The 3 Faces of Rome - Be & See

The 3 Faces of Rome – Be & See


When I first heard about the SENIOR VOLUNTEERING, I couldn’t believe that I would be able to relive my experience at age 20, when I was selected as an American living in the U.S., to spend a semester in Paris, France, on a JUNIOR YEAR ABROAD program.   Forty-three years later, now a Franco-American, my enthusiasm hasn’t lingered and a month of “osmos-ing” into the Italian culture and especially the Roman way of life has been fabulous.  For years, I’ve dreamt of speaking this lovely melodious language and being able to understand those who speak it best by experiencing their lifestyle. My dream has come true and here I am in Rome with two companions from Pau, France, all of us members of the ITALIE PAU BEARN Association.  In the past two and a half weeks, I have discovered 3 faces of this incredible city of Rome:

-   The music of the language I’ve been able to hear, learn and somewhat speak in such little time through the one to one experience with a real Italian teacher and the daily contact with the natives; 

-   The life of a real Roman, caring for a condo in the heart of the Esquilino Quarter amongst natives and non-natives of this bustling cosmopolitan center, buying fruits and vegetables at the international market down the street and having a real Roman colazione on a busy side-walk caffè, while 

-   Doing the tourist act so as not to miss a single one of some of the most beautiful art pieces and monuments in the world, all in this Imperial City.

As a volunteer, I go to a small village-like film festival, Mini Arena Pigneto, in a working man’s quarter on the edge of the city in the PIGNETO area of Rome, where everybody knows everybody.   I have met and loved the generous, passionate and so open-armed, Patrizia Salvatori and her husband, Pino, both typically Italian with their true Roman accents.  Their love of American and French film-making amazes me and made me look at Alfred Hitchcock’s work over the 20th century in a very different way, especially when I had to guess what was being said because all of the films are dubbed in Italian!!!  Patrizia’s extensive knowledge of the evolution of cinema since its birth and the excitement and charisma she delivers to the 50 some odd viewers, is definitely inviting.  So, every evening I spend three to four hours chatting with Pino and Patrizia in my broken Italian, while waiting for the locals to arrive and then we watch the film together.  I help fill in the admission ticket information and collect a few euros before the film starts while observing the conversations and interaction between the participants and their hosts.  This week’s theme is ALL THAT JAZZ, bringing back memories of music of the fifties when I was little!  Oh, how I wish I could put Patrizia and Pino in my bags and take them with me back to Pau! 

Our neighbors, Aldo and Teresa, are darlings.  Aldo, 86, opens his window facing our kitchen every morning to wish us a fun and happy day and kids with us, giving us  tips on what to do, or not, what to see, or not and where to eat, or not.  Our condo was built in 1872 and I try to imagine how it must have been at the beginning.  I love the 4 meter-high ceilings and marble floors.  The view of beautifully landscaped terraces lies before us from every window of our top floor apartment.  The elevator I’m sure dates back to the first ones ever built; patience is a virtue, if we don’t want to climb six stories which feel more like 12!!!


BEING a Roman for a month is fulfilling my dream and I’m sure I will return with a feeling of belonging to this culture without having to throw a coin into the Fountain of Trevi!


Madeleine Duboe

02/07/2013 – 30/07/2013  Roma, Italia

Progetto MOVE 50+II

Cemea del Mezzogiorno onlus

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