Saturday, November 22, 2008

Quelle chance!

Today, I had a stroke of bad luck picking up the pictures from my disposable camera that I took to Barcelona. Out of the 32 exposures on the camera, only 13 weren't completely grey and fuzzy, and out of those 13, only 1 is actually decent. And none of them came out well on the CD. So I paid 7 euros for one picture. Here's a backwards version of it that I took using Photobooth. It may be a little ghetto, but it's better than nothing.

After that misfortune, however, my day only got better. For one, the neighbors upstairs who usually blast Indian music so loud and for so long that I would rather run a cheese grater across a blackboard (my nails are too short) than listen to it anymore, started blasting Alicia Keys! Finally, cooperation! After jamming out to Alicia and cursing my ruined photographs, I headed out to pick up a book that I had ordered from the fabulous English bookstore here in Rome, Anglo American Book Company. Just a bit over a week after I ordered Mouse or Rat: Translation as Negotiation by the acclaimed Umberto Eco, I got a text message beckoning me to pick up my book within ten days - as if I could make it ten days without visiting the store, ha! I was only more pleasantly surprised that they had mistakenly ordered the paperback version rather than hardcover - half the price! Of course I couldn't make it out of the store with only the book I'd come for. I also picked up a copy of Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynn Truss (which I haven't decided whether I'll keep or give to my professor who is the original intended recipient), and White Teeth by Zadie Smith, whom I've heard a lot about. As if reading Boccaccio's Decameron wasn't keeping me busy enough...

Meandering through the Piazza di Spagna towards the Villa Borghese, with the intention of visiting the modern art museum nearby, I did some recon for Christmas shopping. I wish I could scream from the rooftops (ahem, write on my blog...) all the amazing Christmas presents I've purchased so far, but then I'd either ruin the surprises or have to figure out how to block certain posts from certain people, and I'm just not technologically savvy to know how to do that. 

Up the Spanish steps and past the Trinita dei Monti church, I made it to the edge of the park and was about to cross through it to find the modern art museum when I saw that, low and behold! the Académie Francaise (in the Villa Medici) was open to the public (which it really almost never is)! Thinking I was getting away with something michievous and bold, I darted in, bought a ticket to the photography exhibit of Marco Delogu and scurried into the first show room. I avoided eye contact with the guards in every room, convinced that I wasn't supposed to be there, that any minute they'd come up to me and say "Signorina, this exhibit is only for French elitists, one of which you are obviously not! You must leave! Now!". When one guard stopped me, I was sure he was about to ask me to show my ticket alongside some sort of ID that qualified me to be in the presence of the Académie Francaise. Turns out, he was just giving me directions to the second part of the exhibit, across the garden. "Ah, grazie!" I blurted out, à la deer in headlights, before stomping up the spiral staircase.

I had heard of neither Marco Delogu nor Véronique Ellena, the other photographer showcased across the garden. Their photography was certainly interesting, but I was even more interested in seeing the Villa Medici which housed them. The villa once belonged to the Medici family, a ruling family in Rome during the Renaissance, and has housed the French Academy since 1803. So although I appreciated the photography hung on the 16th century walls, I was using them more as a device to see the beautiful villa and its gardens. Sorry, photographs. 

It was a cool day for Rome, mid fifties, but sunny and beautiful! So I had a great time walking around the gardens, even though I'm fairly certain I was supposed to be in them, then sat for a coffee in the cavernous café/bibliothèque while reading my new book. A perfect cap to a very good day in Rome. Probably the most exciting thing that's happened to me in Rome! Except finding your Christmas presents, which I can't tell you about...

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