Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta rome. Mostrar todas las entradas
Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta rome. Mostrar todas las entradas

martes, 16 de agosto de 2016

When in Rome...

   The first thing I heard was the automated voice indicating people if they had to stand on the doors on the left or the right. I heard the sound as if it was coming from a place very far from me but then it seemed to become clearer. That made me open my eyes and then I realized I was in one of the metro trains I had used years earlier to get to know the city of Rome. People were talking amongst themselves, some tourists were looking at a map above one of the doors and a small child looked at me straight in the eye.

  I decided to stand up and get out of the train as soon as possible. There was another audio automated service and then the train entered a station. I didn’t really see the name of the station I was in. I only wanted to run away from that underground location in order to check out something above ground and feel a little les intoxicated. When I finally got out to the street, I felt very dizzy, my legs had problems letting me stand up and every sound and image apparently adjust itself in a few seconds.

 There was a park bench near the exit of the station and I decided to use it because I wasn’t feeling good at all. I felt my head was spinning around. Besides, everyone around me spoke a language I didn’t know and I didn’t really felt safe speaking to them in English. I felt I had forgotten everything about myself. I tried to remember what I was doing before appearing on the subways but I couldn’t remember.

 A young nun then came up to me and said something in Italian. She spoke very slowly for me to understand what she was saying but it wasn’t good enough for me. Anything that involved thinking hurt too much. She decided to give her hand and I grabbed it without thinking it much. She made me walk around a beautiful but very lonely neighborhood until we arrived to a very typical Roman house with an inner patio. I didn’t know much about religious people but that must have been a convent.

 She fed me and gave me something to read as he washed my clothes on a very modern washing machine. I waited on my underwear in the kitchen and was very ashamed when a group of four nuns entered the kitchen and I was there naked, reading a magazine. The nun that had saved me, I think her name was Angela, appeared out of nowhere and explained the situation to the rest of the sisters.

 They decided to give me a room for the night, as the weather was not as sunny as before and the clothes may take a longer while to be ready. I couldn’t deny the offer, even if I had wanted too. But I didn’t because in that place I felt the peace I needed to organize who I was before appearing on that city and why that had happened.

 That night was very strange. I was assigned one of the cells in the upper floors, were formerly the new novices slept before they were fully accepted as nuns. Sister Angela explained to me that they hadn’t had a new girl in a long time, as she had been the last one. The woman looked in her late thirties and explained further, commenting that girls nowadays had no desire to get in contact with their religious roots and have a life of celibacy and dedicated to the Lord.

 Through the very small window in my room, I was able to see the moon. It looked so beautiful but at the same time a little bit false. I pinched my hand in order to know if I hadn’t been dreaming or something but it didn’t work. I was really in that small room and had to get used to the idea of not remembering anything about my past o at least not in a very obvious way. I was lost, technically, and had to wait and see what I could do to go back to wherever I was before.

 I slept strangely at peace. My eyes closed early and I woke up early too. Normally, I would require several hours to feel rested but in that moment I felt I could take on the whole world by myself. It was a very nice feeling that I had never really experimented before. Normally I woke up much more tired than I was before going to bed. I guessed it had something to do with the strict code the nuns had going on there but I also expected it to be something related to the fact that I was in blank, no memories inside.

 The next day, I put on my clean clothes and they all came to the door to bud farewell to me. They were all very kind people and I would have loved to see more of them, maybe take a picture. But somehow, I didn’t think of that then. It would have been the best proof to guarantee that what had happened had not been a dream or an illusion caused by my mind. I waved at them as I walk further away from the convent, until I didn’t see them anymore and realized how lonely I felt, again.

 After walking a little bit more, I arrived in a square: it was very beautiful and tourists were all over the place taking pictures and discussing the shapes and sizes of the figures in the fountains. I was trying to understand what a couple was saying near me when I heard a voice, a very strong male voice coming from somewhere. At first, I couldn’t tell what he was saying. Then, I understood he was saying my name.

 I looked around for the owner of the voice but there was no one that seemed to have that very deep register near where I was. Besides, no one seemed to be looking at me, ignoring the fact that I was there as if my existence bothered them so much that they had decided to ignore until I decided to disappear.

 That happened a few seconds later, when the voice called upon me again and I understood that it was calling me from very far. Walking rather slowly, I was able to follow the deep voice saying my name. I walked through deserted streets, packed avenues and beautiful gardens until I reached some long and white stairs. The bright sun above made them look as if they were from glass.

