Toronto in August

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1471999383257Apologies to my readers for this long silence. I have been back in Toronto since the beginning of August. The weather here is warm and sunny without being too hot and I have been enjoying seeing my family and friends. So much has happened that I can’t write about each thing individually so here are a few snapshots of things I’ve been doing.

First of all, I’m so happy to be back on my bike again. I bike everywhere but some of the best rides have been along the lake which has a bike path stretching for miles.

1472000505535The countryside in parts of Ontario is beautiful. There aren’t as many mosquitos and flies this year so walking in the woods has been a pleasure rather than a torture as it can be sometimes.

1472001503283I felt the need of some concentrated quiet time so I went on a meditation retreat at Sugar Ridge Retreat Centre put on by a group called the Consciousness Explorer’s Club, a group whose philosophy is ‘Meditate, Celebrate, Activate’. In short: meditate; enjoy/celebrate life; and do good in the world. A good way to live, I feel and something I think about more and more. Today, August 24th is exactly 6 months since Loris died, also on a Wednesday. The retreat made me consolidate my thoughts that there’s no point in dwelling on the past nor worrying about the future. Life brings us things beyond our control and all we can do is try and maintain our equilibrium and live as best as we can in the present.

1472001630696One of the things I’ve really enjoyed is spending time with children in the family. There is nothing more joyful than seeing a child laugh with delight or watch them seeing something for the first time.

1472001860728Summer in Toronto is a time when everybody spends time outdoors. Watching people playing baseball, soccer, and other games which only take place in the summer is fun.

1472002119975I love the fact that Toronto is on the lake. Catching sight of sailing regattas on the lake in the setting sun or seeing the moon rise over the lake is truly a pleasure. I was lucky to see a rainbow over the lake so I’m sharing that rare and beautiful sight above.

1472002309559We are lucky to have various events taking place in the public parks like ‘Dances at Dusk’ and ‘Shakespeare in the Park’. You pay a suggested minimal donation, or what you can, or nothing at all thanks to the hard work of dozens of volunteers.

1472002589602My only regret is that it is nearly the end of August. The evenings are getting cooler and those lazy, hazy days of summer will soon be at an end. It’s not finished yet though and I will continue to enjoy whatever comes my way and I hope you all will too.

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Open Doors

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Porta Santa, St. Peter's Basilica

Porta Santa, St. Peter’s Basilica

This is the Jubilee Year in Rome. The Porta Santa or Holy Door to the Papal basilicas, of which there are four in Rome including St. Peters, have been opened for pilgrims to walk through. These Holy Doors are normally sealed from the inside with mortar and cement and are only opened about every 25 years or so. Pope Boniface VIII in the year 1,300 started the tradition of the Holy Year or Jubilee. During the Jubilee year, pilgrims who walk through the door gain a Plenary Indulgence or in other words, less punishment for their sins in the next life.

Holy Door Detail with Nyah

Holy Door Detail with Nyah

Anyhow, my nephew and family were visiting me and though I don’t usually accompany first time visitors to Rome to see the major sites, I did go with them to St. Peter’s Basilica so that I could walk through the door. The Holy Door is a double door, opening in the middle. Each side consists of 8 panels which depict scenes from the Bible. They are magnificent and of course were polished to a gleaming lustre. To pass from the outside through the door into the Basilica represents leaving the world and entering into the presence of God in order to offer a sacrifice of atonement whether it be prayer or good works. I don’t think this was quite on my niece Nyah’s mind as she strolled through the door. I’m very glad I went but since I didn’t pray when I went in (hard to do in St. Peter’s with all the people milling about taking photos), I will have to come up with some good work to ensure a better chance of a place in heaven!

I also accompanied them to the Foro Romano which is another site I don’t normally go to with my guests.

