domenica 24 novembre 2013

S'abba tenet memoria

As white as white can be, sitting, elegant, on the slope, the villa, that my father built in Cala Girgolu, in Sardinia, looked, from the beach, like a candid blanket left to dry in the gentle caress of the hot sun and salty wind that were and are king and queen in those latitudes. My father, who was a lawyer, had discovered the deserted spot (in the far away Sixties) during one of his lonely roams in the island which he loved as if he had been, in a previous life, king of a nuragic tribe... He found the place, fell in love with Tavolara, pink and blue in the distance, bought a piece of land and started building his dream. His dream is now my dream and as I write these words, I am there now, right now, wings glued on my feet like the ones that Hermes wore to bring messages from the Gods to us, down here, in this topsy turvey world.
And as I see, all around, the sad scenes that I watched on television: water everywhere and the sea full of trees from the land inside, I remember an old sardinian man, a friend of my father's, who, long, long ago, said to my father (and to me sitting in his shadow), and he was criticizing the modern way to build, build, build, as if the planet only belonged to us, selfish people. He said in sardinian: "S'abba tenet memoria".  The water remembers. No matter what man does, nature is stronger...

domenica 10 novembre 2013

Roman Walks

On the blabla of november, when winter, with its grey hat and mighty brown coat, will at last hug the Eternal City, bringing shivers and joy to the Romans, sick of an unusual summerlike autumn, I’ll be walking together with two lovely irish ladies from the Trajan Column to the Pantheon, speaking and speaking and showing the secret symbols, that few see (too busy with the turmoil of life),  which are the living signs of history and of the red thread stretching throughout the centuries in the beauty of truth.  You need eyes wide open to see it all and, please, do not be afraid to open up the third eye, that sleeps in mindlessness in the middle of the forehead. Do not fret, it will open up as my words (many, two hours of words…) creep inside, merging with the secret river that flows in the silence of our souls.

Ready, steady, go: it is going to be a plunge in history, culture, religion, all in one because it is actually all in one, as Georgina Masson knew… If you are interested in my “Passeggiate Romane” and you are coming to Rome, willing to understand the City (and life) and not only to dash from the Colosseum to the Vatican Museums, please send me an e-mail  ( and we can arrange it together. Do as the Romans Do also for a coffee, for a pizza, for an icecream. Food is sacred as much as monuments. When in Rome, do it our way... 

domenica 15 settembre 2013

I will not forget!

When I often enough walk around my beloved Rome with friends that come from Ireland or Brasil or even from Australia and all over the world, I like to show them, in the midst of all the symbols (unseen to the crowd) that shine and glitter in the Enternal City, the deep golden line that breathes troughout the centuries, in the flow of an eternal river, and calls to us from our deepest soul. So there, here I am with two dear friends whose names I'll keep to myself; here I am ready for a spyral trip to heaven, from the Trajan colum to the soft snowy lantern of Sant'Ivo alla Sapienza. And when I speak, of emperors and myths, all things run to sit in their own place, in an order that is no more human but cosmic in its own happy way. I speak and see the eyes bright up in recognicion as if the long lost story, that is inside each one of us comes true again in a glimpse of truth, with eyes wide open to the mystery all around us...
Well then, my words follow the thing which I hold deep down, but sometimes, oh dear, my memory runs wild and I forget all that I know as if that pearl is not needed in my necklace.. It happened, last time, in front of the Bernini Elephant that carries its obelisk where once there was the temple of Isis, then of Minerva and now a chirch of the Dominicans. By Jove, I cannot recall the story, why an elephant? I try and try to recall the stories that I lnow, but nothing. Never mind, the Panthoen is there, in all its perfect beauty and full of stories that want to be told. I am about to leave my elephant alone in the square when, believe it or not, I hear its marble voice: "Oh dear, oh dear, can't you remember? Why then, too bad. An elephant never forgets!". And turning around I catch a glimpse of his big bum, with a coiled tail, facing the convent of the Dominicans. Now I remember!: Bernini had a row with a dominican priest who thought he new better than the master and that is why the elephant (which means one needs a strong structure to hold all the knowledge in life, this is a lesson for all...) turns its back on the convent and on me, for once. I will not forget, next time, I promise...

