil back too in my backpack [1 km] then went back for more soil & an aloe & seeds & a big pot for the lemon tree | tilled & mixed some soil & planted a bunch of stuff { jalapeños | strawberries | tomatoes | basil } then j came home & we had white wine that our neighbors poured us from out their window facing our patio | all our neighbors are friendly & helpful older Italians that seem to have been here forever | had dinner at Enzo again which is amazing enough that we should just make a standing reservation there ||

distressed map of Trastevere
[the comma in the (i, j) is the location of j & i's new digs]

Trastever map

6|1: had a cappuccino with j then she was off to FAO this time [first 2 official days for her & she hasn't even been into her office] | discovered a wifi hot spot emanating from Boca de Veritas [mouth of truth] so could flash that at least we were kicking | ran some more errands & got a grape vine & more dirt & planted { romaine lettuce | arugula | thai hot peppers | habaneros | cilantro | spicy greens mix } [all the pepper & cilantro seeds we got stateside in anticipation of having to grown our own] | went for a run north under 13 bridges to Ponte Matteotti [did i mention we live in the best place in Rome for running?] then took a cold shower | washed our clothes & hung a clothesline on our patio to dry them | j came home early from her FAO meeting & we wandered around buying towels & lotion & whatnot then ate at Hostaria Romanesco in Campo di Fiori [where we once got stuck in a massive rainstorm & i helped the waiters batten down the umbrellas like we were on a sailboat in a squall] ||

6|2: today is like Italy's 4th of July celebrating when they shed their fascist Monarchy ways & became a republic | not sure what they do besides have a big military parade but there are helicopters & planes looming overhead | i'm out on our new patio in the sun amidst our drying laundry & freshly planted soil [nothing emerging yet] | i won't post any photos of our apartment yet until we get our furniture & the plants start to grow | tomorrow at least our electricity & gas will be turned on [in theory] | until then we continue camping in our new home | who knows about phone/internet | going to the Boca de Veritas to see about posting this ...

outside of via Titta Scarpetta 28

via Titta Scarpetta 28




(copyright is a dinosaur) 2010 Derek White