Frescoes, Santa Maria Antiqua

Frescoes, Santa Maria Antiqua

The reason I went was because this year, the Basilica di Santa Maria Antiqua, the earliest Christian church in the Foro Romano built in the 6th cent. is open to the public for the first time in over 30 years. It houses a rare collection of early Christian art with amazing frescoes, mosaics and paintings, recently restored at an enormous cost and funded by the Italian State and the World Monuments Fund.

1469523756610This depiction of the Virgin Mary is one of the oldest known Christian icons in the world. The church is situated at the bottom of the Palatine hill where Rome’s emperors one lived and was buried under rubble following an earthquake in 847. It was only uncovered in 1900 and thus escaped the alterations which were carried out in other churches during the baroque or the Counter Reformation periods. Consequently, it has remained intact and has been referred to as the equivalent of the Sistine Chapel of the early Middle Ages. I would have liked to have spent a longer time there with less people about but felt lucky to have had this opportunity to see it since it will be closed again in September for further restoration work.

Roman Passageway to Palatine Hill

Roman Passageway to Palatine Hill

Another work in progress next to the church is the uncovering and restoration of a gigantic, covered ramp which led from the Forum to the top of the Palatine hill in Roman times. It is also truly magnificent in both scale and grandeur. As with all the Roman ruins, the marble and decorative elements lining the walls have been stripped but there are little bits and pieces which have been found and are on display so one can imagine what it must have looked like in its heyday. It is amazing to think that there are areas of the Foro Romano that are still waiting to be revealed and I’m looking forward to seeing what is uncovered next. There’s always something more to see in Rome!

 

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A Summer Delight

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Terme di Caracalla

Terme di Caracalla

I’m glad to be in Rome at this particular time as the summer opera season at the Terme di Caracalla has just begun. The venue is spectacular and to sit there outdoors watching opera is really something special. Verdi’s Nabucco was playing which I had never seen before and since I love one of the choruses (Va’ pensiero) I was very keen to go.

1468925574552I invited my friend Sister Rosemary to join me since she has finished her musical training in Rome and is heading back to the US. She was most excited as obviously, she doesn’t get to go to these events and especially not late at night (the opera started at 9pm). I brought a picnic dinner which we enjoyed in the grounds before the performance and to my happy surprise, Sr. Rosemary brought something to drink. I won’t say what but we were in good spirits after our al fresco supper!

1468925801860The opera Nabuco is one of Verdi’s earlier ones and is considered to have permanently established Verdi’s reputation as a composer. Incidentally, he was born and lived in a small village called Roncole not far from Loris’ hometown. His mother was a spinner and his father an innkeeper (Verdi’s, not Loris’!). Loris used to recount being taken as a child to see Verdi’s operas being performed in neighbouring outdoor venues and in Teatro Reggio, the Parma opera house. Audiences in Parma are apparently critical, unforgiving, and tough to please thinking nothing of voicing their disapproval with slurs and insults should an opera not come up to the mark or with cheers and whistles when it does.

Stage Set for Nabucco, Act 1

Stage Set for Nabucco, Act 1

The story of Nabucco is based on the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar’s capture of the Israelites and their exile from their homeland. The stage set was sparse and fitting for Caracalla. The music and singing of the Rome opera company were magnificent and when Va’ pensiero was sung, I almost cried. It’s the chorus of the Hebrew Slaves and expresses their longing for the promised land. Though sad, it is very beautiful. Legend has it that it was popular during and after the time of Italian unification as it represented the wish of the people for a united Italy which up until then was a collection of independent kingdoms.

1468925684496My only criticism of the Caracalla production was the use of modern costumes. The cast looked like they had just arrived from fighting in Syria with even the women wearing combat gear. Yes, maybe I’m old fashioned but I would have preferred to see the cast wearing some flowing robes. Apparently, its cheaper to use modern costumes which might explain this choice. Hard to see the costumes in this photo as photography is not permitted during the performance and I only got a quick shot at the end during the applause.