lunedì 8 luglio 2013

Big Noses in Paradise

Believe me: paradise, in Rome, is everywhere; but one has to have sharp eyes  or a guardian angel to find it in the midst of a crowd, all in one in the touristic spots where that paradise, which once was life and breath of that place too, is lost forever being a treasure for many, too many. Paradise has a narrow door, secluded, shy, a little door that leads to the silver river of pure life… Yes, one needs to have sharp eyes and ears and a keen mind to find the way out of the maze of the world, with all its noise and invitations, in the infinity of another hidden world, that promises the pleasures of the spiritual garden that is inside us and smiles at the one outside… So, I tell you, if you happen in Rome, do not follow (or not only…) the usual paths of the flock, but open your heart, your mind and soul to a different Rome, one made of paradise…
Paradise in Rome is where I’ll lead you today. Come with me to seek the joys of harmony in the hidden heart of Rome. And, as if in a magic spell, here we are in Villa Aldobrandini, a garden, pure green above the busy, grey, desertic Via Nazionale. In the grace of the shadows, under the trees that breathe together in eternity, stop and think why the Roman families (in this case the Aldobrandini) chose to live surrounded by nature and with a chatting fountain pouring its silver waters in the times to come… Water, the water of life: this is what the emperors gave to the Romans with their many baths, and the Popes with the great fountains (like the Trevi one) that are here and there and everywhere in the Eternal City. Ok, enough of Paradise now. I am walking back home and all of a sudden a group of tourists stop me to ask if they can drink the water of the little fountains that bloom in the City. “Of course”, I answered and did they laugh when I told them that we Roman call the little fountains “Nasoni” which means big noses... 

martedì 2 luglio 2013

English Cinderella

Vivian had "signorinas" too. Hers came from the United States of America; mine from Ireland, England and from Australia. That is the reason why our english, being good for both, was ever so different. I thought that she miaowed hers, in a roller coaster sort of way that sounded, to me, unfamiliar; mine had and has, even if cooked under the sun of the Anthipodes, all in one, the grace of the old world, a flavour of european home, the touch of the past, in the line of the Daffodils of Wordsworth. It is as if, crossing the wide, dangerous Ocean, the language of Shakespeare, which was not that of William the Conqueror, had melted in the waves of the high waters and flowed to an ever so different rythm, a sort of mellow merrygoround, good for another shore, a paradise regained...
I had Ann, who came from Limerick; Vivian had Saranda, who was american, but indian all the same in her purple hair and black, wizzing eyes. Ann, blond and freckled, helped me in the search of Fairyland. Saranda could draw like an angel. I still remember her Snow White waking up surrounded by the lovely looking dwarves. Like Vivian and I - Saranda said - Snow White had to cross the woods and toil for her living and, finally, become a queen. In her words, my reverie, broken down, in an instant by the twins, my brothers and my mother, calling me to set the table for dinner.  Me, an english Cinderella...

giovedì 27 giugno 2013

In the flow of the river

It is, for me, pure pleasure to walk in my shining Rome with people who love to listen to my stories and who are more than empty to fill their gaze with all the beauty the Eternal city can bestow. It has been the case, these last two days, of me and Mike and John. Here we are, the three of us, I, all Roman in flesh and soul, and they, australian, not used to ruins and temples - which are my daily bread - with the sparkle of curiosity flaming high on the crown, more than ready to plunge into beauty and the misteries and secrets that Rome reveals to the happy few...
 All aboard. Here we are, we three, walking under the golden sun of Rome, on the traces of history, trimmed by the joys of modern times. Cars coming and going, and in the Piazza Venezia, raise you eyes to catch a glimpse of Medusa in the eternal dance of greek mith which is always, us unaware, alive and kicking; off we go to admire the one and only dome of Sant'Ivo alla Sapienza, that spirals up above in a sky the colour of the mantle of the Madonna, like the sacred kundalini; a breathtaking masterpiece of Francesco Borromini. But because we are made of flesh too, a coffee in Sant'Eustachio is what is more than needed. Hurray! Then, off to paradise, in the secret garden of Livia, Augusto's spouse, which is a perfect joy to the eye and to the spirit if only one can leave behind the touristic wave and find Ariadne'd thread, in pure silence, in the flow of the eternal river.
Time to go, time to go home. Up above and down again to earth, when, head in the air, deep in my reveries, I bump on someone on the road. "Sorry!", I say and he replies: "It's nothing". Then, looking straight in my eyes, he continues: "I don't know, but I'd love to be where you are..." In the flow of the river, hand in hand with Dyonisus...

