Tag Archives: film screening

You don’t look a day over 2,600.

Just after Paige left, Rome celebrated its 2763rd birthday. What better excuse to have a festa?

April 21, 2010 is regarded as the anniversary of Rome’s legendary founding by Romulus, remembered as the pudgy baby suckling a she-wolf’s teat, victorious over his poor brother Remus. Here’s a teaser photo of the famous she-wolf sculpture projected in Piazza del Popolo.

Can you see baby Romulus and Remus suckling?

So, what does Rome do to celebrate its birthday, you ask? I think a better question would be what doesn’t Rome do. There were over thirty events for the birthday week including (but not limited to) tours at archeological sites, marching bands and choir performances, seminars, conferences, exhibition openings at museums all over Rome, free entrance to said museums and archeological sites and a grand finale that recalled the history of the city with lights, sound and fireworks. But more on that later.

The event that kicked it all off was a parade that Ryan and I barely made it to in time. We stood outside the Vittorio Emanuele II monument and watched groups of people dressed up in ancient costumes. There were groups recreating famous legions, groups representing different areas of Ancient Rome, different religious sects (think Vestal Virgins) and even captive barbarians! I think I saw a Dacian or two being mistreated. Yay! (For those of you who don’t already know, I am researching a sculpture that supposedly features a Dacian.)

Over the next few days I took advantage of free admission to museums during what is called Settimana della Cultura or Culture Week. One of my favorites was Palazzo Altemps. I could not believe that I had never been here before. I was able to get quite a bit of research done looking at ancient sculptures restored by Ippolito Buzzi (also written as Buzio), but the highlight was definitely seeing the sculpture known as the Suicidal Gaul. By now everyone knows I love barbarians. The sculpture is absolutely gorgeous and I’ve written about it on a few different occasions. This time I scrutinized the work in terms of its restoration. Hmm, that barbarian seems to wield a Roman sword… How odd.

Suicidal Gaul at Palazzo Altemps

Ryan and I also took advantage of free admission at the Palatine hill, a place I shamefully haven’t visited since 2007. We took a picnic lunch that we ate near the Palatine museum, from which Ryan fed a few pigeons before we headed on our merry way about the hill top. We traveled down through the forum before decided that although our ticket included admission to the Colosseum, we were just too exhausted to carry on. We did have fun walking amongst the ruins though. It’s a shame that it costs money to go to the forum. It used to be open to the public back in 2007. Drat.

Me in the forum next to the Temple of Deified Antoninus Pius and Faustina

Anyway, the next big birthday week event was ROMAGNIFICAT, which is a play on the Italian words for Rome and magnificent. Shayna and I trekked it out to Piazza del Popolo with the rest of the Romans to see the light and sound show that was to chronicle Rome’s history. It was cheesy, but also very cool. They projected images of the Sistine ceiling and last judgement on random buildings in the piazza, little snip-its of famous Italian films were shown, there was an interpretive dance and reenactment of Rome’s founding (think she-wolf and Remus getting clobbered). The finale consisted of fireworks in Italian colors and the lighting of the olympic torch; Rome has been nominated to host the 2020 olympics. So, all together something magnificent indeed. Here’s a look:

Michelangelo's Last Judgement projected in Piazza del Popolo

Other things I got up to in late April were meeting the director Francesca Archibugi, teaching the Italian studies students how to make Spaghetti alla Carbonara (see recipe below) and having drinks with Mia and friends. It was certainly a great month. 🙂

Spaghetti alla Carbonara Recipe

  • 1 pound dry spaghetti
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 ounces pancetta (You americani can also use cut up strips of bacon if you can’t find the cubed pancetta version.)
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • Half a small onion, minced
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup grated parmesan
  • pepper
  • Optional table spoon of dry white wine
  • Optional bits of parsley for garnish

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, and add spaghetti noodles.

While the noodles are cooking, heat the olive oil in a pan. Add the pancetta (or bacon) and saute for about 3 minutes on medium heat. Remove the pancetta, leaving that lovely oil/fat mix in the pan.  Toss the garlic and onion into the fat and saute for less than 1 minute to soften. Turn the heat down to low and add the pancetta back in as soon as the noodles are done and strained.

Add the hot, drained spaghetti to the pan and toss for 2 minutes to coat the strands in the yummy oil/fat/garlic/onion mix. Beat the eggs and Parmesan together in a mixing bowl, stirring well to prevent lumps. Some Italians also add a tablespoon of dry white wine to the egg mix. I recommend it! Make sure you the heat is low, low, low before you move to the next step.

Pour the egg/cheese mix on top of the pasta, whisking quickly so that the mix covers all of the noodles. You want the eggs to thicken, but not scramble. Tricky, tricky. You can take the pan off the heat entirely if you want as long as your noodles are hot enough to partially cook the eggs. You can also thin out the sauce with a bit of reserved pasta water, but it won’t fix the scramble issue. So, don’t let it scramble!

Season the carbonara with salt and pepper and parsley, if you like. Then EAT!

What your pasta will hopefully look like.

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Winding down from Summer

I have been very busy over the past two weeks as Rome has finally begun to cool off. The weather is starting to feel like fall and we’ve had our fair share of thunderstorms.

The last two weeks have also been the final two weeks of the early fall start programs. Last Saturday I watched the final videos from the Cinema Studies program. The five films covered a wide range of skill, genre, theme and mood. One of my favorites was a film constructed like a parody of a “behind the scenes”/making of a hit blockbuster. They even used the vans from when Julia Roberts was filming as props. One of my favorite scenes from a different film takes place in front of the Colosseum with two girls reenacting a gladiatorial combat and a random Asian lady spontaneously joins in with kung fu moves. Hilarious! I wish I had the links to share with you.

