Monday, March 12, 2012

Tasting 'il dolce far niente' in Rome ...

Even before I learnt my first lesson of Italian language or ate my first slice of Pizza , I knew few things about Rome . I mean other than the history and art stuff. These were images that came from the movies and books mostly . To sum up in three words the image of the city was Vespas- Vatican-Vino . Now several weeks old in this city I still make and revise my opinion about this place every day. It remains a puzzle and enigma for which solutions seems to be just on the tip of my tongue . It amazes me to no end how a city can be so much and much more . Every day I discover some or the other new aspects of the city which entirely changes the equation. But then there are few things you can’t miss when in Rome .

 Rome might have patronized world acclaimed great artists and musicians, painters and singers but there are two arts which most ordinary people practice to excellence- famous La Dolce Vita (The Sweet Life), and also Il dolce far niente ("Sweet Doing Nothing" or "Sweet Idleness"). The latter in fact is very curious. It’s not being lazy or indifferent . It means letting your senses be the guide, getting lost, immersing in the place and just watching it live and display, also being impressed by how much beauty can be created by so many non-planned aspects crammed and layered through the millennia.

To a Roman, to see and to be seen, to experience life to the fullest, to love and to be loved, are the very essence of living —and the Eternal City provides an enchanting venue in which to “do it all.” A distinctive feature of Rome in fact is that it throbs with life ticking every second with an enjoyable spirit of enthusiasm, innocence, intuition, improvisation and leisure. The beauty is that they have designed the entire city that way or actually the city has developed over many centuries like that . The ruins , the monuments and history are just the first few reasons to fall in love with this city ...and they are not even the best ones.

There are such crazy facts about Italy that speak for itself .I read in a travel magazine that in a country of approximately 58 million they have more than 63 million phones . An average italian eats 26 Kg bread per year but gulps down 26 gallons of wine per annum. While the Italian economy is at its lowest ebb, Trevi fountain still makes 3000 euros every day in coins. A crazy town where every third building is a church and every fourth is a pizzeria . But like any other great city- Rome grows on you. You love it despite its pickpocketers, its mindless drivers and its inefficiencies . City can be best described as the spaghetti twirled around a fork. It is built up on contradictions. It tastes best because its slippery . In this town, you get the best designer brands as well as their Chinese imitations side by side - one in showrooms other on the pavements . You see a confluence of a buzzing metropolis and a medieval town at almost every turn . You enter a non descript kind of lane and find yourself facing a most amazing church or palace. A very holy and serene church can have a most morbid crypt with sculptures made up of bones and sculls.

The city makes you feel like a greedy child in a candy store. You want to see every church, appreciate every painting, savour all colours and walk every street . But after you have a stomach fill of sights and smells.....all you can do is to sit down in a cafe and watch the town go by. The town reveals its new colours only then. Its only when you get over that compulsive sightseeing that you actually see the beauty of the Rome . The feeling is beyond words, much like the mix of gelati you learn to savour . It was only when I reached this stage that I realized the very sensible il dolce far niente . Its only then I noticed the beautiful white seagulls encircling all monuments and churches of Rome. It appears as if the angels have taken this form to savour the beauty of this place day in and out. Its only then I noticed how beautiful , how kind and how emotional people are .

They love and love the display of love . They can't talk without a very characteristic movement of hands, they can't step out of house without looking stylish enough to walk the ramp and they cannot help looking like Greek gods and goddesses despite their very modern dressing. And only when I was just about to think that I am the first one noticing all this, I read somewhere that "Rome will reward you as no other city can, by making you feel as all her visitors have for over two thousand years: that you are the first person to really understand and appreciate her, the only one truly worthy of her infinite charms."

This morning when I sat down near River Tiber looking at the vatican bridge on one side and a  streetful of tourists on the other ,  I realised that visitors love Rome precisely because it can do this to them, especially in a global era in which a hectic working pace makes us all forget the taste of life, and its facets. The city gives you an assurance that it will remain here for your next visit and the coin you threw in the fountain guarantees that there will be a next time.