sabato 25 maggio 2013

In the heart of Rome

Because I love my darling Rome, I like to walk around its lovely hereabouts and, whenever I can, I love to give my foreign friends (next time it will be Nick from Australia...) a glance through history, which is what happens if one roams about Rome with open eyes and soul and heart. I usually start my Roman tour under the beautiful Trajan column, explaining how the markets of that spanish general, who became emperor, used to bear, at the back, a large library which bore a flight of stairs in the inside that made the bas relief look like a playful and colored (because the marble was painted!) comic strip... Next I ask my dear guests to look up at the blue skies, up above. "Who is the man up there? - I ask - is it Trajan?". But of course not! It's Saint Peter! Trajan has been thrown down to stick up there the new power in the form of an old bearded man holding the key of Paradise. And there, as if in makebelief, all history becomes true. It was once the Roman empire, now the Roman catholic church... There, the same international aim! So now, the walk continues and as I come, with my tourist friends, under the house that hosted Napoleon's mother (more history), I recall my little brazilian nephew, who lives in a modern city where everything is brand new and has very little history. I said to him, pointing at the most gorgeous medieval house that survives in the Monti area: "Look how lovely!". And he answered: "Casa da bruxa". Meaning house of the whitch..

mercoledì 15 maggio 2013

The wedding cake in Rome

This morning, under a white crying sky, I found myself in Piazza Venezia, a lovely flowery square, clean in its simple Roman heart, that is the bright start of the Via del Corso, which, once upon a time bore the majestic name of Via Lata (the big way). At the bottom of the Via del Corso, another beautiful Piazza, the piazza del Popolo which is not, as can be understood named after the people (Popolo in italian meaning people...) but of the populi, poplar trees. Our brothers, the trees, have been cut down, but the name remains forever.
Well, anyway, lets go back to the first piazza, the Piazza Venezia. So, I was there waiting for a person of my heart. And I had enough time to look at the tourists and listen to their chatting. The cameras ticking and tacking focusing on the Vittoriano, which lurks, white and (for me) ugly, on the gentle piazza. It is the unliked (by Romans) symbol of the piedmontese power in the Rome of the Popes. White marble under the sun, sad under the rain. Infact it is a tomb. The tomb of the unknown soldier. But, up and down, the flight of stairs go the happy tourists thinking, maybe, that the white temple dates back to the Roman Empire and not, as it is, to the eighteen hundreds... "Mom, who is that man on the horse?", I heard a little girl ask her mother. And the lady, admiring the wedding cake (this is how the Romans used to call the Vittoriano...) answered: "I don't know, but it must be an emperor or a king or something like it..." 

martedì 12 febbraio 2013

Do as Romans do

The sky was a dark orange blanket thrown over a dark, glum Rome, yesterday evening. The Pope had resigned in the morning and the skyes, in their sad gloom, seemed to cry out all their concern and bleak despair in the long, dark afternoon that followed the news from the Vatican. Here I am, waiting for the bus number 85, on the large via Taranto, swept by a nasty, soaken wind that pours on my poor shoes and coat, all the misery and joy of this new beginning. Because, and I am sure of this,  this is a new benìginning for the Church and for the times to come. And while I run to my darling bus that opens its doors like a mother hugs her little child, my memory flies back to the morning. I am alone in the house, pottering around, from one room to the other, like a bouncing ball, waiting for a chinese friend, when all of a sudden (or maybe it was the holy ghost), at a few minutes to twelve, I say to mysef, isn't it a fine time to have a look at the news? And what news! I barely believe what I am reading and I ring my husband who is buying bread and water in the little shop next door. "It's a joke!", he says. But then, in a minute, he is upstairs and on the phone. No joke, no science fiction. This is life, true and sound, the one that goes flickering, through days and nights, changing what we can see, but never that which is essential. Rome, my dear Rome, saw it all, many times over. All must change because all must stay the same, said the old prince of Salina in the magnificent novel "The Lepard". I smile at the good and wait until tomorrow for another day to come, with sun and rain. Do as Romans do.