Saturday, April 2, 2011

Polaroids From Rome

A few days ago I was assembling photos here from Mabel's visit to St. Peter's in Rome. I knew my daughter had taken a Polaroid while we were outside St. Peter's, but discovered I did not have a copy. My daughter had already stapled that Polaroid into the baby book. So when I called on Mabel and her father and mother at their San Francisco apartment the other day ...

... I asked to borrow the baby book. This allowed me to scan all the Rome Polaroids.  

An airport Polaroid taken in San Francisco on Friday afternoon, prepared for a trip that would end on Saturday afternoon in Rome. The crossing of many time zones makes the trip east seem like it takes 24 hours. With a baby, it might seem even longer, except that Mabel is such a splendid baby.

The Rome arrival Polaroid, taken on a marble ledge outside the Keats House, bordering one side of the Spanish Steps. Mabel traveled in her one-piece PJs. She was kicking and smiling in high glee when we met in the doorway. I had come to Rome a few days earlier and settled into the large flat in the Keats House where we would all stay. 

Sunday morning at the Pantheon. Inside, a few Christians were singing faintly together at a side chapel inside the ancient soaring void that already was old when Jesus was born.

Also on Sunday, at the flower market in Campo de' Fiori. We recognized stalks of purple hyacinth (and blue stalks and pink stalks) sorted into buckets. Yellow forsythia branches, bunches of red-and-white striped camellias, ranunculus in every fiery color, and poppies  hot salmon poppies.

Early Monday morning, on Mabel's seven-month birthday. I stood with her on Sant-Angelo Bridge for the Polaroid. Then we walked across the Tiber. Attached to the metalwork on the sides of the bridge were dozens of padlocks with lovers' messages written on them in Sharpie. 

Mabel and I watched a bright red cherry picker inside St. Peter's. It was stabilized on several wide-spread metal insect-legs supporting a large red pole. Hanging from the top of the pole was a basket with two workers inside it, washing windows. Mabel's parents took an interest in Michelangelo's Pietà. Mabel and I watched the window washers.

From St. Peter's we walked south to the old Trastavere district where students and artisans appeared to be numerous and cars appeared to be few. The stucco was faded (more than elsewhere). We had lunch in Piazza di Santa Maria. I indulged a fantasy of moving to Rome and living near this piazza.

Kitchen table back in the Keats House, with the loaf we bought in a Trastevere bakery. Before it was cut, this loaf weighed 1.458 kilograms and cost 3.94 euros.

Tuesday morning at the Trevi Fountain we threw coins and took  pictures, like everybody else. What made us unlike everybody else was the company of Mabel.    

Columns against the sky at the Roman Forum on the Ides of March. We watched formally dressed people lay flower bouquets on the supposed location of Julius Caesar's assassination.

Wednesday there was rain. The Polaroid was taken on the Quirinale Hill. That dark umbrella against the white wall to the right of the doorway is me holding up a very alert Mabel who is watching her parents across the road under their own umbrellas taking pictures.

Thursday was the 150th anniversary of Italian Unification. A military band assembled on the Spanish Steps beneath our windows playing John Philip Sousa marches and airs from Italian operas and other rousing Roman melodies we had never heard before. From above, Mabel watched and listened through the open window. 

Also on Thursday, Mabel and her parents took the metro eastwards to reach the ancient Church of St. John Lateran and the Baths of Caracalla.

On the Spanish Steps outside the Keats House flat, Mabel posed on her last day in Rome. We did some shopping in the piazza, buying colored leather gloves, a few Italian books, and baby clothes.

On Friday we also saw the Keats Museum (housed on the floor beneath our flat). The museum, conceived as a sort of library-shrine, dated from the early part of the 20th century. Later in the evening, with packing all done, we walked through the Borghese Gardens and Borghese Gallery. 

Saturday on the plane home Mabel had her new Italian corduroy dinosaur, Eustachio. The KLM flight had a drop-down baby bed that doubled as a playpen. Mabel reached home as serenely as she left it.

Back in San Francisco on Sunday everybody unpacked and got ready to return to the weekly California routine on Monday.

And Mabel put on a new Italian garment. Her Italian dinosaur now lives in San Francisco and is learning to speak English.