Saturday, September 22, 2018

Reflections From Roma #10

Reflections From Roma #10
21 settembre 2018

Hello there… Rodger French here.

It doesn’t happen as often as you might imagine, but living in Roma does occasionally result in one having an experience that is picturesque to the point of being cinematic. Permit me…

A scheduling conflict resulted in Anne tending to bidness in Trieste (which is pretty scenic in its own right) at the same time that an old friend, with whom I had worked on some major musical/theatrical endeavors “back in the day,” was visiting Roma with her partner, whom I had never met. (OK, I think that’s clear.) In any case, I arranged to meet at their hotel for drinks and dinner.

[Inertial Dampening Sidebar- This was on a Tuesday evening - a “school night.” I dread going out on school nights, especially without A.J. But that was the deal.]

The hotel was downtown, near the ZOmbie Tourist Apocalypse™, in a neighborhood unfamiliar to me. After close consultation with Signore Google, I decided to take a bus to Piazza Venezia and walk from there. The bus experience was typical: Not too crowded to begin with, but increasingly packed as we neared the ZOTA™.

Arriving at IlMonumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II (in my clever disguise as un tourista gringo) and relying on my (più o meno) accurate map, I managed to get within one block of the hotel, at which point I saw (I) a sign on the building façade and (II) my friend leaning out a 3rdfloor window waving me in. This boded very well indeed.

We greeted, we hugged, we laughed… it was so great to see her again. Since our dinner reservation was for a later hour, we popped by a market, picked up some drinks, and repaired to their (charming) hotel, where she introduced me to her partner, who is also an accomplished musician and a very cool guy. The three of us fell into easy conversation until it was time for dinner.

It was a beautiful settembre Roman evening as we strolled through the back streets to the restaurant, a typical place that serves good food at a reasonable price and was, not unexpectedly, full of tourists, many of them Italians.

[PicturesqueLandmark Sidebar- Walking to our restaurant, we passed a small place - not even a piazza - where we came upon a single, grande, and ancient Roman column. No plaque, no sign, no indication whatsoever of its provenance or purpose. I love that.]

We ordered several yummy items and commenced to talk about… well, the usual catching-up-on-a-lot-in-a-short-time stuff. Which was great. But our conversation kept coming back to music. All three of us have been musicians forever and have accumulated a wealth of experiences and insights. We wandered into the weeds, as music geeks are wont to do, and shared one of the most substantial, connected, and fulfilling conversations about music and what it means to be a musician that I have ever had. It was an absolute joy. And I not only caught up with an old friend, but also made a new one.

[Cinematic Sidebar #1- During this lovely communication, we were intermittently entertained by: An enthusiastic running club, a parade of young Italians on a big night out, and a cavalcade of gringo tourists on Segways. At night. Which is impossibly surreal.]

After dinner, we walked to Piazza Navona to get a taxi, where I threw some coins in the hat of a local - say it with me - accordion player. (I can relate. In 1980, I worked with some friends busking in that very place.) As my hosts had one more day in Roma and I had to go to work the next morning, we made our inevitable reluctant farewells, promising to keep in touch. And then, arrivederci.

[Cinematic Sidebar #2- The ride home was perfect. We motored stately through the Eternal City, past well-lit monuments, cruising the now less frenzied streets. All the taxi windows were open and the breeze was intoxicating. I luxuriated in the glow of good food and friendship. And I felt glad to be alive and proud to call myself un musicista.]

Not bad for a school night.



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