My last day in Italy!
And it was certainly one of the best. We traveled to Rome on a very fast train, and quickly found our hotel. We knew it was going to be a very busy day, but it started out very pleasantly. The rain had vanished and Sara was in her element, but I knew the sun and heat was going to be a challenge for me.
We met with members of BloodMemories.it for a wonderful lunch. Some of the people there seemed like my old friends by now, but others were new. Some lived in Rome as students and workers, while others had traveled from Sicily for a chance to meet me and the other members of BloodMemories. I was very impressed with the spectrum of readers: students of anthropology and engineering, postal worker, cinema worker, law student, etc, etc.
We had a HUGE luncheon of incredibly delicious food. I simply could not finish it all, but had to be content with tasting at least some of every dish. And they were excellent and delightfully typical of Italian cuisine. At the end of lunch, I was presented with a lovely pen and an ink supply for it. Years ago, when I was first learning cursive, my teacher required that we use a fountain pen. I wonder if I can relearn that skill after so many yeas with a Sharpie!
Sara and I then had to leave for a brief time for a photo session, in Saint Peter’s square. It was hard to stand still and look where I was told to look when I wanted to stare at everything all around me!
Then we returned to the restaurant for less formal photos with friends. I knew that my time in Rome was very short, so I had given up much hope of seeing any of the sights. But Sara and BloodMemories were determined that I should have at least a glimpse of the Coliseum. After a bit of debate, it was decided that if Sara and I raced there on the Underground, BloodMemories would meet us there to pick us up in a car and whisk us back to the bookstore on time. So we set off at a very quick pace through the crowded streets of Rome and then plunged down into the Underground. The passages and cars were crowded, but each time we found a spot and hurried on. Finally, we emerged into daylight and a very brief but brisk walk brought us to the Coliseum.
No Hollywood movie or documentary can compare to actually seeing this. I think the message that Rome delivered to me is, Stone remembers. It was so moving to walk past those massive walls, defiant of some many centuries, and wonder who else had walked there before me, and looked up at them, in wonder or fear or anticipation of glory. That brief glimpse will stay with me for a long time.
Too soon it was time to go. Alessandro pulled the car to the curb, we piled in, and off we went, leaving the historical district behind. It was like journeying through time when we arrived at a very modern shopping mall, I Granai, and trekked through its air conditioned interior to find Nuova Europa Bookstore. This was an airy, well lit and well stocked shop, and an audience was waiting for me. Gianfranco Franchi and Danilo Pieroni were the presenter and interpreter team who helped me, and it was very obvious they had worked together before and knew exactly what they were doing. They moved things along quickly which really helps keep the audience engaged when there is a language barrier to overcome. I signed many books following the presentation, and then we had to hurry of to find a cab to have dinner with Sergio. He fascinated me with talk about books and publishing in Italy. We agree on many authors. He, for instance, has published all of Joe Lansdale’s work! And Joe will be a guest in Italy in a few months for a comic and media convention. I told Sara that she would have a wonderful time with him, but will have to practice translating from Texan to Italian. 🙂
The day wound down with a 10 PM final signing at the Fanucci bookstore. Again, it was well attended and I was very well treated.
And, then, suddenly, it was time to go back to the hotel and prepare for an early flight the next morning. It was hard to say goodbye to Sara: she is an excellent author escort, and I think she and Joe Lansdale will have an absolute blast together!
I know there are so many people I have not thanked or taken special notice of; the days went by very quickly. I came home with a wealth of gifts: tea, an etching from Chiara, gift books, a handmade notebook with a cat on it and a lovely handmade cloth shopping bag. Pasta, jam, olive spread, and wonderful cookies. I cannot list everything here or every act of kindness or welcome that was extended to me.
I feel I have made some very special friends and hope to continue those friendships via the internet until I can return to Italy or welcome visitors to my coast of the US.
I will mention here that I arrived home to find that we had had a small housefire while I was gone. There was no structural damage, but lots of smoke and soot everywhere. The firemen were excellent, putting it out almost with a single blast and preventing it from reaching the gas pipes or becoming a full fledged electrical fire. We will have a lot of cleaning to do here, but right now I am simply over flowing with gratitude that no one was hurt. This will mean that I will be doing a lot less posting for a time and that personal email and messages on the various boards will have to wait. My office is in the basement, which is a large open room where the fire was. I want to take my big computer in for cleaning as I don’t know how much soot and ash it sucked in. So. I am here on Mr. Cranky, the laptop, for probably another week. And my hands do not enjoy this flat little keyboard.
So, please be patient as you wait for responses to email and posts! Your understanding is very appreciated.
Thank you, Italy and BloodMemories, Sergio and Parmafantasy for inviting me, and Sara for exhibiting a spirit of adventure. And for helping me lug this beast of a lap top on and off trains and up and down many sets of stairs.