Saturday, September 30, 2006

Going on a Roman Holiday

Now that Audrey Hepburn is in my head (thanks, GAP) and I need a vacation so badly, I think of my favorite movie, "Roman Holiday."

I remember watching this movie in high school and falling in love with everything about it. My favorite part is where she runs away and lolls about Rome by herself, indulging her own whims, getting her hair cut (a true makeover story!), eating ice cream on the Spanish Steps and finding freedom in a few moments.

That's me. Always looking for my own quiet time. I love to explore cities and new places by myself. I have no qualms about doing that.

My father loved this movie too. He fell in love with this movie back in India. He liked the romantic idea of walking around Italy with a pretty girl. His favorite was the scene at la Bocca de la Verita where Gregory Peck pretends to lose his hand to the Mouth of Truth and tricks the Princess.

My husband is a "Roman Holiday" fan, though I don't think he has a particular scene or moment he loves more than another.

We went to Italy for our first anniversary - just 3 days in Rome, 2 days in Venice and 1 day in Florence. I think Rome is a lot like Mumbai. Upon entry, you wonder where you are and want to leave. The people, the pollution, the chaos. Then, within a few days, you're so in love with it and don't want to leave. What were we thinking with just 3 days in Rome!

When we we came home, we rented this movie. It was exciting to pick out all the spots we had seen. It became a travelogue for us.

In Rome, we had to go see the Bocca de la Verita and actually rushed to the church right before closing. We practically tripped over marble ruins trying to get there. We made it just in time and took our pictures. Of course, they had a shop within the church where I bought my father a small souvenir replica of it. (He was thrilled with it!)

I had also insisted we go to the Piazza D'Espagne to see the steps. This is romantic on the literary level for me because Keats and Elizabeth Barrett Browning had lived there; there's now a museum dedicated to the artists. I was so excited.

Lo and behold! The Steps!

There were about 1000 other tourists taking pictures, students hanging around and Italians on cell phones all over. There were Punjabi men who set up shop to sell t-shirts and souvenirs at the base. How was I supposed to sit and eat gelato with my Gregory Peck? I was so upset and just wanted to leave.

I actually fell in love with Piazza Navona. Loved the cafes, the gypsy singers, and the artists. We actually bought some artwork from a street artist on our last night there. It was about 10pm and we only had $20 (USD) bills. Every bank was closed and we couldn't find an ATM. The artist said he'd accept the American cash without converting it. We found some Americans who exchanged it with us. We finalized on the artwork and were so excited with our purchase. Unfortunately we lost the artwork when we moved to our house. All we have left is the story.

"Roman Holiday" was on TV a few months ago and I had to stop flipping. My daughter was with me and kinda bored with a black and white movie. Then I said, "See that girl? She's a princess." And immediately, she snapped to attention. She watched a few minutes, but I know one day when she's older, this movie will let her dream.

I think this movie turns us all into runaway princesses, charming Gregory Pecks and Romans.


Anonymous said...

I liked Rome, especially Piazza Navonna, but hated the gypsies. It is a chaotic city and I would never like to live there but as a vacation place it is great.

Tracker said...

Hello I,

For your kind information, these Gypsies are some of the most downtrodden people in Europe. These people suffer in silence and isolation and are almost invisible in the social hierarchy in so called egalitarian Europe. The Gypsies are a victim of circumstance and discrimination, they immigrated to Europe from Northern India in the 14th century.

Recent immigrants from eastern Europe, Muslims from Turkey or for that matter Iran have higher leverage in European society than the Romani who have lived in Europe for centuries and yet continue to live at the bottom of the totempole due to one simple reason: skin color.


Anonymous said...

I lived in Europe for over 4 years and have seen gypsy women begging in the streets (in very aggressive ways). I have seen young gypsy men and children pickpocket non-gypsies and laugh at authority figures when they tell them to move to other areas, while the old gypsy men just lie around in their camps doing nothing. It is not so much the begging-although it could be less aggressive, or the old men who sit around while the others work to feed them that irritates me the most, but the thievery from innocent folk and the total disregard of authority the Gypsies have that offends me.
If a person lives in a society they need to accept the society rules, not create their own, where it is OK to treat a non-Gypsy like dirt.
If they are treated poorly it is because of these reasons and not because of skin color. If you've noticed, many Italians have a darker skin color than them anyway.