Back in the Città Eterna, or Caput Mundi – the capital of the world, people! The Romans got it right! And not Kaputt Mundi, like some have recently tried to portray it.
From the minute I hit the ground in Termini, I am off and running: ruins, fountains, monumental architecture, churches churches everywhere, palaces that open for a quick peek at the splendor of a day gone by. And the coffee! And the cafés!
What I noticed this time, is great attention to getting the point across. In the (good?) old days, you’d get to Rome, and if you didn’t speak Italian, there would be a lot of gesturing with waiters and people you stopped on the street to ask directions, and somehow all that hand waving got you what you wanted.
Not so anymore. Romans have learned English. Take a look:
How funny is this? “No frozen food”? So, I get it: it’s all fresh. Clearly an aspect of food that deserves recognition and respect. I’d even link this attention to guaranteeing quality to the theme of this year’s Milan Expo: feeding the planet. But how? With what? (And no, I did not visit the McDonald’s at the Expo, not even for journalistic, reporting purposes!)
This is a more homemade version, very down home: get a load of the little herbs and flowers growing on the crates that serve as shelves. Somehow, though, minestrone sounds so much more appetizing than ‘vegetable soup.’ Is it just me? Here our well-intentioned owners in their zeal to communicate with potential clients forget that minestrone is an international word and requires no translation.
This one had me stumped for a bit, I have to admit. An example of going too far… Or actually, an example of wanting to get Italians to use English, but making it… uhmmmm… if not comprehensible, at least pronounceable for them. I took a pass on sampling their wares, however. The self-proclaimed ‘Italian tradition of taste’ somehow did not convince me after that name!
One of my favorites: a pun! This upscale little boutique with mostly things for men could make you a fool for wondrous things. Taking a glance around inside was a dip into luxury and feeling good, without the ugly surprise of prices beyond mere mortal’s reach.
Ahhh, Roma, caput mundi, caput cuori…. Eternal city of eternal surprises!