Nana v.s Stronza…

Posted on April 5, 2011


Dear Summer Dress,

I was extremely excited to find an adorable summer dress now that the sun is shining and it is time for less clothes! My friend Lina and I met up around 10 in the morning at Saint Peters to do a little shopping and enjoy the beautiful weather. We went in and out of every shop that called to us and both tried to stay away from the shoes. She also suffers an addiction to shoes, heels, boots and sandals. Like me, if she tries them on and likes them there is no stopping her from buying. An hour into shopping we both caved when we stumbled on some handmade leather strappy sandals for less than 50 euro. Mine were too big and hers were too small, and they brought us out the wrong ones. We took that as I sign and moved on knowing there will always be more shoes to find in the future. I try on a few dresses and pants before I fall in love with a double layer lace dress that fits me nice. I was trying my best to stay away from the black and search for more color for this spring and summer but I tried on the black lace over a grey long tank and couldn’t say no to the price. 13,90 euro? Done. As we shopped some more I found a really cute (and bright!) thin “poncho” type shawl and had to buy it. Along with a new belly button ring, a gift and two pairs of earrings my total was only 24,00 euro. It was a great shopping day yet the sun was harassing my black tee-shirt and skirt. I don’t have any open toed shoes so I suffered in my black converse as well. I desperately need some color in my collection! As we walk back down the street to meet Francesca (my teacher from school) for lunch we pass the shop where I bought the black dress. While Lina hits the ATM I wander in once more and realize that the first dress, the one that called me in the store,  is actually an off-white version in the same black one that I just got! I asked if I could trade it since I prefered the white and the sales girl found one and agreed that the lighter one was better for me. Success. And one less black item!

As we walk back towards Saint Peters we are constantly bothered by people asking if we want a tour of the Vatican, trying to sell us something or just plain hitting on us. “Ciao bella!” they will say and follow us. One guy really made us laugh when he said to us in English, “Beautiful ladies I am single and rich!” then his friend says, “but I can dance!” and “where are you from” This small group of guys with babe-slayer shades tried really hard to catch our attention but they did not succeed. We laughed and told them no thanks and quietly thanked the light for changing so we could cross the street safely away from the sunglass crew. When people ask us if we speak English we say no right away but I don’t think it is the best answer since it tells them that you understand their question…I get a total of two questions and shouts if I speak Spanish. This is the first time this has happened while I was without my Texa. It makes me miss her more since she went back home just last Friday. Leaving me perhaps til mid summer. I hope that she comes back! If not I am going to Venezuela.

 By the time that we make it to the bar to meet Francesca we realize that we are very hungry! We slide into a booth and wait for our party of three to be complete so we can decide what to have. Once she arrives we decide to have an afternoon cocktail. Prosecco for us and Compari for Frances. The tiny bubbles tickle my throat and I forget about food. A large table of about 10 pour in and are loud and entertaining. We see that they have gnocchi as their first course so that becomes our first and only choice. The gnocchi were very good and the sauce was simple with light basil, fresh crushed tomato and threads of olive oil. As we ate and drank I looked around at the now full bar and smiled to myself. You know those moments when something small happens yet you know that you will remember it all your life? I feel like this moment that I have here in Rome is just that. Time full of moments that I have keep within grasp and share with people dearest to me. The sweet banter between the local and barista is my favorite in every bar where people take their daily caffe. I have heard that having “your bar” is as important as your personal butcher. It is a familiar trust and camaraderie that is created in each local bar. There are the “usuals” and then there are the “suspects” which is my category. Sometimes when I pull out my mini notebook to record something interesting I feel like I am writing a review. I might even go as far to say that I look around and hope someone is watching me take notes and wonder what I am up to. When I meet someones gaze I will get an encouraging nod or overly flirty wink but either way I appreciate the gesture; I am acknowledged. At times that is all that people want. To be seen or heard.