Anyway, we thoroughly enjoyed the opera but rushed off quickly at the end so that Sr. Rosemary could get back to the convent before it got too late. She claimed that everyone would be asleep by the time she got there anyway so she wasn’t too worried. I felt good that I had given her this small pleasure and memory of Rome before she departed and I’ve been humming Va’ pensiero to myself ever since. Look it up on You Tube and check out the New York Met version in 2002. You will be humming it to yourself as well!

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60 km in Four Days

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Bernie and Me in Parco Archaeologico di Tuscolo

Bernie and Me in Parco Archaeologico di Tuscolo

My foot has healed well I think, since I walked 60 km in 4 days this past week. Two more friends from Dublin came on a visit and the first day, we somehow covered 15 km just wandering the streets of Rome from St. Peter’s basilica to the Pantheon and all around that area. Temperatures in Rome are around 35C at the moment so walking about in the heat is not for cissies! However, after the cool weather in Dublin, my friends were happy to soak up the sun.

Roman Latrine, Ostia Antica

Roman Latrine, Ostia Antica

Two weeks ago, I discovered that my Canadian driver’s licence is not technically valid here and I had omitted to get an international one before I arrived. Not a big deal as with my foot being compromised, I coudn’t drive until very recently anyway. EU licences, on the other hand, are valid so Rory offered to brave the roads so that we could do a couple of day trips. We drove to Ostia Antica which I had visited before with Loris but not seen in its entirety. We started with a fine lunch by the ocean in Ostia followed by a walk along the beach. By the time we got to Ostia Antica, it had cooled down enough to enjoy the site. As on a previous visit, there weren’t a lot of people and it was a pleasure walking around. I missed this Roman latrine the first time. The aqueducts provided continuous running water in a trench in the floor under the seat creating a sort of permanent flushing system. Those Romans really knew about engineering. Some reports state that there is evidence of sticks with sponges attached which would be used to wash the nether regions and which accounts for the holes in front.

Archaelogists at Work in Parco Archaeologica di Tuscolo

Archaelogists at Work in Parco Archaeologica di Tuscolo

Another day, we drove to Frascati where Loris had taken me for a birthday lunch a couple of years ago. Unfortunately, the Aldobrandini palazzo  which dominates the town is not open to visitors. We drove up the mountain to the top and came upon the Parco Archaeologico di Tuscolo which was an ancient Roman site and which is currently being excavated. The ground was parched and dry but the view from the top of the mountain was magnificent. There was a group of archaelogists in the process of excavating the site. It looked like very boring and hot work as they dug a small area bit by bit using what appeared to be a small hand trowel. More time seemed to be spent in discussion than in digging.

Lake Albano at Castel Gandolfo

Lake Albano at Castel Gandolfo

After this, we drove down the other side of the mountain and stopped at Castel Gandolfo which I had also visited previously with Loris. Lake Albano was a beautiful, brilliant blue as always and we sat on the piazza watching a wedding and enjoying a beer before heading home. I don’t think Rory knew what he was letting himself in for when he agreed to drive but it certainly added a lot of variety (and stress!) to their visit and I enjoyed revisiting the places I like. There is a Portuguese word ‘saudade’ which more or less means feeling the presence of absence. I felt the absence of Loris though he certainly wouldn’t have walked 60 km in four days!

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Reflections on Solitude and Loneliness

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View from Gianicolo Hill

View from Gianicolo Hill

After my guests left, the apartment felt empty and silent and I missed having company. Although I enjoy my solitude and don’t need to be with people all the time, I felt a bit lonely. A few days later, I met some Roman friends for dinner and was trying to explain how I felt to them but couldn’t think of what Italian words to use in order to distinguish between loneliness and solitude. I don’t think they quite followed what I was talking about.

Flower Petal Art

Flower Petal Art

In Italian, the word ‘solitudine’ means both solitude and loneliness. In English, we think of loneliness as a negative thing that is not good for the psyche, a state of being without. Solitude on the other hand could be necessary and good for one’s well being, a positive thing. I called up a bilingual friend some days later to help me with this distinction in Italian and he laughingly commented that Italians can’t bear to be alone and construe solitude by definition, coming from the word ‘solo,’ as being alone or lonely! The word ‘solitario’ could describe someone wanting to be alone but it still doesn’t convey the same meaning as solitude in English so there actually is no word for this in Italian.

