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Thriving in Rome

October 4, 2012

Now a new school year in Rome begins. After a seven-hour flight, most of which was spent reading a fat novel hurriedly bought at the airport and craning my neck to watch Men in Black III on the screen above my head, I am happy to report that we have arrived. That jet lag is at a minimum. And that this houseful of friars here at Nicolo Quinto seems to be settling in well to the new year.

It’s nice to return to Italy, especially with people who haven’t lived here before and who are seeing its beautiful cities and countrysides for the first time. As we flew into Rome early Monday morning you could see the sprawling maze of the city along the coastline, dull earth colors next to the dull gray sea. Then we landed — the sun broke through the horizon — and Italy came to life. A taxi ride and some much-needed espresso later, the gang had assembled at Convento San Francesco, and all we needed to do was stay awake for another ten hours and enjoy ourselves.

Which we did, amid the details of getting ourselves “systematized”, as the Italians put it. What with new phone cards, new bus passes, and new school subscriptions to obtain, and the inevitable permesso di soggiorno (the permission slip to live in Italy for those arriving for the first time) to fill out, these days have been busy. And warm. It’s strange to leave the late September breeziness of Boston for Rome’s sunny, bright October. But to move is to adjust. To adjust is to change. To change is to live. Therefore.

Someone pointed out to me some of the unusual things that go on here, which I guess I’ve gotten used to and so it’s a welcome opportunity to notice them again. For one thing, there are a lot of religious in this place. A lot. In habits, and everything. Where else can you go where a hundred sisters unloading off of three buses in the middle to the city never even lifts an eyebrow? Well, Malta, possibly, but that is for out Maltese brethren to describe. In any case, it is a welcome sight.

Also: we don’t refrigerate milk. This had escaped my notice until one of the friars mentioned it. I should explain — we buy milk by the half-liter bottle, or something, and we put some in the fridge and the rest get stacked in the closet. Why it doesn’t spoil in the closet is one of those mysteries of science. But it doesn’t.

Maybe milk thrives better in the Italian climate. At least I know I do.


From → Musings

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