Later in the day I meet Nana to pick up  the boys from school and take them to Judo. It is Tuesday already and the week is pretty much half way over! I find Tommaso and he is carrying a large bag with a huge box inside that is wrapped in birthday paper. He rips it open when I ask jokingly, if it is “for me?” “NO IO!!” (no me!) he shouts with a smile and his eyes get huge when he reveals a gigantic ninja mini Lego set. I smile along with him but my eyes don’t. This will be interesting. These pieces are teeny-tiny and I hope that we can agree to not open this until we get home. I cannot imagine trying to collect all the tiny Legos that I see exploding in the backseat of nana’s car while the boys shout and fight over who will open it. I shut my eyes and shake off the terrible image. Nana tells them that they can open it but ONLY look at the pieces! “Solo guardare. Non aprire!” (Only look! Do NOT open!) she tells them over and over. They promise and “ooohed” and “ahhed” over the new toys. The ride to Judo is full of brake slamming, hard turns and quiet cursing. Once we arrive and find ourselves inside I help Matteo get ready for his lesson. Once free, I pull up a chair under a closed window and pull out my book and a fresh golden pear from my bag. Tommaso found a friend with a DS so he was out of my control and sight for at least 45 minutes. About 20 minutes into my book a woman comes stomping down the hall with tall brown boots that make as much noise as a hammer against marble floor. She is on the phone and clearly upset. I am unsure if her voice or her boots are louder. I decide the words and sounds escaping her mouth take the honor. She clacks over to the window behind me, plops onto the desk and loudly opens it and it almost hits me in the head. She does not say a word to me but looks at me like I am in her way. I look to nana , who is sitting across the hall from me and nod in the direction of this witch. She gives me the knowing eye and shakes her head while silently sending the evil eye in the womans direction with a palm open in question in the direction of the open window. I decide to just pick up my chair and avoid any conflict with this bitch. She was, trust me. I move and nana jumps down this witches neck! They start yelling at one another in hot Italian and I realize that there is more hand motions than words! A few stomps and a shove of the window nana tried to set her straight. They are exchanging words about it is too cold, too hot, the room smells when the kids exit Judo, it is windy, it is beautiful, etc, etc! I understand most of the fast talking argument but it was not entirely settled. I really thought some slapping would occur when they got really close in each other’s faces! There was some shoulder shoving and bad words while everyone within the hallway stopped to gawk at these yelling grandmothers. The window continued to be open and the “stronza” sat in front of it like an ogre claiming her swamp. Again, too many children movies…! My movie references have gone PG. When nana calls her a “stronza” I agree and we laugh together. I was thinking it and nana called it.

The other nana shows up to say hello, bring food and this time, gifts! Gifts for all, not just for the boys. I got another gift and it is not my birthday! She had mini bags and gifts for everyone in the family. Mine had a special name tag that read, “Lexis” so I have yet another name to add to my list of wonderful things to call me. She told us that we had to wait until we got home to open them up together and I wondered what it could be. She got me a nice umbrella and hat for Christmas so I knew that it would be something good. When I tore into mine I was pleasantly surprised to find a super cute teal tank top with a hot girl in black tipping her fedora with diamonds. This nana must be simply the best. She brings all the tasty food and now gifts? I am loving this nana like my own. I always make sure to kiss her goodbye and hello soon as I see her. She makes me feel like she is happy to see me and I look forward to seeing her twice a week during Judo as well.

At home during dinner we watch one of my favorite cartoon films, Ratatouille. I feed Matteo while Tommaso refuses to eat since he is concentrating on his mini Legos. When he finally comes to his seat the film is half-finished and Matteo and I were already done eating. We enjoy the film some more and once we are all finished eating T offers the boys an apple so I cut each one and pass them out to the kids. There is a scene in the movie when Little Chef hand feeds his brother so Matteo tells me to “chiudi gli occhi” (close your eyes) and he lets me have one small bite of his apple. He is so sweet and funny. Him and I have this little thing that we do together when we see each other. It is better than a high-five since we don’t have to exchange anything but a look and a movement of our head. He looks to me, or me to him and we say our names and then it is a single, dramatic nod of a “yes.” It is as if we are saying “agreed”, “hello” or asking if we nod in the direction of something. Sometimes he even copies my pout lip and winks, which takes special skill and attention to detail. I must try to get a photo of this. It might be one of my favorite moments that we share. This nod is justified once more when in the movie a character does the same nod and we lean into the eachother laughing and stop to exchange about 6 nods and winks.


Posted in: When in Rome