New year’s eve 2009: Genzano di Roma

Posted: December 7, 2012 by jennroig in Chronicles, English, Miscellaneous, Photography, Travels
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Genzano is a small town in the outskirts of Rome, one among many similar neigboring little towns surrounding the ancient capital, basically as old as the eternal city. Italians call them I Castelli Romani.

That’s where my cousin lives. There I spent my New Year’s eve of 2009.

By that time, I had been living out of Cuba for only 6 months, all of them in Aarhus, Denmark, where I started my masters periplus. So, the worst part of adaptation had already been left behind. My face had recovered from some frostbite, I had already a better idea of how to dress for the Danish cold winter, and I think I was getting some idea about how humidity can alter your temperature perception. I had experienced how it feels to live constantly during night time, considering that in Denmark I got to classroom when it was still dark outside, and came back to the students dorm when the sun had vanished from the sky. I had suffered from constant chilling rain, and not been able to quite understand what I was buying at the supermarket, because I can’t understand Danish language, nor Swedish, nor German -thank God I’m a good eater. After all that, I was very happy to land in Italy, where I expected to find sun, great meals, and the relief of a language I was familiar with. But mostly, the sense of being among part of my scattered family.

santa clausI arrived on cloudy day at the Fiumicino, Rome’s biggest international airport. I say “biggest”, because there’s another called “Ciampino”, but smaller, mostly used for flights inside Europe. And even though it was winter in Rome, I felt a bit warm. It’s amazing how fast our bodies adapt to the most different and even extreme circumstances.

I could only take a glimpse of Rome. And I couldn’t guess then I would get sick immediately, preventing me from visiting the city, where I could only go later, already in the new year.

(cc jennroig)

(cc jennroig)

First thing that hit me there was these creepy Santas climbing their way to windows, balconies, or any other entrance way to homes.santa 3

Apart from that, Genzano is a gorgeous town.  Sometimes you get the feeling that at any moment some bold Roman dressed with sandals and a white toga would turn a corner and pass you by.I Genzanensi -the unhabitants of Genzano- are people who enjoy listening to you whenever you are willing to admire their lands, houses, and traditions.

In general, it is a more liberal and progressive community, which at that time had very little appreciation for Berlusconi, inglorious Italian PM. That, and many other qualities, result in an impression that you are dealing with very nice, working and beautiful people, fond of a peaceful lifestyle, full of grapes, cheese, coffee, pasta, beef and bread.

In fact, Genzano’s bread is famous.

Genzano's bread

Genzano’s bread

As it is the L’Infiorata, a spring festival they celebrate honoring nature, flowers, history, Arts and beauty.

(cc jennroig) L'Infiorata 2010

(cc jennroig) L’Infiorata 2010

Another source of local pride is the Nemi Lake. As many other lakes in that area, the Nemi was formed over the crater of a volcano, which I really hope will never wake up again. The Nemi town, and Genzano, share both sides of the lake. If you look at the banks, you’ll se kayaks and little boats that people use in the summer to exercise, or just enjoy. nemiAlthough it is not as large in size as the Albano Lake -also known as Castel Gandolfo Lake- Il Nemi has its own reasons to be famous. To say the , its bottom is the grave where Caligula’s great ship is supposed to be resting. According historians, Caligula made that ship ship built, with the essential purpose of an elaborate floating palace, which contained quantities of marble, mosaic floors, heating and plumbing such as baths among its amenities.

As I remember it today, Genzano means shelter to me. sunset squareI returned there as many times as possible, whenever I had holidays between semesters. Later, when I had to come with an idea for my masters thesis, I looked for something that I had to go there to research.

Genzano means family, sunny afternoons and great sunsets, like that one I saw during my first walk to the square where some nights local bands may play. It’s the place where I tasted the best coffee ever, the best pizza ever, and first and best artichokes, prepared by a mom, someone’s mom.

Although it may not all be fairy tales, because Genzanesi and Italians in general need to deal with their feelings towards foreigners and migrants – no matter if Polish, Latin, gypsy, Balkan, Indian or African heritage- as much as they must find a solution to turn around the economy and take it up to the levels where it used to be.

But I spent some great time there. If you go to Rome, try to save some day to go around those hills. I can promise you’ll be gladly surprised.


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