Easter is upon us and though I know that it is very early this year, the timing seems out of joint since it is not as warm as usual in Rome for this time of year. Normally, cherry blossoms are in flower by now but not this year.
It rained practically every day until about two weeks ago and the banks along parts of the Tiber River are flooded. A good reminder of how the neighbourhoods along the Tiber would get flooded on a regular basis, until the embankments were built, starting in 1876.
So, with the feeling that somehow the time and weather are not what they should be, I was delighted to come upon the caption ‘Time is out of Joint’ on the steps of the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea which has recently undergone a massive renovation and restructuring. This was the title of a major exhibition which was put on immediately after the renovation and which has just ended. Where previously, the collection was displayed in chronological fashion, it was grouped according to theme and contrast to create a dialogue between past and present. By not displaying the works through the concept of historical time nor even by groupings of sculptures and so on, one did see them in a different way. The gallery has a new Director, a Direttrice, Christiana Collu who is relatively young. Her idea for the exhibition was that time needs to be realigned by weaving new, unexpected relationships that shun the orthodox and codified laws of chronology.
With the recent election in Italy, her concept will be transferred into a different arena. No party got enough votes to form a clear majority which has been more or less the norm in Italy for decades. The two parties with the highest number of votes were the extreme right Lega and the populist party the M5S (Movimento Cinque Stelle). Two more unlikely bedfellows would be hard to imagine. The geographical division of votes was remarkable with the Lega winning a majority in the upper half of Italy and the M5S in the lower half.
The leader of M5S, Luigi di Maio is only 32, did not graduate from University, and has not had a defined career so far. His ability to hold his own with other European prime ministers like Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron is debatable. The leader of Lega, Matteo Salvini, is said to have won a majority through internet targeting using anti-immigration as a key stance. Somehow, I can’t quite get my mind around an unexpected relationship between these two groups and in any case, the M5S have always said that they won’t be part of a coalition so I think a new election might be in the works. This is the second election since I’ve been here and there were great hopes of change after the last in 2014 but a coalition was formed and no agreement on anything could be achieved.
Here in Rome, politicians have risen and fallen for 2,000 years and discussions and arguments abound, but when it comes to festivals like Easter, food and wine take precedence. The shops and bakeries are filled with Easter pastries like colomba and special breads like casiatello which one only gets at Easter. My neighbours have very kindly invited me for lunch on Easter Sunday so I’m assured of good, home-cooked Roman food. On that note, Buona Pasqua to all my readers.