Wednesday, November 30

Rome-TrenItalia-Bialetti Espresso Makers & other good things about Italy (including politics)


Of course, the absolute *best* news to come our way this month (other than the launch of my book!) was seeing Silvio Berlusconi get his comeuppance when finally he was delivered with the sorry news that It’s the Economy, Stupido.  [To his defense, he had relied on the Italian post office for delivery...so it came a bit late].   A bon vivant and symbol of all that is wrong with Italy (skirting the law, sidetracking the women professionals in favor of the professional women strippers, proffering rampant nepotism & cronyism, suggesting people don’t pay taxes all the while treating the judiciary with gross disrespect), he was finally forced to step down.  He may be down but this does not signify he is out.  Although he did very little for Italy over the last 17 yrs wandering the lap dance halls of power, he has vowed to play on...
In fact, fans of Silvio's will find that his record album, Il vero amore was released this month.  If that's not a case of a politician lying right through his teeth, I don't know what is.  Tell us about True Love, Silvio!
We are now faced with the prospect of his delfin – Angelino Alfano, the strange alien life form now at the helm of his party who I am sure if he took off his mask is in reality Admiral Ackbar.  Italy: the next Death Star.
I may be a bit behind on reporting this news, but after recently purchasing two wonderful tiny Bialetti Moka espresso makers (you know, the old-fashioned ones that you set on the stove only after spilling costly coffee grains all over the kitchen counter and then wait as it spits up the black gold all over the stovetop), I discovered a whole section of spare parts for it hanging in grocery & appliance stores around town.  Offering – at long last – the little plastic handles and tops to your espresso maker that you have, over the years, melted down to irrecognizable clumps of their former selves. 
Perhaps if they’d offered this years ago, the rest of the world wouldn’t have switched to the handy spill-proof pods & electric coffee makers by now.  Regardless, I say stock up now before they can only be found in archeological museums.

Rome continues to beautify itself.  This time, completing the restyling of the romantic Parco degli Aranci (the orange garden) on the Aventino hill which offers a stunning – and silent – view of Rome.  Also, the park across from the Bocca della Verità was done up and now sports a labyrinth of greenery for you to enjoy. But for some real treats in the area, head up the tiny street nearby - via dei Cerchi - and on the corner before crossing into the Circus Maximus you’ll find Cristalli di Zucchero.  It's a slice of heaven serving tasty treats including those mouth-watering macarons in every sort of flavor – my favorite rose - bagel sandwiches and chocolate-covered ambrosia, food of the gods.
Across the street from there & up a few doors is a newish wine bar serving great food 24/7 and excellent happy hour buffets.  Next stop: Piazza Vittorio, Rome’s largest piazza (remember, St Peter’s square is in Vatican territory) will be getting its own facelift.  And around there, even more treats to be had amongst the foreign foodstuffs &amp, cheap Chinese shops, and Rome's oldest gelateria.
Now if the city only spent more time & money on cleaning up its outskirts or enabling recycling, we’d truly be a shining jewel in the crown of city planning.

Elsewhere around town, the Province of Rome has installed hundreds of solar panels in schools everywhere.  And Yelp.it That website for allowing the lowly customers a voice was launched in Italy (I personally can’t wait to start uploading reviews).  

And finally, Trenitalia finally got closer to their customers by starting a lost luggage contact point with their Ufficio Assistenza Clienti located at each rail station (Really?! Italy's Trenitalia has a customer service center??! Hopefully it'll be an improvement on the one I went to at Rome's airport - with the doors locked and no one in the office once I infiltrated the premises or the one in Torino where the doors do not open automatically).  Of course, this news doesn't bode well when their illustrious website still informs you that you must file a complaint with the local police dept instead.
Luggage-less English speakers can also try their luck at calling the Phone Center (they speak English) but...that costs you money and...I wish you luck.
Regardless, this is still great news arriving only 172 years after people started losing their bags on trains since taking to the rails under the Naples' Reign of the Two Sicilies.  
But hey, as the Trenitalia motto reads:  Always better late than never.

3 comments:

Francesca Maggi said...

And in a case of Art Imitating Life...I lost my cellphone on the train last night...let's put their Customer Srvc Center to the test! Watch this post.

Chandi said...

Solar Panels? That seems so organized and modern. I'm impressed. I haven't visited your blog in ages but I know it's always interesting and I need to carve out time to read it more often! I was just in Florence and saw a wonderful exhibit that I just posted about. I hope you're having a great time with your life in Rome. I'm considering moving to Florence by spring. Hard, though, to be an American with no prospects of getting legal.... do you have any thoughts on this whole economic disaster in Italy? With regards to an illegal American moving there right when that's happening?

Francesca Maggi said...

Chandi - thanx for posting! Okay, you are covering a lot of topics...here...So, pls drop me a line so I can write you more in an email...

I would say, in a nutshell, if your dream is to live in Italy (as I see in your blog), then just do it! Now-does that mean you'll find some good work prospects? Depends. For an Art Historian, perhaps working at American schools or universities is possible (I know many who've been hired in Rome). You come over legally, and just keep renewing your permesso di soggiorno. Eventually, they let you stay (or, you remarry! an Italian-sorry to sound like Silvio...). I have many friends who up & left the USA even in their 50s and loved it...many staying, others moving elsewhere (Spain, London) where things are easier...Join Am Assocs, network, get out there.
Please contact me when you come over as well!!!