Grattachecca with Tamarind Syrup

Grattachecca with Tamarind Syrup

Anyhow, I’m trying to enjoy solitude and I’ve found a number of things quite satisfying regardless of whether or not I have company. Loris was a wonderful cook and shamefully, I left it all to him. Now, instead of feeling sad that he’s not here to cook Italian food and enjoy dinner with, I’m trying to remember how he made certain dishes and reproduce them (never tastes as good but I’ll get there!). I’ve started engaging with the vendors in the market who give me advice on how to cook things that I’m not familiar with so I get to practice my Italian. I go to free classical concerts in beautiful churches and you don’t need company to enjoy them. I indulge in a gelato or a nice cold ‘grattachecca’ (shaved ice with fruit syrup on top, my favourite is tamarind) when I go for a walk on a hot day and it’s just as good when you’re on your own. I wander around and find beautiful things to take pleasure in which is not difficult here as you always come upon something beautiful, like the floral arrangement above to celebrate the start of an Indian music festival. There are places in Rome where the view is breathtaking even if viewed alone like the one from Gianicolo hill.

In short, I’ve come to realize that thinking of the past makes me sad and thinking of the future makes me anxious so I’m happier just focusing on the present. On that note, I’m off to do my exercises to strengthen my foot because although I don’t want to think about the future, it will become the present and I have to stay in good shape and be prepared. Those high heel shoes are waiting to be worn and one day I might feel like I want to tango again.

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Walking and Eating With Friends

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Via Appia Antica

Via Appia Antica

Last weekend, I was down to using just one crutch which made it easier to hop on the bus and go a little farther afield. My increasing ability to walk happily coincided with the arrival of friends from Ireland. Two of them had been here previously and were content to take it easy and do little excursions off the beaten track.

Original Section of Via Appia Antica

Original Section of Via Appia Antica

One of our excursions was to go to the Via Appia Antica by bus. The Via Appia starts in the Foro Romano where it is called the Via Sacra and goes all the way to Brindisi in southeast Italy. Named after the Roman, Appius Claudius Caecus, who started it in 312 BC, it still contains sections of the original road. It is amazing to me that a dirt road covered over with gravel and a form of lime mortar and topped with large flat stones could survive for over 2,000 years. There is a spiritual feeling walking on stones that so many people have passed over through the centuries. Not that I walked much I must admit and we soon retired to a nearby garden cafe for refreshments. Still, when my foot is healed, I intend to do a long walk along the Via Appia and report on the sites along the way of which there are many including catacombs and churches.

Cheese/Prosciutto Tasting Plate at Secondo Tradizione

Cheese/Prosciutto Tasting Plate at Secondo Tradizione

A few days ago, I was given the ok to walk without crutches. The joy of having my hands free at last! That evening, one of my friends booked us on a sunset walking food tour (The Roman Food Tour) in the Prati neighbourhood which is next to mine. There were 11 of us in the group and the tour involved visiting local gourmet food shops, and sampling various types of antipasti, different types of pizza, Roman pasta dishes (amatriciana, carbonara, cacio e pepe), gelato and cannoli (Sicilian pastry). Living in Rome, I was a bit dubious about the tour to begin with. First of all, I already know where to go to buy high quality ingredients and since Loris was a wonderful cook as are friends of ours in Rome, I have eaten excellent Roman food. However, I have to say that I enjoyed the tour. Our guide, Raluca, was vivacious and knowledgeable. She not only gave us little  chunks of information on the history of some foods in Italy but also talked about how to order coffee (confusing for some people who are not used to the way coffee is served here), how to pick wine, cheese, ice cream and also how to recognize restaurants serving good food. After a glass or two of wine, our group became quite chatty and convivial and it was also interesting talking to them as we walked from place to place. I discovered a couple of shops that I didn’t know about and tasted some cheeses that I hadn’t previously heard of.

