A couple of Phoenicians living temporarily in Roma

Archive for the month “May, 2013”

World Press Photo Exhibit

IMG_4463Rome has 20 civic museums. I found this out while I was putting together a list for an Australian friend of all the websites I’ve discovered while living here. There’s quite a few sites that are helpful for expats and visitors alike. I’ll post them in a separate blog post soon. But back to the Musei in Comune website. It was featuring an exhibit at the Museo di Roma in Trastevere of the winners of the World Press Photo contest. I was intrigued, so I took myself there the other day.

Who knew? World Press is a non-profit organization, based in Amsterdam, that was started in 1955. According to it’s website, “World Press Photo is committed to supporting and advancing high standards in photojournalism and documentary photography worldwide. We strive to generate wide public interest in and appreciation for the work of photographers and for the free exchange of information.” Every year they hold a photo contest. This year more than 5,500+ photographers submitted over 100,000 photos. Winners are selected by an international jury and the winning photographs (this year there are 54) head out in an exhibition that visits 45 countries during the year.

The photos are amazing. They are also disturbing, heart wrenching, touching and compose a diary of the past year. War, in it’s various ugly forms is featured, as are the daily lives of people, places and animals. Each photo is displayed with it’s story…not just where the photo was taken, but the political and cultural context in which its subjects were captured.

I took some photos of the photos, but even better yet, the World Press Photo website has them readily available, so you don’t have to travel to an exhibition site to see them. The link to view the photo gallery is to the right under Cool Stuff of Interest (World Press Photo). Enjoy!

Friday Night Art and the Twins with the Melancholy Faces

Via Margutta

Via Margutta

Michael jetted back to the US this past weekend to surprise his eldest daughter, Lauren, at her graduation from medical school. (Congratulations again, Dr. Lauren Tobin Thompson!) I took the opportunity being alone to hang out with some of my women friends in Rome. At our party a few weeks ago, a guest had invited us to an art opening that she was curating at a gallery on Via Margutta. So I asked our friend Teresa to join me, and gallery hopping we went!

Via Margutta is a lovely, small, leafy street/alleyway in the Centro Storico of Rome off of via Baubino, a short walk from the Metro station at Piazza di Spanga (the Spanish Steps). On my way to meet Teresa, I ran into another friend, Claudia, who was also on her way to the opening. We soon arrived and met up with Teresa and since the gallery was the size of a large postage stamp, it didn’t take long to view the oversized photographs of fountain spray. You actually didn’t even have to go into the gallery to view the photographs. It was very hot inside, so we got a drink and hung out in the street along with most of the other patrons. Next to the gallery, I noticed these very interesting looking men who were busy posting their own art on the closed garage door next to the art gallery. As we looked closer, we noticed that they were twins. My interest was picqued more by them than the fountain spray, so Teresa and I wandered over to look at their art.

Their paintings were mostly of primitive horses along with one or two of fish, painted onto cardboard that seemed to be cut from boxes. The horses were similar in shape, but each was painted with unique colors and designs. They had been attached to the garage door with masking tape and there was a paper shopping bag propped up next to the door with more paintings inside. We tried in our limited Italian to speak with the brothers, Maurizio and Tonino, and were able to get that they were selling their paintings for 10€ each, with a few costing as much as 20€. We had to have one! After picking out our favorites, they signed them each on the back:

Maurizio e Tonino

I Gemelli Dal Viso Malin ComiCo (the twins with the Melancholy Faces)

Attori e Artisti (Actors and Artists)

Federico Fellini

The Twins with the Melancholy Faces

The Twins with the Melancholy Faces

We couldn’t figure out exactly what their affilitation was with Federico Fellini, the famous Italian movie director. Had he lived on Via Margutta? Were The Twins with the Melancholy Faces in Mr. Fellini’s movies? Teresa later sent me a website for researching movies, but I haven’t been able to find the twins. We both agreed they had good business skills in setting up their work next to an advertised show in a gallery and we were delighted with our art purchases.

Arthoteque De Roma gallery

Arthoteque De Roma gallery

Figuring it was time to move on, we kissed Claudia and another friend Carmelo goodbye (I love the custom of kissing on both cheeks when saying hello and goodbye), and meandered into a few other galleries that were having openings on the street. We admired the work at Artotheque De Rome of Micaela Legnaioli. Her husband explained they had been to the desert in California last year and the trip served as inspiration. We particularly liked her work of a prickly pear cactus that was made from green plastic water bottles. (The photos of her work and the street scene on Via Margutta are from the art gallery’s Facebook page).

Our final stop before heading to a lovely dinner outside at Coso Wine and Restaurant by the Italian parliament building, was at Area Contesa, a “temporary” gallery where we met the artist Sergio Eccomi. He greeted us warmly, offered us wine, took our photos, and gave us parting gifts of trees he had painted with plastic paint on copy paper. Bellissimo!

