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Not only was it Valentine’s day on Saturday, but there were also celebrations for the Chinese New Year. Valentine’s day is not a big deal here except that the flower shops hang a few red hearts outside and some restaurants have started offering Valentine’s Day dinners.
It was a beautiful day with sunshine and blue skies so we went to Ostia on the coast for lunch where seafood was the order of the day. We haven’t been eating desserts since Christmas but being Valentine’s day, we made an exception and indulged.
Back in the city, there was a Chinese festival at the Piazza del Popolo. The name of the Piazza translates as the ‘People’s Piazza’ but in actual fact it takes its name from the church of Santa Maria del Popolo which was built on top of the tomb of the Roman emperor Nero over which grew a poplar tree. Or so the legend goes anyway. It was the site of public executions until 1826 but is now a pleasant spot for public celebrations and gatherings. A huge stage had been set up and we were entertained by various types of Chinese performances from music and dance to gymnasts.
Carnival celebrations were going on all over the city and the streets are littered with coriandoli (what in English we call confetti) which is being sold in little packets by street vendors and newsagents. Children dressed in costume were running around throwing it on each other. There were a few adults in costume as well and for us, it was a bit reminiscent of the Halloween weekend. Of course, all celebrating stops after Martedi Grasso or ‘Fat Tuesday’ but more about that when it actually happens.