 The voice called upon me again, urging me to come to him fast. His message to me had changed so I knew I was very near. When I arrived at the top of the staircase, I realized there was a museum up there. There was a small square and on one side the entrance and on the other side, the exit of the museum. The voice appeared to be coming from the exit so I walked towards there.

 Beyond the machines that controlled the exit process of the museum, there was a fountain and I realized the voice was coming from there. But there was a security guard nearby and the only way I could’ve entered the museum was by jumping over the machines. I decided to pretend I was reading some pamphlets they had on a table by the door. The guard finally moved, in order to face towards the inner courtyard of the museum. I took my chance and jumped, landing silently on my feet.

 I wanted to scream in celebration because I had never done anything so cool in my life, but I realized it wasn’t really the place and the moment for that. So I turned around and walked towards a small garden they had by a room filled with sculptures. The faces of those objects seemed to be looking at me but I knew the voice was coming from a fountain in the garden. Sure enough, there was a huge figure of the God of the seas, Poseidon, on the fountain.

 The figure did not move but it did talk to me. He told me the Gods had decided to bring me to Rome in order to let me know everything was going to be all right. When I heard that, I didn’t know if I wanted to laugh or punch the statue or what. I got closer to the water and the figure told me that I was there by choice and that I could’ve left at any moment, if I had wanted to leave.

 As I heard that, I felt dizzy again and then the world became blurry for an instant. Then everything went dark, I felt my head hitting something and then my eyes opened once again. I had fallen from my bed, my insane dream having finished. I was covered in sweat and had to go to the bathroom to clean myself, ignoring the metro card that fell with me from the bed to the floor.

martes, 9 de junio de 2015

Broken camera in Rome

   I woke up very early, to the sound of m cellphone alarm. It was still a bit dark but I knew I had too take advantage of every single hour if I was to spend the whole day in the city of Rome. I entered the shower, thinking about how strange it was to wake up early in a holiday but that after all it was the best reason to do it. I didn’t take very long, dressing up pretty quickly and then grabbing my bag, where I kept everything I needed to walk around. I would leave my backpack, which was my only luggage, in the room until the next day when I had to leave the city.

 My real holiday had been spent in Greece, where I had been laying in the sun for almost a week. But I had decided to go back home via Rome so to have one day of sightseeing around the city. In Greece I had also walked around a lot, visited museums, gone to the beach, taken hundreds of pictures and getting to know one or two Greek men. Yes, I had a very good time in that country.

 I went down to the hotel restaurant and realized an hour had already passed since I had woken up. As I helped myself to orange juice and cereal, I noticed only another table was occupied at that time by an elderly couple. Every other person, especially families, woke up late during the holidays which would have been great but I wanted to have the option to visit as many places as possible. As I ate, I checked a small schedule I had created with things I could do: museums were ruled out as they usually take a long time to go through. But I couldn’t avoid going to the Colosseum and to the Forum as they were symbols of the city and walking them wasn’t that time consuming.

 After lunch I decided to go there first, as it was the farthest place on the schedule. I would begin to walk from there closer to the hotel, in order to get there late to have some hours of sleep and then leave early in the morning for home. The metro station was not very far so it was in a matter of minutes that I arrived to the Colosseum. The place was very majestic, although some of the walls were covered as they were being repaired. There were men dressed as ancient roman soldiers all around and a lot of tourists, even that early. The place had a weird vibe, as if it was palpable that people had died there. On the highest part, I took several pictures and realized more and more people were entering. After some more minutes, I crossed a small piazza towards the Forum. The entrance fee covered both sites so it was perfect.

 Various temples still stand, very large structures and the general layout of the site is magnificent. It was there when I noticed two things: there were lots of tourists in the city and the temperature was rising fast. After all, it was the middle of summer. Silly me, I hadn’t brought a water bottle with me and I already started to feel a bit lightheaded. I went on walking; trying to “shake it off”, but it wasn’t that easy. Finally, a sign saved my life when I realized there were water fountains all around the premises, in order for people to fill their bottles or drink directly. Apparently the city had one of the purest water in the continent.

 I didn’t walk all around because some areas were only trees and some ruins. I took pictures and then moved on. The Circus area was a disappointing place, more like an undeveloped terrain than anything else. Across that stretch of land, which was pretty big, I made the line to put my hand in the Mouth of truth, a whole in a marble image that people used to think was good to use as a lie detector. I then walked through the streets to finally reach the Piazza Venezia where there was a large statue of Victor Emanuele, the man who united Italy and made it a republic. I only took pictures from the outside and it was here my luck had run out.

