An overcast sky, a crowded Pincio Terrace, Piazza del Popolo and the area behind the Pincio Terrace taken over by football, only the occasional glimpse of what I had in mind to photograph… it didn’t look promising at all.
But Antonella is a firm believer in dealing with whatever the situation offers, looking at it with different eyes, turning it into something.
My something was the Moses Fountain, depicting the moment when the mother of Moses places her baby son in a basket among the reeds in the Nile, in her desperate move to save him from the Pharaoh’s death sentence on all the first-born male children of the Israelites.
I had never paid attention to this Fountain before, had never even noticed the baby part-hidden by the foliage, and wasn’t aware of the name of the fountain.
Now it will be difficult to come to this place again and not think of the countless, desperate journeys across river, land and sea in which so many children and adults, unlike Moses, had their lives cut short.
I’ve passed it a thousand times and didn’t know its name: Villa Leopardi Dittajuti, or, as most people call it, Villa Leopardi. Nothing to do with the poet Giacomo Leopardi, though Isabella tells me Count Leopardi Dittajuti, who had the mansion built in the late 19th century, was a distant relative of the poet.
The Amici di Villa Leopardi have kept themselves busy, erecting tombstone-like monuments to the hard work they have carried out making the garden hospitable, though Isabella’s report on the little-known catacombs beneath us had me wondering about their muse.
Like the catacombs, the mansion is unfrequented these day. Probably awaiting restoration. Any indoor activities around here take place in the local library and centro anziani, which are also housed within the grounds.
For most of the people here these days, Villa Leopardi is the park rather than the mansion, and there does seem to be plenty of variety: places to sit, to picnic, to walk prams and wheelchairs, a space for children to play, even a dedicated speaker’s platform… or a place where speakers are cornered, it’s not entirely clear.
So, something for everyone.
For me, it was the flowers, the leaves, the plants. After so much time spent indoors over the past year, and especially the quarantines of the past winter, just being immersed in the season’s lusciousness and heady scents was exhilarating, something I would have liked to be able to recreate in the photo edits.
Peering through my macro lens, I watched insects gather goodies from even the smallest daisies.
Then out of nowhere came three colourful, exotic birds.
In September, after the long, hot summer, life in Rome supposedly returns to its usual work/school routine, doctor’s appointments and whatnot. La ripresa. Not that anyone is really going back to what was before.
La ripresa could also refer to an economic upturn. Again, dubious.
Today’s photography theme was la ripresa, working around the stalls in Campo de’ Fiori, which was hardly bustling.
At least in one sense it was a ripresa: my own personal one of going around the city with my camera again, for the first time in months. I felt a bit rusty, not unlike the wrinkled tomatoes with a touch of mould in the basket in front of an empty restaurant.
In the background, the fairies were doing their best to keep up appearances.
Some restaurants had a more sombre look, perhaps hoping their good name would bring their customers back.
Every little corner in this area has a rich history, and hidden treasures.
Down at the other end of Camp de’ Fiori, off the via del Pellegrino, is the picturesque Arco degli Acetari, with one of the most photographed courtyards in Rome.
Although the waiters’ and salespeople’s masks made their words mostly inaudible to me, they seemed very keen to get the ripresa going. It’s not that I’m difficult to please, but I’d already done my fruit & veg shopping, don’t enjoy the taste of pomegranate juice, was not tempted by the menù veloce. If it had been evening, and one of the comfy and spacious front row seats available, I might have stopped here for a prosecco, for old times’ sake.
As it was, after 3 hours, 2 coffees and a few short conversations with a dozen or so strangers, I was already exhausted – a fairly typical side effect of the September ripresa.
It felt like nighttime already. I followed the pink flamingo’s example, donned my mask and headed for home in the rain.