Friday, September 17, 2010

Do Me a Favour!

“No good deed goes unpunished” I was reminded of this once again as I nearly came a cropper on my bike, whilst dropping off a bottle of Prosecco for a friend, as a favour, last week. As I pushed my cycle across a pedestrian crossing, barely a chalky trace of which remained visible on the tarmac, I encountered the most deadly of all hybrids: Roman white-van man. As he edged his way around a corner, his wheels finally crunched to a halt as my bike disappeared underneath them. Clearly my high-visibility cycling outfit, namely blond hair and a short skirt, generally more effective than top-to-tail dayglow, had failed me on this occasion. After the obligatory post-prang phase of shouting and pointing, a period of giggling led to my climbing up into the passenger seat of the big white van and being driven way across town, crumpled pile of metal spokes thrown into the back en-route to “Simone 88” my bike repair shop.  As we inched our way through the traffic along the Tiber what little remained of my British reservedness frustratingly refused me permission to quiz the driver with as many direct questions as he was firing at me.  As we swung round past Castel Sant’Angelo, I caught sight of a familiar street performer: “The Grim Reaper” I remembered him from the afternoon before, his costume bodged together with long strips of brown parcel tape, menacingly extracting offerings from jet-lagged tourists and lovers dangerously entwined on the wall above the Tiber. I recalled the sinister look he threw me and how he stared threateningly at the rear section of my bike as I paused to look at the castle, hands firmly on my handlebars, not fidgeting for change in my bag.  Maybe I would have been wise to have thrown him a coin..

A couple of hours later, after thanking Roman white-van man for his abundant humanness in transporting me and offering to pay for my sparkling new back wheel, I headed back across the city , the mid-afternoon sun’s army of rays marching straight for me. The secret of surviving a Roman sun attack is to take shelter along the Tiber, in the shade of the trees, with an ice-cold grattachecca (granita) purchased from one of the city’s characteristic kiosks dotted along Lungotevere. A glass full of ice shavings with fruit juice drizzled on top is a really pleasurable way to ward off dehydration, especially those which use real fruit potions rather than sweet syrups. In Puglia this summer, my favourite cooling-down drink was “The’ freddo con granita al limone”: a glass of chilled tea with a generous helping of lemon sorbet floating in it. Try it out: D i v i n e!

As I sat by the Tiber with my lemon grattachecca, I deliberated over my current choice of transport.  Maybe I could start fighting back on a Vespa, then I would really start to feel like a galloping knight not an easily dispensable pawn with a piddling bell. But could I really cope in the motorized league? Had I become "Roman" enough yet?  Michelangelo and Raphael had managed to survive on a bike but then again they didn’t have to negotiate Roman white-van man or maybe they just concentrated on their Papal commissions, avoided street performers and never did favours for their friends. 

Granita recommendations:
La Vie en Rose, Nice French Art Cafe, Via del Pellegrino 127 (280 bus along the Tiber, 10 mins walk from Castel San’Angelo, behind Piazza Farnese)
Grattachecche Kiosk: Ponte Cavour by the fountain. Real fruit potions. 
Alla Fonte D'Oro: Piazza GG Belli, Trastevere Ancient Grattachecche. Pieces of fruit in syrup. (Tram 8 , get off by the Tiber.)

Bike Sales and Bike Repair Shop: Simone 88, Porta Portese.  Tell Simone " La bionda straniera" sent you and then haggle for a discount (Tram 3 to Trastevere Station, get off by the Tiber)

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


  1. Maybe the Grim Reaper gave you a "fattura" which means invoice or bad luck in Italian!

  2. It sounds more like it was your mighty steed that should have tipped the GR as it was he/she that came a cropper! Do take more care, SuperAli. Through your posts I am slowly plucking up the courage to try a return visit to Rome... So don't stop!

  3. Gianluca: I think the problem was I didn't pay his invoice.
    Status: Please come back, it's quite safe, one just has to remember where they are in the pecking order every time they approach a road. Pedestrians are at the bottom...

  4. Hi Superali, interesting blog & good post. overall You have beautifully maintained it, you must submit your site for free in this website which really helps to increase your traffic. hope u have a wonderful day & awaiting for more new post. Keep Blogging!