- There are several types of Police roaming around the street of Rome and Italy in general. I’ve already mentioned the Guardia di Finanze but we have at least four other Officers standing on guard for us. The Polizia Municipale (Municipal Police) who handle traffic and minor crimes in town, Commissariato di Pubblico Sicurezza (Commissariat of Public Safety) who investigate the big stuff like murders, robberies, kidnappings, the Carabinieri (National Police) whose duties seem vague but include guarding Embassies and National interests and the Polizia Stradale (Highway Police) who patrol the main highways. And wonder of wonders each department has its own bureaucratic organization to look after its concerns. Imagine my surprise when told that there is a good deal of in-fighting and territorial squabbling.
29 Agosto – Martirio San Giovanni Battista
- The North American way of death is generally unknown in Italy. Funeral homes, embalming, the three day laying-out have no part in how death is dealt with by most Italian families. Our friend Linda attended her husband’s cousin’s funeral earlier this week in one of the good-sized towns just outside Rome. The body had been washed and dressed by relatives, placed in a coffin in the main room of the family home, processed to the church for a requiem and interred – all within two days. The few flowers around the coffin were highly fragrant – Linda says for the obvious reason. The women in town, and a few of the men, had cooked for the family and would do so for a day or two after – allowing the family home and hearth to be returned to normal. Laurent’s grandfather was an undertaker in Montreal back between the two Great Wars and he remembers him saying that embalming was only for the rich. From what I recall of the cost of my mother’s funeral I would say today in North America it is for the rich or the well-insured but I’m still not sure I could handle the Italian way of death.
30 Agosto – Santa Faustina
- One thing I’ve noticed on the bus in the mornings is that almost no one is attached to an I-Pod or MP3 player. Nor is it a common sight on the street. I asked one of my teachers about it. “It is so anti-social,” Simone stated with a small shudder that summed up her distain for anything so barbaric. And after watching the four women – in three different rows – having an animated discussion on the bus yesterday I think she may have a point. How would they have settled the question about the ugly boots (Gladiator strap black stilettos) the woman who just got off was wearing if they were plugged into the Best of Eros?
1 Settembre – San Egidio
- The two gypsy women (see below) have not been at our main intersection the past few days – I figured it just wasn’t a very profitable stretch so they had moved on. But a friend tells me that, starting this week, squeegee people are facing a Euro 900 fine (around 1300.00 Canadian) or three months in jail if arrested. Of course most of them don’t have the 900, so jail it is! Problem is that Italian jails are overcrowded as it is and as year end approaches there is a suspicion that three months free room and board may be better than washing car windows on the damp, chilly winter streets of Rome.
6 Settembre – San Umberto