I wasn’t in Rome last March, so I didn’t know that when the calendar turns from February to March, Rome goes crazy! For the last half of January and all of February, Rome is tranquil: few tourists; many shops and restaurants are closed, even on Piazza Navona; cool, rainy weather is the norm; and restaurant tables are available without reservation. I LIKE it that way!
But everything changed yesterday, and Centro Storico was suddenly mobbed with people. The pope’s departure? The papal election? Spring break? Spring fever? I don’t know, but Rome is nuts! I walk home from school past the Pantheon (I know, tough commute!). Yesterday I practically crawled home, delayed by huge groups of school kids taking tours and lost tourists stopping every few steps to check their maps (in the middle of the street, of course). I had to have a gelato in Campo de’ Fiori to recover!
This morning sleepy Piazza Farnese was pazza (crazy)! As usual I stopped at Caffè Farnese for a cappuccino and cornetto, expecting my normal peaceful breakfast, but no. A young woman was being interviewed for TV or a documentary at one of the outside tables. Naturally, a crowd stood by watching the filming. A woman with an adorable dog sat down to rest at one of the cafe tables, drawing a crowd of oohing and aahing admirers and blocking the entrance to the cafe. I’m not much of a dog person, but even I felt like oohing and aahing. Three huge tour groups of students listened to their guides describing Piazza Farnese and snapped photos, oblivious to oncoming traffic. And suddenly the entire piazza was blanketed with black limousines and police. I didn’t see them arrive, but obviously something was up at the French embassy. Traffic was tied in knots.
Because of the market, Campo de’ Fiori is always busy in the morning, but this morning it was impossible. At one point I couldn’t cross the street because of the hoards of people and traffic. I stopped at Forno Campo de’ Fiori at 10:45 or so to buy bread and couldn’t get in the door! Truly! I returned about 15 minutes later to find maybe five people there, and I emerged, clutching my precious loaf. I have no idea what happened—maybe the bakers were putting out pizza bianca fresh from the oven. If they were, it was gone by the time I got inside. I then went to the supermarket, where there’s rarely a line, and the line snaked around two corners! It took me 20 minutes to reach the checkout counter!
It’s all so sudden! Mamma mia! Pazienza!
P.S., I wanted to call this post “March madness,” but the term is copyrighted so I couldn’t. It would have been a perfect description of Rome right now, and March Madness is one of my favorite sports times of the year. Oh well.