Friday, July 2, 2010

Surprise Surprise!

Who doesn’t love surprises? Well me, if the definition of a surprise is something you don’t see coming because who can predict outcomes which aren’t a result of the sane, reliable, logical methods employed and trusted all of one’s life?  The secret of becoming a new Roman is to visualise these alternative outcomes- little surprises as moments of magic which put a bemused smile on your face as opposed to a burning rage in your belly which can only be extinguished by downing a vat of prosecco.   

So here’s a number of things which no longer surprise me:
1) A nun dragging a bag of cement mix up a stairwell.
2) A spontaneous transport strike on a scorching hot Friday, only hours after defending champions Italy crash out of the world cup in the humiliating company of  Switzerland and Greece.  Plenty of wound licking on nearby sandy beach!
3) The last bus hurtling out of Piazza San Silvestro, a good five minutes ahead of its scheduled departure, driver intent on flattening anyone desperate enough to try and board it. 
4)Roman parents throwing themselves over their children in shops, buses and airports in a fit of panic.  It's not a gun being brandished but the remote control for the air conditioning and Romans are terrified of air-con.
5)Three-for-two specials in the local supermarket which a closer inspection of till receipt discloses the offer only applies to members of the supermarket. Note to Superali: Join supermarket not gym!

And things which still surprise me:
1) The ridiculous price of basic shampoo and hygiene products when compared to Rome’s shockingly low average wage. Is the government adding supertax to maximise profits on a prime Roman weakness: Vanity? Secret: never buy anything in a pharmacy. 
2) Bumping into two partially sober, kilted Scotsmen outside my apartment, fencing with Italian flags they have just purchased from white-van man parked by the Tiber.
3) Fireworks being propelled spectacularly out of a canon on top of Castel Sant’ Angelo to celebrate St Peter ‘s and St Paul’s Day, the two Roman saints. Spectacularly propelled the day before the actual saints day, so missed it once again. I heard it from my kitchen but thought they were just practicing.
4) The complete ban on buying alcohol from bars or supermarkets anywhere in Rome when an English football team, or more specifically Manchester United F.C. are playing at the Olympic stadium.  Of course this is in theory; denying Romans liquid pleasure while their city is crawling with bare-breasted Anglo-Saxons suffering from special-brew-induced sunstroke seems a little rash.
 5) The fact that Romans love Wall’s Viennetta.  How can this be possible when real Italian ice cream is never more than a cone’s throw away from anyone? I’d rather eat the box than milk and sugar sculpted by a multinational.

Sometimes the surprises are indeed magical and not a result of “Special Roman Logic” as I generally refer to it.  Last week as I cycled out of the dreamlike Borghese Gardens near my home, I reached the Tempietto di Minerva and found it floating in a flock of inflatable geese.  They were neither art, nor for sale. Nobody was asking for money, nor filming them. They were just there for the sake of beauty and surprise, the type of surprise I love!
Borghese Gardens: Metro A. Flaminio.

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TO POSTS VIA FEED. Ice cream's on me in Rome!


  1. Awesome! Great photo of the adorable geese surprise - reminds me of the last day of high school one year when the front lawn of the school was covered entirely in plastic pink flamingos. Happiness! Che bella sorpresa certo!


  2. When something beautiful and illogical is just so unexpected, it does bring instant happiness. The timing was strange too as I'd just been speaking to a friend who had lost her beloved old pet geese unexpectedly....

  3. Amusing post which I guess seeing those geese prompted. I agree with so much you had to say and found myself laughing. Thankyou for sharing your thoughts.

  4. You're welcome Lindy. In Rome there's always a lot to talk about especially when we possess a British angle. It's all very interesting.

  5. SuperAli! My last post but one shows some things that rival even the fibreglass cows! I won't paste the link here in case it clogs things up...

  6. Indeed, very amusing. As a native of Rome but someone who has the pleasure of meeting tourists from all over the world on a regular basis, some of the little things like this still surprise me! But then, I think I'm becoming a little more modernized than some.

    We certainly do have our idiosyncrasies (in many ways more so than other countries or cultures), but in my opinion that's what makes a trip here so worth it. You never know what you'll encounter, there's always a lot to learn and it makes for great entertainment in many cases!