I've gone on often enough about how the only way to manage life in Rome is to get the hell out of it! And we are trying to do that more and more but there are times when a weekend in the city can have its own rewards.
Sunday morning we headed into Centro at around 1000 to meet our friends Walter & Robert and Larry & Vincenzo at Caravita, an English-language parish just near Piazza Venizia.
The Palazzo Rinuccini faces Venizia at the entrance to Corso, the main shopping street that joins Piazza Venizia to Piazza di Popolo, and was the residence of Maria-Letizia Ramolino Buonoparte, Napoleon's mother, after her son's fall. She lived there from 1815 until her death in 1836 at the age of 86. Much of her time, even after the onset of blindness, was spent on the green shuttered balcony overlooking the Piazza.
After mass we headed over to Il Barroccio on Via dei Pastini for a nice leisurely lunch: Cured meats and sausages, mozzarella, grilled eggplant and zucchini, a vegetable-chocked Rubatela, lamb stuffed pasta with a light fresh pea-studded sauce, a very good Sicilian red, a slice of confetti cake and a glass of amaro. And much laughter and a bit of carry-on.
After lunch we strolled down to see what was happening in Piazza della Rotonda and found the area around the Pantheon crowded with Sunday strollers and tour groups. There really doesn't appear to be an "off-season" for tourism these days in Rome. Next week, with the beginning of Holy Week, will be madness. I think we'll just avoid Centro or better yet get out of town.
And of course if your going to wear the uniform of the Polizia Municipale its always best to fashion accessorise with trendy red-framed glasses but do hide that cigarette in the palm of your hand just in case the Commissairio walks by.
When Pius VII had them proclaim his glory for restoring the Pantheon and major work on the Piazza, I'm not sure he was thinking of the Macdonald's that would be installed there two centuries later. He was the Pope who, though having been kidnapped and held for six year by the French, asked for better treatment for Napoleon on St. Helena. And he offered refuge in Rome to members of the Bonaparte family including Maria-Letizia. (I have to admit the Macdonald's sign is so unobtrusive that I missed it the first few times I was in the Piazza.)
If the crowds were bad at Rotondo the mob was worse at Giolitti, but service was quick, efficient and any wait was worth it.
What we were all after - the best gelato in Rome. Mine: a medio cornetto - half coffee-half pistachio. Larry's: the same but without the fattening cornetto! The world is a good place!
And to further prove that point the camellia tree outside the front door is in full bloom.
11 marzo - San Constantino