I will admit it. I forgot.
Upon waking this Monday morning, I had only two thoughts: one, call April and wish her a happy birthday; and two, finish my blog entry for yesterday. I completely forgot that today happens to be Valentine’s Day. As I mentioned in my very first post, I am usually late… and apparently, not just with time.
So, it was that I received excellent electronic reminders that today was indeed the day to run out and get your beloved all sorts of treats and flowers galore! And I thought, “Wonderful! I am in this city that is supposedly filled with romance. I am bound to find red and pink heart-shaped decorations, chocolate fountains, and dozens of roses just littering shop windows and even the streets!”
I actually threw on a pair of jeans and sneakers (and for those of you who have been around me more recently, the fact that I am not wearing heels is perhaps amazing), and ran out the door, ready to be greeted by amore and strains of “‘O Sole Mio.”
It's still a regular day on Via Arenula (2.14.11)
What I got, however, was this (image on the right).
Life in Rome was simply going along as though the day had no particular significance. I couldn’t believe it!
I decided that I must be in the wrong section of town, and walked back over towards Campo dei Fiori, where I was certain I would find evidence of Valentine’s Day! Or, at the very least, some tourists showing excessive amounts of PDA.
Heart-shaped cakes in store window (Campo dei Fiori)
Campo dei Fiori did not disappoint me! Although sadly, in comparison with the commercialization of Valentine’s Day (V-Day) in the U.S., the V-Day efforts of Campo dei Fiori seemed quite mediocre, if that.
I was pleased to see the evidence of V-Day celebration being displayed by some of the vendors in the marketplace and also by some of the stores (well, one store).
Woman with heart-shaped headband (Campo dei Fiori), 2.14.11
One woman, in particular, was really in the V-Day mood as she made her way throughout the marketplace. Another woman was selling flowers (or hoping to) with a beautiful array of roses amongst other equally attractive flowers. A male vendor sold carnivale masques and some V-Day theme items. (Although I am still not sure what they were… I just saw the sign.) All in all, Campo dei Fiori had a pretty good and promising vibe for V-Day, especially as the weather was bright, fairly warm and sunny.
Woman flower vendor (Campo dei Fiori), 2.14.11
The experience at Campo dei Fiori left me feeling very hopeful. Thus, I made a mad dash towards Largo di Torre Argentina, camera in hand and at the ready to snap pictures of V-Day in the making.
I love Birkenstock sign (Rome, Italy), 2.14.11
Well… to cut a very short story even shorter. There was nada, or niente (for the sake of adding an Italian flare). I did, however, discover that there were expressions of love for other things… like Birkenstocks (I think Germany will be happy to know this on V-Day.)
Couple walking (Rome, Italy), 2.14.11
Oh! And I almost forgot! There was also the random couple that actually showed some potential acknowledgement of V-Day…
Side note: Yesterday, Giuseppe told me that “love is the most important aspect of [Roman] life. After all, Roma spelled backwards is ‘Amor,’ which means love.” Really? You could have fooled me.
I eat alone. Therefore, I am a feminist!
After my long and emotionally taxing (Yes, it is quite emotionally draining to search for love – You and I both know it’s true!) morning spent walking around the apparently anti-Valentine’s Day city of Rome, I decided to head back to my neighbourhood of Campo dei Fiori for lunch. Recently (as in, last night), I discovered a wonderfully inexpensive, but quite good, bar/cafe very close to my home. It was to this cafe that brought my tired self to enjoy a little V-Day lunch before heading home.
I had been thinking much about yesterday’s demonstration by the women of Rome, and wanted to find a way to talk with some Italian women about their experience of gender roles in Rome. Luckily, the night before I had met a young woman named Janet, who works at the cafe. She also happened to be working today. I decided to ask Janet if I could make a time to speak with her about her experiences.
At the conclusion of our very brief conversation to exchange contact information, one of the male servers asked Janet a simple question in Italian. Unfortunately for him, he assumed that because I spoke in English that I could not understand Italian.
He asked: “Lei è femminista?” (Is she a feminist?)
I answered him, “Sì. Io sono femminista. Perché?” (Yes. I am a feminist. Why?)
In English, he responded, “Because only a feminist would eat alone.”
And so there you have it… If you do not want to be seen as a feminist in Rome (per this Italian man), best not eat alone. As for me, eating alone is equally as comfortable and appreciated as eating in the company of others.
I wonder what he would think if he knew that my grand plan for this evening is to watch the movie “Gladiator” and to write?
In Rome on Valentine’s Day
Love I will not write
The cold of my heart like snow
Words of my mind – death