I’ve also been spending a lot of time with the friends I’ve made from the Design and LSJ programs, particularly Ben, Anthony and Rain. Last week Leisha and I went over to the design students’ apartment for a pot luck where I met Ben’s girlfriend, Kristen. Kristen and Ben remind us so much of Lily and Marshall from How I Met Your Mother. They’re too cute! They even have their own joint blog that Ben designed, of course. Anthony has been my LSJ gossip informant sharing the scoop over glasses of wine. He’s going to come back to visit me this Sunday! Over the past couple weeks Rain and I went back to the Porta Portese market in the rain making some excellent discount purchases, found ingredients to make some Asian noodle creation from scratch, treated ourselves to McDonalds way too often, and nerded it up with some Star Trek TNG while downing cracker after cracker with cheese on top.

Crazy Roma Fans

Crazy Roma Fans

On Sunday a group of the LSJ students, Leisha, Mia and I went to the Rome vs. Florence soccer game at the Olimpico Stadium in Rome. It was a cultural studies lesson for sure. When we arrived, there were people in our seats and I politely asked them to move and they laughed at us. When we talked to one of the guards, he just told us to sit somewhere else. Later when I watched a man break his leg right before my eyes, I realized that the guards are there to call ambulances, not to help the poor little American girl get her rightful seat back. Soccer fans are CRAZY. At one point fireworks started going off in the stands and then people started rushing in, hopping walls and yelling. When the fireworks went off, Corddaryl yelled, “Run!” We were kind of caught off guard, so he explained: “If the Romans run that way, we need to go the other way!” It really wasn’t that serious at all, but funny in retrospect. One of the best parts about the game was getting a beer and a hot dog. Now that’s what I call some sort of sports event. Rome won 3 to 1 and everyone celebrated on the bus ride home by singing victory songs and pounding on the bus windows. I was a bit worried, but the LSJ kids and I made it home safely.

Cory Rain and I rocking Roma Gear

Cory Rain and I rocking Roma Gear

It has been a pleasure getting to know all the students and I am so sad to see them go. Separation anxiety, here I come. Maybe we can all meet up again over Christmas break!

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“Non vedo l’ora di vedere Julia Roberts.”

Well, this post has quite the story, but it will have to wait until I’ve covered the lame stuff.

Leisha arrived on Friday and we had a wonderful time crashing some free dinners. At the Law, Societies and Justice Program Dinner we sat next to a law professor and an art historical guide discussing their educations. One had gone to Yale and Harvard and the other went to Stanford and Harvard. WOW.

Sunday was another free day at the Vatican Museums, so Leisha and I woke up early and waited in line. This time we had a game plan. As soon as we were let in, we rushed through the museum, taking all the short cuts and got to the Sistine Chapel before it got crowded. There were about 25 people there when we arrived and over 100 when we left. I think my favorite part of the Sistine ceiling is the large figures of the prophets and sibyls. We spent an hour and a half enjoying the chapel and then we headed home and lounged all day.

Julia Roberts on set, which also happens to be my front yard.

Julia Roberts on set, which also happens to be my front yard.

Now what you’ve all been waiting for:
While studying Italian in our apartment, Leisha and I learned a new phrase: “Non vedo l’ora di…” It means “I can’t wait to…”. So, when Sabrina walked by, we asked her to give us an example of how to use it and she said, “I can’t wait to see Julia Roberts.” AND, I kid you not, less than five minutes later we heard the girls in the next apartment screaming, “Did you see her?” Leisha asked who and they said, “Julia Roberts!” NO JOKE. Sabrina is prophetic. As it turns out, Julia is in Rome filming scenes for her new movie based on the book Eat, Pray, Love. It just so happens that three of the scenes take place right in front of my building. The film crew blocked off the whole piazza and all of the students and office staff and I spent the better part of the day staring out of our third-floor-windows down at the top of Julia Robert’s head. She filmed one scene walking through the piazza, one eating in the Restaurant on the ground floor of my building and one dialogue scene walking past my front door. In the evening when I left to go to Federica’s house for dinner, the were still filming the last scene. When I came down to the front door, I asked a crew man if I could leave and he shushed me. I didn’t realize they were filming a scene right in front of me. So, I watched Julia Roberts complete a scene of dialogue and then the crew man said I could go. In the confusion of trying to get out, I ended up smack dab in front of Julia’s gigantic body guard. I asked him if I could get by and he moved to the side while I passed between Julia Roberts and the guard. I was within twelve inches of her! My mom is so proud. The next day Leisha and I walked through the piazza and got “souvenirs”, remnants of the fake flowers they used in the restaurant scene. Ah, what a wonderful conclusion to my first celebrity siting.

Anyway, Wednesday was quite an adventure as well. Leish and I decided to go to the British School library so that I could check out books for my research project. It started off well; we found an international grocery store and bought the ingredients for burritos, enchiladas and sushi. Success! However, the address I had for the library was wrong. Failure. But we wandered around for hours and eventually found it. Success! But when I tried to check out books, the stuffy British librarian denied me because I’m an undergraduate. Failure. But we found a bus and didn’t have to walk home. Success! But it was the wrong bus and we had to transfer. Failure. But we finally made it to the AutoGrill for lunch. Success! In our irritated, post-lunch coma we made it all the way home for some well-deserved naps before hosting a film screening for UW and RISD students. We screened Caterina va in cittá (Caterina in the Big City). It was a very cute, coming-of-age story about a girl who moves from a small Italian town to Rome, the “big city”. Kind of like me. Except that I’m not Italian. And I’m not 12.

Anyway, it’s been an exciting week now that Leisha is back. It promises to get even more exciting; I am going with the Law, Societies and Justice program on their field trip to Orvieto on Friday.

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