Springtime in Rome
This winter has dragged on long enough. I’ve seen the mimosa in bloom and if I weren’t still stuffed up from the winter flu I would have smelled it. The rain isn’t quite as cold as it was a week ago. The banks of the Tiber are slimy with mud but no longer under water. Today big gusts of wind did their best to clean up the city, knocking down dead branches and illegal billboards.
Italians have voted for change at the national level and maybe even the Vatican will embark on some spring cleaning. Finally, in a month or so, Rome will choose a new mayor and, one hopes, set about putting its own house in order.
It has been a long winter and Rome is at a low point, at least from my personal observations. Today, while biking (slowly) through a “car-free” street in Trastevere which was full of parked cars a woman backed into me in a Fiat and then yelled at me for not watching where I was going. I called the police but got a recording saying no one could answer and to call later. So I went to the police station around the corner on Viale Trastevere and they told me to telephone, that they didn’t deal with traffic crime. When I gave up and returned to the same pedestrian area on my way to work a motorcycle zipped straight at me, honked and swore and barely missed me. I swear I must have a target on me.
Springtime is coming and I sense Romans are about to wake up and say a big collective “basta!”, that’s enough. If something doesn’t work (and there are many things that don’t) it’s about to get fixed. Spring cleaning will mean getting rid of all the trash that has been piling up for years: abandoned cars and scooters–right, if it’s parked on the sidewalk it’s abandoned–illegal billboards, and miscellaneous rubbish all have to go. There’s a lot of greatness left in Rome but it’s harder to appreciate when you can’t cross the street without climbing over some jerks’ idea of a status symbol. Change is coming, spring is in the air.