Sunday 6th April – One week into the social experiment (don’t call it a holiday – right?) that is my four weeks in Pigneto, Rome. Okay you backpackers, world travellers, ex-pats and exchange students – that may not seem that impressive to you but it’s four weeks out of my healthy comfort zone of one day fasts, limited caffeine and dairy diet, fresh (in comparison) Scottish air and soft Scottish water – so to me it’s a big deal. But apart from that I (we) are taking to it like ducks to water. So on this lazy Sunday afternoon as we sink a couple of beers in Yeah! to a consistently brilliant soundtrack – alternating between Morrissey and Pulp – here are some (general) observations so far:
1. Social capital is key – forget your northern european stay indoors culture. People get out and about, to see and be seen, even if it’s just to down an espresso on the way to work or back home – it’s five minutes of chat and goss. Totally invaluable!
2. There are a lot of very cute dogs and they seem to like eating bread when it’s chucked out for the birds in the park – what do the birds eat?
3. Everyone wants to practise their English which is a disaster for learning Italian – hey ho…
4. Everyone smokes and drinks coffee – along with the pollution – how does everyone look so healthy? It must be having access to loads of fresh fruit and veg and a good old mental attitude.
5. There’s a brilliantly integrated vibe whereby younger people, older people and cute little dogs can chill out together into the wee small hours. There’s no hint of aggression or any pressure to drink yourself silly (one week in we’re still working on that one…) Maybe it’s because the sanctified surroundings of Yeah! are something particularly special but I get the feeling that’s just the Italian way.
Pigneto in particular:
The Energy Park is a great place for chilling out, people watching and one cheeky little Jack Russell with a fondness for bread (see above). Today there was a demonstration to save the lake in the park from developers who want to build a shopping centre there. The demonstration was passionate with loudspeakers, banners and people banging on a padlocked gate. The gate did seem quite flimsy so I’m sure the banging was more symbolic than anything else but as two Jocks we were tempted to offer to kick it in for them if that’s what they wanted… The police were there and even though feelings were passionate it did seem good natured with pregnant women and little kids in the crowd. Also there seemed to be no paranoia re filming the event. It seems like a good cause and I hope the people of Pigneto triumph!
We went to Marguri for a pizza the other night with our new good friend Alessandro. Checked tablecloths; people from little kids to really quite elderly crowding in quite late on; strangers sitting close together (gasp!); bright lighting (eek!) and just the complete Italianess was like The Jolly turned up to eleven (is it possble to feel nostalgic about an Edinburgh pizzeria when in Rome?) In short though – well recommended for a great quality Neapolitan style (puffy base) pizza.
Above was actually only our second eating-out night. First off was Food Art just down the road from Yeah! Highly recommended with a yummy veggie antipasti, Roman style (crispy base) pizzas and a litre of house red for only 5.50!!! They apparently make ther own seitan which I’ll try later as we’ll definitely be going back.
Tuodi is our local supermarket, just across from Food Art with a bigger branch just at the top of the pedestrionised bit of via del Pigneto. There’s also a Conrad half way between the two but think Tuodi has the edge for prices and choice. Finding it pretty hard tho to source any spices other paprika, luckily we brought our own packet of curry powder and Richard cooked up a spicy storm last night. We’ve invited Alessandro around for a curry night – R has told him (ironic humour here) it’s a national Scottish dish and I think he believes him…
Saw a terrific local band called Zman (there’s an accent on the ‘a’ which I can’t do on this keyboard) in Yeah! the other night. A four piece – guitar/vocals, bass, percussion, keyboards/saxaphone – playing sort of psychedelic folk-rock. A bit like early David Bowie meets The Doors with touches of Gruff Rhys’ Candylion and The Coral in their more acoustic moments. Well worth checking out.