What do you say, when you don’t really have anything to say?

IMG_4405It’s the bain of most writers and bloggers existence. What do you write about when you feel like you don’t have anything that interesting to say? Nothing witty, nothing spectacular, let alone earth shattering. Yet, I feel the desire to write. I want to stay in touch. So, here goes…

We went to an apertivo (happy hour) a few weeks ago for the American International Club of Rome. Monthly they do a mixer that’s open to non-members. We saw our Danish friend, Louise there, who mentioned that her birthday was the following week. After the mixer, a few of us were eating burgers at the Hard Rock Cafe when the idea of a party started brewing and the next thing I knew, we’d agreed to host a soiree at our flat the following Saturday night.

We invited maybe 40 people we knew and about 15 said they’d be able to make it. Lots of people had plans to be out of town and there was also an Internations wine tour in Umbria that day, so some people were already signed up for that and didn’t think they’d be able to get to our place afterwards. Understandable. It turned out we ended up with about 40 people anyway, some friends having invited other friends to come. I didn’t know maybe half the people, but they all turned out to be really nice and gracious guests. Four women arrived who were friends of a friend, and they brought with them three huge containers of homemade gelato from one of the women’s family gelateria in Frascati, and a magnum of wine. Guests like that are always welcome! The party was fun, a good time was had by all, only one drink got spilled (of course it was red wine!) and next time I’ll hire someone to help during the party so I have more time to socialize.

I’ve been hanging out during the day with my American girlfriends, Mitzi and Suzanne. We go to lunch, mostly window shop, meet for drinks. We went to a yoga class together. We go to museum exhibits. We had a spa day using a Groupon. Mitzi is going to be moving up north near Verona at the end of next month, as her husband got a better job up there. His family is there, the cost of living is much lower and they won’t be draining their savings, which is the case living in Roma. We’re aware that time is running out for hanging out, so we’re trying to get as much of it in as we can manage. Next week we’re going to meet for a cookie baking afternoon with their girls.

Another spa day is coming up. We’re going to visit the Italian Parliment building with the women’s group we belong to. The two of them have been lifesavers for me here, and I know we will be lifelong friends.

I’ve taken a few photos lately, while I’ve been out and about. Interesting people, a cool building, a surprisingly dirty and deserted street.

Well, the sun’s finally out a bit and it’s stopped raining, for the moment, at least. I’d better get to the palestra (gym) while I can. Hmm… I guess I did find something to write about! Thanks for coming along.

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Mama mia! How time flies!

At the Culinary Festival in Scottsdale, AZ

At the Culinary Festival in Scottsdale, AZ

Life just seems to get away from me sometimes. It’s been awhile again since I wrote…so a brief update.

We went to the US for 2.5 weeks at the end of March to mid April for Michael’s daughter’s and niece’s weddings. We had a wonderful time catching up with friends and family in Colorado and Arizona. Lots of running around…doctor appointments, teeth cleanings, shopping for supplies to bring back to Roma, eating at favorite restaurants, driving, driving, driving. I’m always struck when we go back to the US how much time we spend in the car getting from here to there. I guess when I think about it though, I spend as much time in Roma on foot, on the Metro and in a bus, but somehow it seems different.

Since we came back to Roma, we hit the ground running. Michael’s back into the thick of things at work and there are likely to be a few trips in the coming months that I’ll get to attach my coat tails to and tag along. There’s a Tuscan spa trip in mid June and maybe an international trip prior to that. We have plans to return to Umbria to Fondo le Teglie, our friend Susan’s villa, and to attend the Umbrian Jazz Festival where we have tickets to see Diana Krall this summer. We’re hoping to get a trip to Barcelona into the mix too.

At the sea outside of Rome

At the sea outside of Rome

We have been attending Internations events, including a great party that featured 70’s and 80’s music where we got to dress silly and dance the night away. We went to see a wonderful exhibit of fashion photographer, Helmut Newton’s work, White Women/Sleepless Nights/Big Nudes at the Palazzo della Esposizioni. The weather has gotten warmer and we started going to the sea (beach) outside of Rome last weekend. I finally found an local accupuncturist and a source for Chinese herbs. I even have a small, very part time job helping a fellow expat, Elizabeth Wahn, market her book for tweens, Lindsey and the Jedgar (which is available on

There was a celebration of Rome’s birthday, complete with a parade, costumes and an enactment of something we couldn’t understand at Circo Massimo last weekend. We keep meeting more people, making new friends, and I can’t help myself from sometimes anticipating the sadness I’ll feel when the time comes to leave these new found friendships and my new home.

We don’t have an update yet on our next step…so in the meantime, viva la Roma!

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