COUNTRY OF PROVENANCE
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When a Mexican tells you “mi casa es tu casa”, he really means it. Here is the story of my relationship with Mexico. Giselle, Buenos Aires
Rome through Roman eyes
Giselle from Buenos Aires, Argentina
2013. I had just spent a week with my family in Limbadi, the town we are from in Calabria. My cousins were going back to their house in Novara and we arranged for them to drop me off at a point on the route where my friend, Elisabetta (Elisingiro), would pick me up. We passed coordinates, it took us a while to locate her, I quickly lowered my things, we loaded the car, all as if it had been 3 minutes since we saw each other, although many months had passed. Greet me! I told her, and just then we hugged each other.
2016. Almost a day ago I had left Argentina, had made a stopover in Madrid, arriving at Milano Linate. I had travelled by bus to Milano Centrale station, waited about 4 hours, and travelled about 3 more hours to Roma Termini. I left the platforms, and I could not find Elisabetta. I did not have a phone to locate her, I looked everywhere for a wifi, but nothing. So I decided to wait quietly for her to find me. When she saw me she made me gestures with all the Italianeity you can imagine and challenged me like a child “Where were you? What door did you go out through? I had told you that I was waiting for you on that side! I’ve been looking for you for half an hour!”. Never angry, never raising her voice, but showing her concern. So I said: Hello, right? Say hello! And there we hugged and laughed as usual.
Thus began our two meetings in Rome, her city, the one I chose to write about for all that it represents. Encounters that have taken place during the last decade since I met her in Buenos Aires while working in an NGO in an emergency neighbourhood. Passing by traveling together to Mendoza. Let our families get to know each other. Have an extra hot Christmas in the southern hemisphere. Living the Tuscan town of his family, touring the Cinque Terre in August, our epic road trip in Corsica sleeping in a tent where we had the night, our meeting in 2019 in Barcelona and our truncated reunion in 2020 for my wedding that the covid delayed.
My first impression of the eternal city was in her hometown, Monte Porzio Catone, when we parked the car, it showed me the view of Rome from above, in the belvedere. We went to her house and everything that for her is everyday life, for me it was like from a history museum. Vineyards, Roman columns, archaeological pieces, everything was in place since ages and she grew up among those jewels. In the evening she took me to Nemi, a town located in front of a volcanic lake that seems out of a fairy tale. As it was in season, we ate wild strawberry cake and sparkling wine.
Rome and its beuties
The next day we left early by train and without my noticing we made combinations to leave the station and run into the Colosseum without warning. I still remember feeling that surprise and saying ” it’s the Colosseum !!!” and her face saying “yes, it’s super normal it’s been there for thousands of years”. She did the same with the Trevi Fountain, I kept asking her where it was and she didn’t say anything until in a little street I felt the noise of the water and the murmur of hundreds of tourists and I knew that when I turned the corner it would be there. We passed by the Pantheon, one of her favourite places.
It was August in Rome and the heat was horrible. I wanted my “gelato” and she wouldn’t let me have any until we got to the ice cream parlor that had the best ice cream in town. I was already getting impatient but what luck I paid attention to him. The best ice cream of my life will always be Giolitti’s.
It is a one-way journey, of such magnitude that, on my 2016 trip, after we travelled through Corsica together, I saved a day to spend in Rome just to have one more taste of heaven.
Love at first sight
We visited Trastevere at sunset and it was love at first sight. We walked a lot, a lot, a lot until we were rewarded with a Spritz. The following days were made of 12 hour marathons roaming in the streets. Visiting the Colosseum on the first shift to have it almost all to ourselves. Sheltering from a storm inside the car. Visiting an exhibition on Italian immigration to America at the Altare della Patria. Watching “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” at the Villa Borghese Shakespearean Theatre. To end the day almost always after midnight with sore feet and eyes full of beauty.
Of Rome I love its colours, its squares, its Egyptian towers between medieval streets mixed with remnants of the empire. The pagan temples located steps from the capital of Catholicism. Life on the other side of Tevere, its aperitifs, its fountains, its neighbourhoods. I love that its story is immeasurable, impossible to know all of it. I love having met Roma from the hand of my great friend, my younger sister.
My love is so much that in 2018 I had the opportunity to go back with my boyfriend and I infected him. And now that we are parents, we decided that our daughter will have an empire name, because it is a short but strong name. Because I met Roma for the first time with a woman whom I hope is a little (or a lot) like. Because with the same letters in Spanish, Amor, love is written.