 My camera had stopped working. It wouldn’t turn on so I decided to walk towards a small square in front a church and sit there to check it properly. This would have taken a lot of my time and I had no time to lose. But that was visible not important to an unanimated object that wouldn’t work. I took the battery out, the memory card, I shook it and even yelled at it but it just wouldn’t work. As I did that, someone came closer to me and said something in Italian I didn’t understand. It was a man, maybe in his thirties, who was extending his hand to me. For a moment, I felt scared, but then I realized that if the camera was broken, there was really no harm in giving it away.

 The man took it in his hands and checked it all around. I, for one, was looking at him. Italian men were very into the facial hair thing and always very lean, not muscular or fat but rather nice complexions. The man didn’t seem to notice my eyesight going all over him as he tried to ask me something in his language. I tried to understand, breaking it up buy words. I recognized the word “help” and the word “camera”. I nodded, looking a bit stupid, and then he stretch out his arm to me and I grab it, clumsily again. He started talking and walking and I just followed him. I realized I was losing time but I felt I couldn’t just be rude to him.

 He talked every step of the way. I just nodded and smiled, thinking how stupid I must look doing that like a robot. After a few blocks from the square, he pulled out some keys and entered and old building. Inside, it was beautiful. The place was full of lowers and everything was very clean and taken care off. A cat slept on a corner and barely looked at us as we passed. I followed the men up some stairs and to, what I presumed, was his apartment. It felt really cool at this time of day. He offered me a chair and then started to check my camera on a table with a big lens and a lot of different tools and gadgets I had never seen but would attribute to an engineer or a mechanic or something like that.

 He had stopped talking and was very concentrated in the camera. He opened one side and started moving things around. I nervously took out my cellphone and realized time was passing fast. I needed to head to the Trevi Fountain if I wanted to visit every place I had put on my list. Uneasy, I stood up and tried to say something but couldn’t think of the words. Anyway, it wasn’t necessary. He turned around, put a hand around my wait for me to get closer and explained slowly what he had done. Funny enough, I understood it all. The camera was working again and I could keep taking pictures. I took out my wallet to pay him for his troubles he grabbed it and put it back in my bag.

 So he didn’t wanted pay. I asked again but he kept nodding his head negatively so I stopped talking and just stood there like an idiot. Then I remembered my schedule and decided to just shake his hand and be on my way. As I turned around, he pointed at himself and said he would take me around. Yes, he spoke in my same language which was both funny and annoying, as if I had know he knew what I was saying it would have been less of a weird experience.

 We went out to the street and right enough, we went to the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, Piazza Navona and through streets he knew very well. We didn’t really talked about ourselves, not even when we decided to have lunch in the afternoon, after walking a lot. We had a delicious pizza and ice cream for desert and it was only then when I told him I was a writer and he told me he worked fixing all kinds of electronic devices. But we went on to talk about Rome and Italy and politics soon enough.

 To be honest, it had been a great day with him and I had more time to spend. So we went to the Vatican and entered Saint Peter’s basilica, which is enormous. It feels like entering a huge cavern or something like that. Pietro, as he had told me his name was, explained to me everything there was to know about the site. Funny enough, some tourists thought he was a guide and began asking him questions. He was kind enough to answer every single one of them. After that, he took me again through the streets, taking pictures of people, cafés, ice cream parlors and just about everything. The sun had already gone and I had only a couple of hours left.

 He invited me to have some wine and then we chatted again about things that were not us. About other people, my trip, his country. He was very charming and I could feel he didn’t do that often. He wasn’t a player or a very outgoing person. He was just one of those people that loves to help and that feels alone, because that I could see, as he walked me to my hotel. His eyes talked as his mouth didn’t and that was more than enough for me. When we got to the lobby, I wanted to shake his hand but he decided to hug me instead. It was a very nice hug, also speaking volumes, which his mouth was unable to express. We bid farewell and then I went up to my room.

 To this day, I regret not asking him for his number or email address or something. But I also answer myself that it probably wasn’t one of those encounters. Maybe it was meant to be a one-time thing, one of those that’s really great and lives in our memo

viernes, 10 de octubre de 2014

Signore Mazzanti

Fyodor Mazzanti, was born to an odd couple: an italian father and a russian mother. He was born in Kazan in 1916, but a year after his family fled to the west. They eventually came back to his father's hometown, Laurenzana, locate in southern Italy.