1466246182981One of the highlights for me was being able to taste almost all the pizzas in a pizzeria called Pizzarium where pizza is sold by the slice. The chef, Gabriele Bonci, invents creative toppings which you don’t find in standard pizzerias and he changes his toppings according to the season. Normally, if you go there, it is difficult to choose as there are many unusual combinations and you can’t eat more than one or two without bursting at the seams. What we did was to each choose a different slice which was then cut up into enough pieces to serve everyone in the group. So we got to taste 11 different types of pizza.

This evening of serious ‘grazing’ lasted over 4 hours, perhaps longer than usual as Raluca kindly ordered a bottle of Prosecco after our pasta dinner in order to toast a couple on their honeymoon. After this, we proceeded to the gelateria. It was past 10pm by the time we staggered home across St Peter’s Square. I was able to manage all the walking which felt like a small miracle and it felt really great to walk, eat and enjoy with good friends.

 

 

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Cast Off!

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Complesso Santo Spirito in Sassia

Complesso Santo Spirito in Sassia

My cast was removed on Friday after close to a month but I have to continue using crutches for another two weeks to keep the weight off my injured foot. I can’t describe how wonderful it is being able to take a shower without arranging chairs to prop up my leg and to sit on, or being able to go out by myself. We take all these things for granted but now I’m reminded that being able to walk is in itself something to be grateful for.

Foundling Wheel

Foundling Wheel

My local hospital, Ospedale Santo Spirito in Sassia on the Lungotevere, where I had my cast put on, is the oldest in Rome. It was originally a stopping place for Anglo-Saxon pilgrims visiting the Vatican. In 1198, Pope Innocent III turned it into a hospital in particular for the poor, for women and for orphans. Abandoned babies at that time would often be thrown into the Tiber. Pope Innocent III had a foundling wheel, constructed such that mothers could anonymously leave their children inside a drum which could then be rotated and received on the inside by caregivers. The wheel is still there and is the first of its kind in Rome though thankfully, no longer in use.

1465140606700The Santo Spirito complex is large, spanning a whole block. The old part is very beautiful with a couple of courtyards lined with frescoes and with mosaic floors. The clock in one of the courtyards is also very unusual with only six numbers on its face and a lizard (symbol of death and resurrection, I’m told) for a hand. I think the six numbers represent the times of prayer, matins, vespers etc. It wasn’t until the Napoleonic wars that Italian time was replaced by French time of 12 hours with the day starting at midnight.

1465140722762Anyhow, there is also a modern hospital within the complex and the Orthopedic Dept. has a good reputation which was lucky for me as I just went to the nearest Pronto Soccorso (ER) when I realized that there was something seriously wrong with my foot. The health system here, though public, is more complicated than we are used to in Canada and basic payments have to be made for tests and visits. The payments can be claimed upon filing of taxes and reimbursements are income based. When I was in ER, several people who appeared to have broken bones arrived by ambulance or escorted by police. I subsequently found out that if one falls as a result of a pothole, the city is responsible and shoulders the bill. However, the police or ambulance have to be called by way of establishing proof. Between, tests, treatment and mobility aids, I’ve spent around 300 EUR. I do have an Italian health card but I didn’t know to call the police when I fell and even if I had, it would likely take years and mountains of paperwork to recover the cost. Since last Friday was the day after Republic Day,  a public holiday, many staff had taken the day off in order to have a long weekend. Waiting time was unusually long and as you can see in the photo (with my foot in the foreground), people were falling asleep with boredom as the waiting rooms are very basic and there are no magazines or newspapers on offer. I took the opportunity to read about Santo Spirito on Google. It also houses a historic and very interesting medical museum which will be the subject of another post when I’m mobile enough to visit museums again.

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A Momentous May 21st

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1464102630943May 21st has always been a special day for me as it is Loris’ birthday. He would have been 68 this year.

