Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Roman Swedish Days - Part I

Yesterday I ended up being so busy that I skipped my daily entry. Had to happen sooner or later, I suppose.

Anyway, after a busy and not particularly pleasant morning, I got out from office early to meet 7 people from ELSA Stockholm in visit for an exchange (technically speaking, a Bilateral Study Visit) with ELSA Rome. I got to know about it late (ELSA Rome is not particularly well organized lately), but as soon as I did, i offered myself to give them an introductory tour of the city, something I grew pretty apt to doing it over and over again in the last year.

The tour is always, more or less, the same. Starting from Piazza del Popolo, taking Via del Babbuino, Piazza di Spagna, Via del Corso, Piazza Colonna, Piazza della Rotonda (where th ePantheon is), Piazza Santa Maria sopra Minerva, Piazza Navona, Campo dei Fiori e Piazza Farnese. All in all, around 3 kms of marching that gives the chance of saying a lot of things about roman history, curiosities and legends.

So there I was, not even vaguely knowing who to look for once in Piazza del Popolo, when I accidentally bumped, almost literally, with my guests, 5 girls and 2 guys, who, apparently were shown a picture of me (I do not even want to think about it). Now, if I were expecting a group of tall, platinum blond, blue eyed people, I was definitely wrong. Tall they, mostly, were, but to confirm a recent study that predict the blonds extinction within 2100, only one was light haired. Fact is, Sweden successfully integrated a lot of people over the last years (but they totally failed, or so was my impression when I was in Malmoe, with northern african and arabs) and that was shown by the fact that 3 of them only were "swedish-swedish", while one of the girl was Ukrainan, another had both parents from Poland, another was half Swedish half Romanian, and I wouldn't be surprised if the fourth girl had russian ancestors.

So, 2 and a half hours later, under an almost summer-time sun (we were reaching 30 degrees yesterday, and it wasn't easy going around with my usual, scooter, heavy jacket) we ended our tour, where I admittedly cut out much of the explanations seen their tired expressions, and headed for this new, very posh, place to have an happy hour, supposedly before heading to real dinner. Only, dinner had not been organized at all. I should had suspected as most of the italian girls presume that some snacks with a glass of wine can take place of a real dinner, without considering that people who have been up for more than 18 hours and walked probably around a dozen kms during the day might want something more when it comes to eating. And so I was, making calls to find a place for them to eat, which luckily, being a tuesday evening, didn't prove to be so hard. Eventually, I took the ones of them starving to my favourite restaurant, called l'Hosteria del Moro (if you happen to be in Rome, try their "filetto al pepe verde", it's delicious, buthave it just barely cooked or as we say "al sangue", or you'll ruin it), left them there recommending the owner to "treat them well for me" ("trattameli bene!", kind of typical) and back I walked where the other had stayed for another drink.

Later that evening, we managed to join again the two groups and we were even blesses by having two cars and a scooter (mine) so to being able to take the by now exhausted nordics to their respective hosts's houses. The one who came with me was more or less terrorized by having to drive on a scooter in the middle of "traffic" (when in fact there was almost no one in the streets... ah, the relativity of human perception). And finally, at midnight, I managed to drag myself home, fully knowing that what I expected to be a light involvement in this little adventure was going to be turned out in a major one. Tomorrow, tour of the roman markets (the forum) and dinner all together at someone's house...

Question of the day: "Is it being a cardinal a kind of a job? How do they earn their living? Do they get a salary for being one?". I admit I didn't have a reply to the second and third question, I shall have to investigate the matter.

Impressive: This girl of the swedish group, Kristine (the one panicking about the scooter), who arrived on sunday and must have walked at least 40 kms by herself in the last two days to "look around the city". Not only, she also knew why it doesn't usually rain thro the Pantheon's ceiling's hole (no, I ain't telling).

Cultural discovery of the day: Swedish don't kiss on the cheeks as a welcome and parting greeting, they think it's too intimate, and they prefer hugging. As a full body contact can be considered less intimate than a single kiss on the cheek is somewhat a mystery, unless we consider that at their temperatures most of the times they are covered with furs or bulky jackets so thick they wouldn't had noticed if they were hugging a human being or a bear. I suppose.

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