Devoted to things Rome
8/12/21: Weird experiment day!
Today I am going through every page I have in Life is a Fountain and adding something hopefully relevant to it from the annals of Clerkmanifesto. It’s my desperate attempt to freshen up everything after being away for a couple weeks. So here you go:
As you most likely know, my wife and I went on a trip to Florence, then Rome. We have been to Rome many, many times, once for a month even, but we have never been to Florence. So there we were. And it was lovely. First staying on the outskirts of the Oltrarno neighborhood we learned how good all the food can be there, how beautiful the countryside is, hedging in, how glorious are the vistas of the fabled city. We saw astonishing art in the Pitti Palace. I got the lay of the land on their extraordinarily high level of gelato.
Then we moved in, deep into the heart of the city, across the street from the Duomo. The thronging life of the place, its soul and essence! More beauty, more art, more food and markets.
This is lovely, isn’t it? We said.
Yes, we had to answer.
We compared. This thing is better here than there. This market is easier to use. I like how there is less traffic and big streets. I like how you can walk to every single thing.
This is lovely, isn’t it? We asked again.
Yes, we had to answer.
Could we live here?
Yes, if we could afford it this would be great, a thrilling place to live. We would live here in a second. Maybe we should live here. It’s lovely, isn’t it?
Yes, it’s lovely, we had to answer.
It is lovely.
We had a lot of fun.
We saw extraordinary things. It was great. We ate delightful things. We shopped in charming shops. We saw miraculous art and architecture. We saw history. What a town this Florence is!
It is lovely, isn’t it?
Yes, we had to answer.
And then we got our train and went to Rome. And we stepped out into Rome. And we said:
A bit less than a year ago I restructured the way I eat. This was for a variety of household and health reasons, and to make a little more room for my hobbies of cocktails and coffee. One thing about the restructuring meant that I eat less. Sometimes it seems like a lot less. I don’t use sweeteners. I don’t eat or drink after seven. I have very particular meals and mealtimes, and not that many of them. And I can’t complain. All of this has largely done the job. I still have my middle age issues, but I feel pretty much healthier and less inclined towards physical breakdowns, back injuries, colds, and some other miscellaneous ailments, than I had before. Plus I look dashing in my vests.
But when I went to Italy I decided, for my two weeks there, to set all that carefully to the side. As my wife and I tramped all over Florence and Rome I ate and drank whatever, and whenever. I had as much coffee as I could manage. I drank regularly- a bottle of wine, Fernet Branca at night, cocktails on piazzas, afternoon Spritzes like it was a religion. I consumed great quantities of cheeses, finding our first great cheese plate at Pitti e Gola where I had three glasses of sparkling wine and one of something called Orange Wine. I ate plates of raw meat. I had pastry every morning stuffed with creams and chocolate. I bought porcini mushrooms and swordfish and fried them in olive oil. I ate all the potato chips they brought me with my Spritz.
And I had gelato.
I had gelato every day. I had gelato in the morning. I had gelato in the evening. I had gelato in the afternoon. I would get gelato, eat it, and go back to order more gelato. I ate gelato walking along. And I ate gelato sitting down. I ate planned gelato and I ate spur of the moment gelato. I had whipped cream on my gelato and I had gelato plain in a cup. Sometimes I had espresso over my gelato. I ate a lot of gelato.
Outside of one unpleasant night early in the trip which I blame on an injudicious nightcap of Fernet Branca and possibly a questionable panini, my health was excellent in Italy. I felt good. A few weird home ailments ceased to bother me in Italy. I came home well and whole and I might have even lost a pound or two while I was there, or so it was suggested to me.
Now surely one could say that our near constant walking in Italy wiped away all the other sins. Or that for all I ate it turned out we were too busy for me to actually eat all that much. One could argue that the joy of Italy helped me out, the lack of stress, the complete cessation of anything remotely comparable to a sedentary lifestyle.
And those would be good arguments. Very sensible.
It was the gelato.
Here is a review of a store in Rome (pictured below the review). It is from a series of 200 Reviews of Rome. Undoubtedly you’ll be able to see more of them here in the future.
Flying Tiger Copenhagen
Oh the hell with it:
“The lavender gelato made me collapse onto the black brick streets of Rome, lying there weeping and babbling about a conversion to Catholicism”
“The swooping inlays of the marble were so exquisite that I insisted on tracking down the nearby family of the 17th Century artisan who crafted them to thank them for their ancestor.”
So this morning when it came time for me to write up a new review of something in Rome I thought I might enjoy looking for something more plebeian and common. At least something calmer and less spectacular. Maybe something that I could criticize and make light of. And when my eye fell upon the store known commonly as Tiger, I knew I had found just the thing. This is a store with multiple branches, so a chain, and one that hardly even seems Italian (it’s from Denmark I guess). It sells useful junk, like an upscale dollar store, as if Ikea were running it.
So I rolled up my sleeves to write my desultory review, only to realize:
I love Tiger, with a passion. It is a fantastic store, one of our favorites in Rome. Five stars!!!
Sometimes in Central Rome it can be hard to find stuff. There are little crammed hardware stores and gift stores and souvenir stores and food stores. And sometimes they all have the same things, same t-shirts, same salamis, same garish liqueurs, same exact postcards, and same papers for the same stationery. Interesting things are expensive, cheap things are cheap, and practical things can get a little tricky to track down. I’m not complaining. But Tiger is an awfully nice alternate universe. It’s pretty big. Nothing in it is very far from junk, but none of it quite exactly is. And none of it is very far from dirt cheap, but none of it quite is dirt cheap, I mean, for what it is. It is full of practical things, but you could not really predict what any of those might be, and the versions of those practical things will be slightly more interesting than the normal practical thing. Those Band-Aids, for instance, or pushpins, will have a twist. The scotch tape will be blue. Of course there are scads of non practical things as well, some that might be useful, and some that surely won’t, and some that will be very useful if you are just clever enough to think of something good to do with them. There are a lot of things that are like unique, inexpensive souvenirs from no specific place in the Universe.
“I went a strange store and I brought these back for you! I don’t know what they are. They’re from Tiger.”
“Thank you. Where’s Tiger?”
“It’s in Rome, near the cat sanctuary, but that’s not the point. It could be a store on a space station as comfortably.”
I only now remember two things I got there, though there were many more. I got some blue tape and three mysterious balls of slime.