But two weeks ago I went out. I noticed that day, for the umpteenth time, what a nice place Rome can be. Although it is Italy's biggest city, its atmosphere is not what I would call chaotic. It's almost tranquil. It's no small town, but it still feels like a neighborly community.
During my first month here, I had taken the tram over the river to visit a potential language school. In the middle of Piazza del Risorgimento, where I was awaiting Tram 19 to take me home, I watched homeless man plodding along. Before long he stopped, sat down on the ground, and then lay flat on his back, as if giving up the ghost. It was a very hot day, but he lay down in the sun and not in the shade. Not normal behavior, to say the least. Barely had I though all these thoughts, when two women and one man approached the scene. They found a bottle of water and began to revive him. They sprinkled water in his face and then actually forced him to drink. I was impressed that they’d take such action with a stranger, who was not directly their responsibility.
Last Sunday was another example of neighborly behavior in the city of Rome. I was supposed to meet some friends for a walk around the city. I set out early to find a nice café to pass some time and have a cappuccino. I stopped at one nearby my house, which I have walked past dozens of times but never had time to try. The only other customer present when I came in was a rather ancient lady who had dressed herself up and come down for Sunday morning breakfast. The barista and owner were treating her with the utmost respect (something else I love to see in Italy is the courtesy towards women and elderly people -- and when you combine those two groups and add a religious habit, wow! I wish you could have been on the tram on afternoon when my friend and I got on with a group of nuns. People were literally jumping out of their seats and insisting that the sisters sit down.) The owner had just brought over a bag of fresh fruit for her. I decided to sit down, too, even though it usually costs more than standing at the bar.
This is the cappuccino I received. Look at the fancy chocolate pattern on top! This doesn't happen in a more crowded bar. When I got up to pay, the man at the register whom I presumed to be the owner told me to wait and then fetched me a fresh, ripe persimmon! (My favorite! I didn't know that they grew in Italy, but I have since enjoyed them several times.) He also only charged me one euro for the cappuccino at the table! Sunday morning special? I said to myself that I would go back, but so far the opportunity hasn’t presented itself. And now I’m house-bound, at least for a couple more days. Perhaps I that's how I will celebrate: a return to Caffé Fontana.
Hopefully those anecdotes were able communicate a bit of the charm that Rome holds for me. Just look how happy I am to be here! (This was one week before being hit with the plague. I may never look like this again...)