Thanks goodness February’s round the corner.
The year started with a bang, but it wasn’t the fireworks we’d prepared. The basement of the building right across the alley erupted in sky-high roaring flames, and there went our celebrations. It was scary until the firemen turned up – if it had spread, a large tree was waiting right there to connect the fire to our building. Standing in the street and gawking with champagne in hand would have been very bad form. Setting off fireworks would have been even worse. So it put quite a downer on our “Happy New Year” moment. Besides, my seven percent Asian DNA kicks in sometimes: fireworks at New Year’s for good luck and to scare off nasty spirits makes lots of sense to me. My S.O. who hails from Naples beats me: Naples is one of the world’s most superstitious places, and starting the year without fireworks is a real no-no-no.
In Italian they say: ”Il buon giorno si vede dal mattino” – loosely translated, whatever way your day starts is how the whole day’s going to pan out. I guess months are the same. Some theories try to sound more scientific and explain it with positive/negative energy. I read that five planets are in alignment since last Saturday, if you’re an early riser you can catch them in the morning twilight. Sounds great, but I’d have thought something like that would bring on good strong vibes?
In fact, it’s been a wishy-washy series of non-starts on work projects, house and car-related breakdowns, illness in the family, friends from abroad not visiting last minute because they forgot to renew their passports, losing my own ID. January plods along anyway, and I realized it’s not just us.
Rome is in disarray.
Though it’s supposed to welcome hordes of pilgrims for the Vatican “Jubilee Year”, roadworks and revamps are far behind schedule or won’t even be contemplated as we’re also Mayor-less in the midst of mafia and corruption issues. Piazza della Repubblica, one of the first large ones you’ll probably see as you exit the central train station is normally stunning, specially at night. Right now it looks like a comet struck a perfect bull’s eye on its central fountain. It should be covered in “Sanpietrini”, the little square cobblestones that are so typical and historical but a menace for motorcyclists. They’re not a problem now as they’ve been piled up into huge random pyramids all over the piazza. The piazza also normally functions as a main hub for buses and cars to zoom around on in all directions, now it’s a one-laner interrupted by construction trucks, so I leave it to your imagination…
Pilgrims by definition walk. For the Jubilee Year, they’re ideally meant to visit a number of main churches, and the hardiest or more eco-conscious pilgrims were probably hoping to do it all on foot. But apparently the works on the pedestrian paths which are far simpler and less expensive to smooth out have gone nowhere, and the city’s worried it could be sued by visitors with sprained ankles or worse, broken bones if they’ve been run over after venturing off the sidewalks onto the better asphalted street.
Our world famous metropolitana subway – 2 lines for a city of 4.3 million- has broken down umpteen times since the beginning of the year.
But being gridlocked in traffic does have its upsides, like finding out what’s going on in this city: the most efficient ads are stuck on the rear ends of public buses, so you have lots of time to read whatever they’re advertising as you honk and snail your way through the town. These days it’s a new political party for the Municipal elections that will be held sometime later in the year. Their symbol looked like a big red broken heart with Rome inside it, which is apt but pretty kitsch.
On a lighter note, I’ve managed to keep above the blog-fray in the whole New Year’s Resolutions thing so far, or rather given myself an alibi by reading everyone else’s. So to shake off all this apathy, I’m going to end the month with a bang and a little trip to Bologna and Florence.
I’ll be sharing my delight and hopefully a few photos in a few days.
Meantime, I’m curious to hear if anyone’s happy too that February’ll be upon us in no time?