Today could be characterized as a shopping day. When I woke up this morning, I didn't have any idea of the extent of it. (I also didn't have any idea that daylight savings had ended, meaning I woke up at 8 instead of at 9. I got a great start to my free day!)
It was Emi's last full day in Rome and she had made plans with Léa and Elise (two other French au pairs whom we know through the kids' school) to go to the Porta Portese Market. It's a typical Italian outdoor market, where you can find everything: from kitchen and gardening supplies to clothes and cosmetics -- and everything in between. It's held every Sunday morning. What makes Porta Portese unique is that it's so big. I went for the first time last summer with my cousin Anna and have returned twice, but I still haven't seen all of it.
|The actual gate from which the market gets its name.|
|One of the prettier avenues of stalls.|
|My shopping companions Emi, Léa, and Elise, who were were nice enough to smile even though I surprised them with the camera.|
Then, I bought a pendant that I'd been thinking about for a long time. It's a little silver sphere (they come in different sizes, but mine is about half an inch in diameter) with a tiny bell inside. If you hold it up to your ear and shake it, you can hear it tinkling. They say it's calling the angels to come and protect you. It's a cute idea and (at least I think) it's a pretty necklace. You can find some version at almost every jewelry stand in every market or street corner.
My next purchase was a pair of really beautiful silver elephant earrings. The Indian man selling them said they were from Bombay, but I can't really be sure. He was also flirting with me and asking if I had a boyfriend in Rome, etc. etc. etc. He said he they cost twelve euro ("special discount for you, because you are bella and speak Italian so well"). I said I could pay eight and he said no, ten euro was the best he could do. I said I would think about it and come back later. Then he said okay, just because I was so beautiful he could give it to me for eight. I hope you are joining me in laughing out loud. And I hope you are just as excited as I am at the successful haggle!
I also bought some inexpensive trinkets like white scarf with a lacy border and a couple of silver bead bracelets. Writing about it now, I feel kind of self-indulgent. Maybe the next time I go to Porta Portese I will buy presents for other people! It's almost Christmas shopping season, after all.
After shopping for several hours we were all very hungry -- and cold. It was one of the first cold days I've experienced in Rome so far. I guess it is almost November, about time. We got some pizza near the Trevi Fountain (one of Emi's favorite places in Rome) and since it was cheaper to do carry-out rather than sit in the restaurant, we searched for some nice steps to sit on. We ended up on the Quirinal Hill, right outside the presidential residence, and settled down (more like huddled, it was so cold) to enjoy our meal.
|Outisde the Palazzo del Quirinale.|
That's when we noticed the Polizia di Stato, black escort cars, and shiny motorcycles. It was a presidential motorcade! Unfortunately, when President Napolitano finally emerged, I was fumbling with my camera and ended up with a lousy video and no actual sighting. Bummer. But the other girls saw him, and it was cool enough to be in the general vicinity.
After warming ourselves with coffee, we headed back through the center of town, passing directly in front of the Trevi Fountain. I took this picture to show how crowded it can be, even on a cold afternoon in October. I remember that the first time I came here, I was so surprised. The photos you see on calendars and postcards don't really reflect the chaotic setting of this beautiful landmark.
|What the fountain looks like in real life.|
|What the fountain looks like on postcards.|
|What the fountain looks like with friends. (Photo credit: Elise)|
We finished the day by walking up Via del Corso and makings stops in multiple shops along the way. I refrained from making any more purchases, but we did get some free Ritter Sport at Tezenis! The chocolate sustained us through the cold, dark, wet streets until we were forced to say goodbye and go our separate ways. I'm so thankful for these girls and the wonderful day we spent together. I will miss you, Emi!