Everything’s Closed In August

By William Westgard-Cruice

My first week in Rome.

July 31st; Early as fuck:  We’ve spent July on campus. I’m not sure how many UCUers can say that. I’m not sure how many would want to. Ben knocks on my door. Terrorist threats on Schiphol. Transport delays in and out. It’s a volatile world we live in. We’d better get going. Pack our bags, empty our rooms, scream goodbye to Mino, and off we go. It felt strange. Racing towards a place where our lives could be in danger. Terrorist threats. It was worth the risk.

Still July 31st; Hungry o’clock : Pastificio Guerra. Via della Croce, 8, Roma. Four euros per portion and a small glass of wine if you’re lucky. We’ll be back. Many times. We grab a cannoli and make our way to Piazza del Popolo. We unwittingly walk into Santa Maria di Montesanto during a funeral. Lord forgive me, I’m looking for a Caravaggio. Walking through Villa Borghese, one of the most beautiful urban parks in all of Europe, we notice something. iPhones. Androids. Everywhere. We knew all about the Pokemon Go fad, but this is egregious. Time to meet up with Carlo, our gastronomical, historical, and spiritual guide. Carlo doesn’t have a phone. Pizzeria Leoncino. Via del Leoncino, 28. I grew up in Philadelphia, a city with half a million Italians. I think I know a thing or two about pizza. The chefs at Leoncino change all that.

August 1st; Sunset :  Time to get some hashish. We hit Trastevere. I’m told it’s the neighborhood to be. They do nightlife differently in the Rome – it’s sepia, not black and white. I haven’t waited this long for drugs since I was sixteen.

August 4th. A perfectly reasonable hour: After two days and two nights with Ben’s most hospitable family in Fabrica di Roma, we drive for about an hour through the province of Viterbo to the medieval city of Tuscania. Would I like some coffee? Yes please. Ben’s uncle Gaetano says we’ll go visit Tarquinia, a picturesque medieval town by the coast. It used to be called Corneto. That’s one letter removed from cornetto. For the uninitiated, the cornetto is the cakey Italian cousin to the croissant. On the way back to Tuscania, I get a chance to ride on the back of Gaetano’s Ducati. Never in my life have I felt such a freedom, cutting through the hills of northern Lazio, feeling the wind. Really feeling it.

August 6th. After breakfast. Climbing gyms are always in former industrial parks. Closed? In August? In Italy? Surprise. We come back the way we came, stopping in the Parco delle Energie. Let’s snap some pictures of the graffiti. I’ve got a little project going. Something starts brewing on the basketball court behind us. After a few pickup games, our teammate tells us that he found the Parco delle Energie by using an app he created. It allows people to tag the locations of basketball courts. He wants to export it to the States. iPhones. Androids. Everywhere.

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