Santa is gone, but the Befana is coming…

La Befana vien di notte  /  The Befana comes at night
Con le scarpe tutte rotte  /  In worn out shoes
Col vestito da romana  /  Dressed like a Roman
Viva viva la Befana!  /  Long live the Befana!

– An Italian Rhyme

Image from Samsonite Australia.

Click per la versione italiana.

For those who grew up in Rome, it may be hard to believe that this rhyme could be considered quite bizarre.  For most Romans, the Befana Rhyme creates a wonderful nostalgia for childhood, and paints colorful and beautiful images of the past.

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Location Feature: The Baths of Caracalla!

If you are in Rome or traveling to the city, then you may have noticed that the weather has been…well, unseasonably warm with a dash of intermittent cold and rain.  Truly, there are still days warm enough for expats and tourists (used to really cold weather) to break out sandals and other summer wear, or light/moderate autumn clothing.

With this weather, there is one site that you should visit while you have the chance: The Baths of Caracalla (Le Terme di Caracalla).

The Baths of Caracalla, ~AD 216

The Baths of Caracalla, ~AD 216

In the vicinity of the Basilica of St. John Lateran (the seat of the diocese of Rome, today presided over by Pope Francis), take a stroll down Via dell’Amba Aradam to the sumptuous view of Piazza Numa Pompilio and the Baths of Caracalla.  You can also reach the Baths via the metro line B’s Circo Massimo stop, especially if you are coming from Testaccio or some parts of Trastevere.

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Muri Puliti, Popoli Muti: Walls, Graffiti & Roman Tradition

lutero

Click per la versione italiana

Muri puliti, popoli muti (“clean walls, dumb people”) is a famous saying that has accompanied Rome’s long social and political history, extending beyond the walls of the beautiful capital to encapsulate a trend common to the entire Italian peninsula: graffiti.

The history of graffiti, or generally-speaking writing on walls, is not rooted in modern times.  Furthermore, the spontaneous practice of wall graffiti provides clear evidence of a population’s need to make openly make social commentary and explain concepts.  Italians call it scrittura di strada e di piazza (“street and piazza writing”), a means of communication, engaged in by various members of society from different social strata, that is equivalent and parallel to official and institutional forms.

Graffiti came to be seen as directly expressing popular thought, and covered a wide range of topics, many of which were incised into the walls of ancient Rome.  The curious passerby was treated to numerous graffiti that represented men, women, political caricatures, blatant erotic scenes infused with ritual and religion.

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