Buongiorno, ragazzi!

Much has happened since last week's installment. Let me start with Italian classes. As you probably guessed, despite the bravado, I was definitely feeling a bit out of my element when I first arrived here. Kept that bottom lip from quivering, however, and told myself, hey, once you start your Italian classes you will feel a lot better and you'll be meeting some great people who will share your love of the traveling life, etc.

Okay. So imagine the following scene. I walk over to the Via dei Due Macelli and trot up the stairs to attend my orientation. The door to the classroom is closed. I take a deep breath. I mean, hey, my future amore could be lurking just beyond, vero? Slowly, I turn the handle. And there I see.....four nuns and a priest. No kidding. I try to keep my chin from hitting the floor. Hey, I'm open minded and I have nothing against members of the clergy. BUT. I cannot imagine saying, for example, hey, Sister Mary Ignatius, wanna hit the happy hour by that cafe near the Pantheon?

As it turns out, all five of those students are in a special class for members of the clergy working at the Vatican.

My class comprises five very adorable young things from a prestigious east coast American university. The kids think of me as their cool aunt. One of them, a particularly fresh faced young thing majoring in psychology and boyfriends, said to me the other day, "Forty-five isn't old. I mean, you're younger than my parents." Cute, huh?

Class is terrifically fun. I'm loving it. I see progress on a daily basis, which is incredibly exciting, and I find I am now rolling my r's in a MOST annoying fashion.

The other big news of the week is a change of address. I decided that rustic is not me. As my dear friend Kristin says, I am the authoress of the world's shortest book: Dumps I Have Stayed In...I managed to find a most remarkable flat in the Campo de' Fiori section of Rome (same neighborhood as before). The building, featuring 13th Century frescoes in the lobby, has a lift (incredible!) and the flat has views over the Campo. I can see Raphael's church from my living room window. It is a stupendous sight. The bedroom has the original 13th Century ceiling, which is amazing. It is light and airy and truly a find. The landlord and landlady are fantastic; he's a musician and she's an artist, and they lived in this flat until just three years ago when their daughter was born. I feel very, very lucky.

I left the infamous shower curtain for the next tenant, by the way.

Let's see. What else? I have now begun a full-fledged, intensive study of Roman history. I am doing a weekly walk (private) with a trained Italian historian. We start with Romulus, who founded Rome and will work our way through Big Julie C, straight through to Trajan and the end of the Empire. Then we’ll hit Constantine, worm our way through the Ages and, oh, sometime in early summer, find ourselves in the middle of the Renaissance. Bernini. Michaelangelo. Peruzzi. Titian. Botticelli. Raphael. It raises the hair on my arms just thinking about it.

I am in heaven, learning so much and discovering treasures like Vitruvius' writings on the principles of architecture and Vasari’s Lives of the Artists. I recently read about a former colleague who has published a book on the dynamics of team work within a management consulting framework and I thought, My God, who READS that stuff? Truth is, I used to. But now I’m forty five and I’m living my dolce vita. Bring on the artists! Oh, for a muse of fire! Et cetera, et cetera.

Are there still some difficult moments? Of course! Learning about the oddities of Italian life, discovering that the rest of the world does NOT believe in hurrying, attempting to deal with or at least keep a sense of humour about bureaucracy and accepting that some people --- aka ALL Italian women --- are born with 30-inch hips and that designers, as a result, do not make clothes to fit people from, say, America....all of this is part of the experience, no?

That's it for this installment. Stay tuned. Next week I have to get through a visit from the plumber, who is coming to do the annual heating system check-up. I am assured he speaks perfect English....

x A.


© Copyright Amy Selwyn 2004