The kid, born between communism and fascism, grew up with a lot of love around: his mother, an only child, gave him all that she could, including a younger brother. His father always came from work with candies or toys.

Lorenzo, his brother, and him, grew up happy. That was the most important. But their parents suddenly became enthralled by the governing party in the country. Soon enough, they were attending rallies and supporting causes they did not fully understand.

When he turned eighteen, he had the chance to leave the country to study and their parents wanted him to go to Berlin. They said the german language was the future and that he and Lorenzo should know all about it.
But Fyodor felt his place was in Italy, as his love for this country, his adoptive one, grew exponentially since he was a little boy. He wanted to study history or art. His parents finally accepted his decision and he went on to live alone in small flat above a bakery in Rome, in the Trastevere district.

Lorenzo turned eighteen the same year Italy entered the war against the Allies and he didn't let his parents say a word: he went to Sicily and boarded a ship from there, on to New York. Fyodor would only know about him until five years later.

The war ravaged the continent and it was worst for the Mazzanti family towards the end, when the allies bombarded cities all over Italy. Fyodor himself was saved by a lover, who kept him a little bit too long in her room, saving his life as a bomb hit his house.

In Laurenzana, his parents were safe and received the American troops by asking them how to get in touch with their son. No one knew how to help, as communications to the outside had been cut for months. And both mother and father suffered for the faith of their children.

As soon as the government fell, Fyodor travelled to his former house and found that no one was there. His family had disappeared, leaving no word or letter behind. He returned to Rome, finished his studies and went on to work with the Capitoline Museums. They were gathering a lot of damaged paintings and sculptures from every single part of the country.

He was happy for his job and now lived in a very nice house, near his first flat in the city. Every day he got to see great pieces of artwork. But at the same time, he thought of his family, the face of his mother when cooking a brilliant new dish, his father when carving a nice piece of wood and his brother Lorenzo playing with his favorite toy train.

He had looked for them all over, visiting Laurenzana often but he found very little information. A neighbor told him they had left after the American arrived, towards Sicily. Fyodor went to Palermo but the trail died there as no one knew if they had ever boarded a ship or if they had decided to go back.

Death was not an option, he thought. He felt of them as alive as every single moment he wasn't working, restoring old pieces in the museum or traveling for them, he went on to check every fact he knew about his parents and his brother.

He had even visited New York a couple of times, looking for his parents. He knew that was useless as many immigrants had changed their names when arriving through Ellis Island but he insisted without success.

Fyodor grew bitter because of this. His family had given him so much love as a child and then they just vanished. He was a grown man but he missed them all and not knowing anything about what had happened, was just heartbreaking.

It had affected his love life too. Women grew tired of trying to make him fall in love with them as he never paid much attention. His work was the thing that distracted him from the pain of having been left alone. Besides, he was afraid that if he had a child, he would do the same. He couldn't think of breaking someone into pieces like that, he just didn't want to do what his parents did to him.

In 1978, after more than thirty years on the job, he finally decided to step out to give room for a new generation. His eyesight was everything for him and now he was slowly loosing it. The staff of the museum made a party, with cake and champagne and all kinds of songs and music. It was the first time in years that he cried, in public no les. People thought it was because of his job, but that wasn't the cause.

During those years he had a dog called Caesar. A gray great dane that just loved him. As tall and strong as he had always being, it was the perfect pet for Fyodor.

Now, with all the time in the world, he decided to try one last time and he looked for the help of an institution to track down his family. He gave them all the information he had and they told him to be patient, to wait and that sometimes, nothing happened.

Fyodor waited for almost fifteen years until a young woman called Maria, called him to tell him she had found his file and that she had been investigating. She had found her brother. When he asked about his parents, she said they had died years ago in California.

Weak but now on the verge of finally getting answers, he flew to San Francisco and, with Maria, visited the cemetery were his parents were buried. He cried and cried, kneeling and just crying, without saying a word. Maria could only stand there.

The day after that, they went to Las Vegas. Lorenzo had become the owner of a fast food restaurant chain and now was retired in a house on the outskirts of Las Vegas.
They hugged and cried together and Maria smiled, as she was happy to reunite family.

Fyodor went back to Rome after a week and asked Lorenzo to visit him sometime.

Just a few weeks after that, he went to take a stroll around his neighborhood with Caesar. They sat in a park bench and watched people go by. And he then fell asleep. And died there, finally at peace.