River Enza from Vetto

River Enza from Vetto

The only request he had made regarding his funeral arrangements was that the majority of his ashes be brought back to Italy and thrown in the River Enza at Vetto close to where he was born and grew up in the province of Emilia Romagna. I thought May 21st would be a fitting day to do this. I didn’t know when I suggested this date that being the day of the full moon in May, it was also Buddha Day this year. This day commemorates the birth, day of enlightenment, and death of Gautama Buddha. Propitious as a day of remembrance indeed.

 Loris’ brother Roberto, had already arranged for the family to get together on this day, way before I fell and broke the bone in my foot. I was determined not to cancel the arrangement since family members were coming from various places. So on Saturday morning, we set out for the family home in San Polo, a 5h drive with my wheelchair strapped on the roof of the car! We got there in time for a quick lunch at the house and then rushed off to meet the extended family in the Piazza.

Bridge at Vetto

Bridge at Vetto

We all set off for Vetto which is quite high up in the mountains and where a tall bridge crosses the river. Loris used to do competitive whitewater kayaking in his youth and the races would either start or end at this bridge. As you can see, it is very high above the river so at first, because of me being in a cast, an aunt who had just had a knee operation, and a few people who couldn’t make the climb down to the river, the consensus was that we should throw the ashes over the side of the bridge. However, although it was a gorgeous, sunny day, there was a breeze blowing and it quickly became apparent that this was not a good idea.

Roberto decided that he would go down to the river, and we could watch from the top. His son Nicola is very fit and strong and he proposed carrying me down as well. 1464102090842I was worried that this would be a Herculean task for him but he hoisted me up into his arms and assured me that I was not heavy which may be true in general but I’m not so light that it didn’t require much effort. His little daughter was actually wearing a T-shirt saying ‘Too much to ask’ and indeed it was a lot to ask.

 We set off down the bank and made our way to the river. Everyone else, except for those who really couldn’t, followed suit. I’m sure Loris was laughing his head off, wherever he is, to see this procession winding its way down to the river in his honour. There are laws called Mortuary Police Regulations regarding scattering of ashes in Italy which vary from province to province. I believe scattering them in water is permitted though I could be wrong. The idea that we might be doing something illegal would have appealed to Loris even more!

1464102324693When we got to the bottom (Nicola wasn’t even short of breath, what a trooper!), Roberto threw in the ashes, the others threw in roses and we stood on the bank and watched the river flow and the roses float by. It was a moving, spiritual and memorable moment and I have to say that Loris was laid to rest in one of the most beautiful final resting places you could imagine. It makes me happy to think that he’s back home in the countryside that he loved.

1464268663296Afterwards, we proceeded to his other brother Athos’ house overlooking San Polo and raised a toast (brindisi) to Loris. In the evening, we all had dinner together with many more brindisi. It couldn’t have been more fitting that there was a full moon which Loris always loved. For me, it was  meaningful final farewell with all his family there and also my sister Florinda.

 

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Distressed and Disabled

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1463688977817I was practically helpless with my foot in a cast being unable to take care of most of the activities of daily living. My sister Florinda, kindly dropped all her commitments and flew here from Toronto to help me out but I was trapped at home for almost a whole week before she got here. My neighbours were absolutely wonderful even though I didn’t know them well before this happened. The lady across the landing would come every day to ask if I needed any groceries. Friends and acquaintances also rallied around. One friend dropped by every evening to give me a heparin injection to prevent blood clots forming in the leg in a cast. Another friend would come during the day to be here when I took a shower in case I should need help. When Florinda arrived, another friend went out and rented me a wheel chair so that we could go out.

