- Its been a hard winter here in Roma and spring has been a long time coming. It seems that it started raining sometime back in October and not a day went by without rain of some sort until this past week. Perhaps it was just a shower but often as not there were wild, almost tropical, thunder storms with pelting rain, high winds and wonderful displays of electric lightening. And thought the temperature rarely dips below zero the buildings hold that damp cold that marble and terra cotta seem to attract. At one point we witnessed the Tiber rising 50 feet overnight and almost breaching its banks here in the city. But we are not the only ones who got the stuffing knocked out of us - Venice had the worst Aqua Alta in 30 years, Palermo in Sicily had snow and not just a light dusting - it stayed, Calabria was battered by storms that cause mud slides, cargo boats were ripped from moors in Genova and the north had record snow falls that were great for skiing but hell for driving.
And as I mentioned spring has not been in any hurry to show up - after having stored the winter blankets away two weeks ago I found myself hustling them out Easter weekend. And this past week we have been using a space heater to warm the bedroom area as heat is turned off in most buildings come April 15. One sad effect of the deluges and late spring is that the wisteria that climbs so many buildings is not as lush as it was last year. But today it seems like spring is finally here - please god I'm not tempting fate by saying it.
- Strange item in today's il Giornale with the leader: Stop the anarchy of take-away! It appears that the governing Legge Nord Party in Lombardy is closing down kabob and donair restaurants in the region. Before anyone could jump to conclusions they issued a statement saying: It isn't racism, its a matter of public health. Racism - the Legge, my goodness who would ever make that assumption. And just to make sure they say they're going to do the same to take-out pizza places and gelato stands. Meanwhile editorials and letters to the editor are mocking the move, comedians are having a field day and a several eat-ins have been planned with the cry: Kabobs for Free! Kabobs for All! You would think that with a country in crisis there would be more important things for politicians to busy themselves with than Kabobs but apparently not.
- It was a little unsettling last year when Mr Berlusconi said that the army would replace the Caribinari standing guard over Embassies and Ambassadors' residences. His expressed reasoning was that the Cabribinari could then go about their real business of catching bad guys and Mafia chiefs. The army boys - and anyone under 21 I consider a boy - are dressed in camouflage and carry machine guns. As our friend Robert said when this first came about: getting the public use to seeing the army in the streets is a tactic not unknown in Italy in the last century. Most of the young lads at the Residence near us will nod in greeting as they get to know that you live in the neighborhood, in fact I was surprised that one actually cracked a joke with me last Saturday night. I was coming home around 9 pm with a bouquet of tulips for Laurent's arrival and a big, burly, young private gave me a big smile and said: For me, you shouldn't have! We all had a good laugh.
But one thing I've noticed when it rains - even just a sprinkle - the boys run for cover in the jeep parked nearby. Do their uniforms run if they get wet? Would that matter with camis? Has the government not issued them rain wear? And who's protecting the Ambassador while they're snug and warm?