Rome is where the heart is

Friday 18th May 2018

Rome is my favorite city, so full of colour, chaos, life and beauty.
You walk from one century to another.
People talk to each other across hidden squares with palm trees and balconies covered in jasmine.
It is a city within a city.  Rubbish piled in one corner and elegant people drinking Negrone outside chic restaurants in another.
Buses and scooters, everywhere. Cars parked on pavements.
And secret courtyards with lemon and orange trees draped in washing.
I was going to Rome for an event organized by Ratti.
Ratti is situated in Como, Northern Italy, above Milan and close to the Swiss border.
The lake is famous all over the world and many celebrities have sumptuous villas on its banks.
George Clooney to mention one.
It is the center of Fabric production in Italy.  Famous all over the world.
Como is know as the “City of Silk “and Ratti is know worldwide, firstly in the fashion business.
It makes fabric for all the most important fashion houses.
Luckily for me it has a department that creates fabrics for interiors as well.
I searched high and low for a producer of this type because colour is so important to me.
However it is not easy to develop the colours you have in your mind onto fabric.
There is no one better at interpreting this than Ratti.
On this occasion Ratti are exhibiting the works of students that have been selected to take
The Advanced Course in Visual Arts and Textile at Villa Sucota, Como.
This takes place every summer in a villa over looking the lake.
I took the train from Arezzo, my closest town.  In Italy the train system is the same as everything else.
There seems to be no middle ground.
It is either supersonic going at 300kms per hour or dawdling along, stopping at sidings to let the fast trains past.
On this type of train, mine on this occasion, you can never be quite sure when you will leave, but certainly the arrival time will be very approximate.
It took me 4 hours instead of 90 minutes.
Rome is like London in that you always know you are getting close when you hear the cry of gulls.
I never think of Rome as being near the sea but it is. I find it exciting and alive.
I was swirled along down the hill in the taxi and into Piazza Venezia, we normally pass under Mussolini’s balcony,
but not today we carried on down Viale Vittor Emmanuel.
I commented and the Taxi driver said yes but today we would be going under Burlusconi’s instead. Very fitting!

I was staying the night with my eldest daughter, Vivia.  She lives in the artisan area.
The street is narrow and cobbled with little bridges here and there that join, or holdup, the houses on either side.
I was pulling my trolley and there in a the haze of sawdust I saw my daughters dog.
One of a pair of beautiful red coated Wissler. Perfectly at home in the hubbub around her.
Vivia’s family live in a typical Roman house,  rarely seen by outsiders as it is behind high walls off the street.
Connected by a large archway, there are high mettle gates, behind which you find a magical courtyard.
The house itself is higgledy-piggledy,  a warren of rooms one leading off another and stairs inside and outside leading to small terraces and little turrets.
It is so typical of her.  She is an artist herself and was once nicknamed  “The Jet Set Gypsy.”
Hardly Jet Set, but certainly there is a touch of the Gypsy.
Each room is a different colour and the fabrics she uses come from a variety of sources.
Some she has made in Kenya by groups of village women, and others can be beautiful Venetian silks with exquisite embroidery and fringes.
The house always has some form of Latin music play, children running up and down and dogs barking.

 I went for a walk down to the Campo di Fiori. Which is just around the corner.
It is fascinating for many reasons.  As it’s name implies it has a market selling flowers.
Not just flowers though, but all types of vegetables. At this time of the year the varieties are extraordinary.
And the colours! It is a kaleidoscope to the extent it made me quite dizzy.
In the middle of this square is a statue in bronze of Giordano Bruno, a monk who was burnt at the stake for heresy on February 17 1600.
Right here in the mist of this plenty  it seems quite incongruous.
He was brilliant well beyond his time and believed that the universe was infinite, and the world only an infinitely small part of it.
It makes me have goose pimples just to think of it. Especially as I tuned away and  had a glimpse of blue sky and an exquisite small church high lighted by the sun.
Before leaving this morning I sat in the sun with my coffee.
There is an old bench painted blue just under a wooden pergola, pink roses climb up one side and on the other grows a large bush of honeysuckle,
they joined together right in front of my eyes.  Honeysuckle Rose.
Is the title of a song sung by Fats Waller. He had many other great songs like “your feet’s too big” and “ant misbehaving “
My mother loved them and her feet  tap as soon as she hears the first notes.  Their delicate mixed scents made me think of her. “Gentle and wild all at once”.