1463673717048Last Sunday was my first foray out of the apt in my wheelchair. We live on a hill and although we have an elevator in the building, there is a fairly long flight of stairs to get from the front door to the gate so it’s not an easy feat getting to the street. When I finally made it down the stairs, I realized that I had forgotten to bring my camera so I sent Florinda back up to get it. Well, she got a bit discombobulated while closing the door and did the same thing I had done when I arrived so there we were, locked out of the apt again. I had left my phone inside so I couldn’t call any friends or the locksmith who had come the first time though he likely wouldn’t have agreed to come out on a Sunday anyway. The building we live in is small with only about nine apartments. All are owned by members of the same family as the building was once a single house that was divided up into apartments which were bequeathed to the children. A couple of them are rented out which is how we have ours. Anyway, as soon as one neighbour came by and saw us locked out, the whole house was alerted to figure out what could be done. Finally, two of the fitter occupants scaled the balcony from the adjoining apartment (I still can’t figure out how they managed to do this!) and got onto our balcony. It was a nice day and luckily, we had left our balcony door open so they were able to enter our apartment and open the door. Whew! After this episode, we know everyone in the building personally. I think they think of me as ‘that unlucky widow on the third floor’ and any time I see them they tell me to just call on them if I have any problem or need anything at all.

1463673249647Since Florinda came, we have made a few excursions, not without difficulty as Rome is not a city for the disabled with its hills, stairs and uneven cobbled streets. Yesterday, my cast was changed to a lighter one made of acrylic and now I have a canvas boot which enables me to put my foot on the ground. Only for balance though as I’m not yet allowed to put any weight on it so I’m still hopping around on my bastoni canadese. However, its a real pleasure to be able to go out and enjoy the sunshine and the smell of jasmine in the air. Poor Florinda is getting a good workout pushing me around as well as hefting bags of groceries up the hill.

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A Rough Return to Rome

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View of St Peter's Basilica From Our Street

View of St Peter’s Basilica From Our Street

I returned to Rome with a mixture of dread, fear and longing. Dread, because I knew I would be surrounded by memories of Loris and that I would miss him terribly……..I did and still do! Fear, because there were so many bureaucratic things to sort out which I would have to deal with in Italian……..there were and still are! Longing, because I found myself missing the eternal city with its beautiful weather, historic buildings, and delicious produce……..I wasn’t disappointed!

1462958055074It was a stressful return for the obvious reasons but things happened which I hadn’t accounted for. It never occurred either to me or to Loris’ brother to get the apt cleaned before I arrived so there was dirt and dust everywhere after a year of not being used. Beats me where it came from with all the windows and shutters tightly closed. The water heater wouldn’t work so a plumber had to be called just after I put my bags down. The lock on the front door is an old-fashioned one and had to be replaced in our absence. When I stepped out to get my phone activated, I turned the key once to lock the door and when I returned, I couldn’t unlock it no matter what I did. I found out after being locked out that the key has to be turned either twice or four times, never once or three times or the tumblers fall out of place. Only in Italy! So there I was locked out of the apt, feeling jet lagged, waiting for both the plumber and a locksmith to arrive. It wasn’t unpleasant sitting on the steps in the sun and both the plumber and locksmith came and soon set things right but it wasn’t a start I would care to repeat.

1462959293215I was just beginning to start getting things in place when a disaster occurred. I went for a walk a couple of days ago and as I stepped off the kerb to cross the road, my foot got stuck in a pothole and I fell. Well what do you know but I’ve broken a metatarsal bone in my foot, one of those long bones that go from your toes to your ankles. I’m in a hard plaster cast that goes from just under my knee to the tips of my toes. I have what they call ‘bastoni canadese’ here, not sure why they’re called that. They’re just regular forearm crutches and the ones I have are made in Italy. I can’t go too far in them and definitely can’t leave the apt as I can’t go up or down stairs. We have an elevator in the building but since we live on a hill, there’s a fairly long flight of stairs to get from the front door to the gate. So here I am sitting in an armchair with my leg propped up. However, the sun is shining, the sky is cloudless, the birds are singing and I can go out on the balcony. It could be worse, I could be in hospital with a broken hip or some such thing. At least that’s what I keep telling myself!

 

 

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