Tom, here, reporting now that I’ve adjusted to my class schedule.
I’m glad we’re going to be here for a month. I feel like we’ve just now begun to adjust to the Italian way of doing so many things–like throwing your “organic” trash into bins, but all of your other trash onto the side of the street designated by the fact that everyone else’s trash is there, in a big pile, smelly, and attracting loud seagulls early in the morning. Let’s face it: there’s a lot of organic trash that people (including us) do not sort out of their trash-bags. Placing our trash on the side-street near our apartment felt positively criminal. But, they collect it, which is more than can be said for Naples, eh?
Anyway, Nicole finds better markets every day, and gets more adept at finding what we need to make food in this city, while I hunt the streets for a few specific items for which Rome is well-known. First and foremost, I want a good pen. Ok, Rome isn’t famous for pens. But apparently pen collectors like this city because it has good pen shops. My problem is that I want a good pen, not a fancy pen. I don’t want a fountain pen with gilt edges, a platinum-cap, and the ability to write upside-down in space. I want a pen that writes well so I can stop taking notes in pencil. Something in the family of the Rollerball G2 or Sharpie pen would be fine. It can look a bit more elegant than that, but I don’t need a fancy pen. Rome excels at fancy pens. The Cartoleria around here smell of paper and leather, which always attracts me thinking they will also have pens. Instead, they have pens like Seville has swords–for show. No one would ever take a sword from the famous sword shops in Seville and cleave someone’s head off (in self-defense) because the swords are made to mount on your wall. I want a workhorse pen, and–were I a knight-errant–I would want a workhorse sword. We all know the pen is mightier, but is the pretty-boy pen really mightier? So, in my walks between school and our apartment, which usually takes me near Campo de Fiori, the Pantheon, and Piazza Navona, I have yet to find a bookstore or cartoleria or even a pen-shop that sells a good pen that writes well for a long time.
The second thing that Rome, or really all of Italy, is known for is pipes. Unofrtunately, in the old city center, this jacks up the prices for pipes. I have yet to make it to a great looking pipe and pen (good for them, combining two passions of mine into one store) called Regali Novelli, but I’m afraid their prices alone will make me only a window shopper. Plus, I’m afraid they only stock pretty-boy pens. The pipes are nice, but I might actually pay less in America. We shall see. I shall update on the progress of the pipe.
And lastly, I’m looking for a couple specific books. Nicole and I have already found a couple great bookstores near the Vatican that we like to browse, but in general Amazon has made it such that we’ll buy most of our new books there, and we try to buy rarely. What I need is not even available on Amazon (shocking, I know), though it is available on Italian Amazon. I want two books for teaching Greek that are written in Greek. Geeky, I know. Now that you’re done rolling your eyes, realize how hard this will be for me to find. Thankfully, the man who wrote the books and publishes them lives near Rome, so this is my best chance at buying the books new for a reasonable price. Still, in my meanderings home from school, I have yet to find a bookstore that stocks a good Latin and Greek section, much less the exact book for which I’m hunting. Perhaps I’ll have more luck near the Vatican.
And finally, I would like to add that we have yet to use any form of public transportation here. In part, this is a good sign. We are close enough to many things to walk, especially the Vatican neighborhood, Trastevere, and the “Historic Center/Storico Centro” everything from Piazza Navona to the Forum. We also live on a one way street, heading away from a lot of the famous far-away stuff (Spanish Steps, Barberini, etc…). To rectify this, we planned to pick a bus that we thought would be helpful, according to the map and the schedule, and ride it for its entire loop. So we picked these cute little electric busses that trundle down our street and throughout Trastevere and the Historic Center. Well, according to Google and the official website for Italian public transit, four of these busses stop right near our house every hour. Google Maps will even try to help you by giving you the approximate times the busses supposedly stop at the given fermata. So, we put Lucy in her stroller (which she isn’t a big fan of), and rolled up to the bus stop, where the sign clearly said the bus we wanted operated every day from 7am-midnight. As I’m sure you guessed by now, that bus (little 125) never came. We waited as long as Lucy would let us keep her in the stroller (a bit over half an hour). In that time, two busses should have come. Furthermore, not a single bus arrived of the FOUR busses that supposedly were to stop there on a regular basis. Half an hour…no busses. I felt like we were standing at a supermarket waiting for a train to arrive. We have month-long passes to all the public transit in this city, and it’s just faster for us to walk. So, Rome, you have bested us again, and we will ride your public transit someday. Someday. And now, the bambina: