If someone had said to me, just two weeks ago, “you’ll be writing your next blog from a rooftop terrace in Rome” I’d be saying, “You’re joking! I wish!” Well, wishes do come true and guess where I am: On the gorgeous rooftop of a magnificent 17th C building, in the heart of ancient Rome, with my computer on a beautiful, clear and warm Autumn evening. Pinch me!
Have you been to Rome lately? I hadn’t been in 18 years. And before that, it was another 18 years. So when the opportunity came up, a quick visit wedged between our shopping for the store in the South of France and our Paris based trips with clients, I couldn’t say “si si” fast enough. We were invited to pitch a top secret design project with a wonderful client and I’ve been fortunate to travel with one of their key people out of Paris.
We stepped off the plane, walked about 3 miles to our car and driver, dealt with traffic on the expressway and then landed 2,000 years ago, in the middle Rome. As a huge architecture buff, and a lover of all things (surprise!) crusty and crunchy, I am completely in awe. The architecture! The delicious sundrenched colors! The shape of the pine parasol trees, the majestic columns in a sea of stone! The contrasting pure blue sky! It’s all too much to drink in and has hardly prepared me for the piece de resistance, the 16th century Palace where our hosts have kindly put us up.
We entered through an 18 foot high door – one of thousands in Rome – that led us to a secret courtyard with frescoes from the 16th Century. Up the steepest stone steps I’ve ever encountered (paving the way for multiple gelatos!), we arrived at our beautifully appointed 3 bedroom apartment. Then all we needed was to mount the spiral staircase and ta da! Here is the most jaw droppingingly beautiful terrace in all of Rome, that extends the entire length of the apartment. We’re here on business, so we don’t have a lot of time to tour, which is not exactly a problem! No office will ever compare to working on this terrace, in the evening glow, listening to the church bells ring their vestpers or in the early morning light, before the bustle. Once we get over the view, I’m sure we’ll get a lot accomplished!
We’re pretty familiar with France so given their geographic proximity, Latin roots and shared Gallo-Roman history, I’ve always assumed a huge similarity between Italy and France, especially with the south of France. I’d forgotten that the further south you go, the louder and more boisterous it becomes, with exaggerated gestures, emotional outbursts and what to my ears sounds like anger is basic conversation in Rome, just a bit louder. There is a “tacka tacka tacka tacka tacka” rhythm that permeates Rome and comes across in all conversations, through gestures, through voice volume and intonations. What seems initially unsettling, “Are they mad at each other? Why are they yelling?” becomes utterly charming, when you realize it ends with a double kiss, a hug or a handshake. Ciao,amore!
And so, we’ve been drinking it all in : The sites, the smells, the constant chatter; the peeling plaster, faded textures, sundrenched colors and cobblestone pavers; the fashion, the gelato, the pasta and the bravura (signora, pretty eyes, you need a dolci – I have in the back, from my Mama, I bring you!); it’s a fascinating and flowing blend of what is so aptly called La Dolce Vita.
We are here for a purpose: Will we get the project? Stay tuned, and you’ll be the first to know.
P.S. If you’re curious about the beautiful apartment with the magnificent roof terrace that was the inspiration for this blog, here it is and available for rent. Charming! Gracioso!