Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Rome Journal: Roman Stories

The Pamphili gardens are like an oasis and large enough to get lost in. From San Pancrazio at the top of the Gianicolo, the Villa Doria Pamphili appears almost out of nowhere. You come to a fork in the road. You can proceed along the Via Aurelia or take the Via Fontaneia which leads into Monteverdi—a Roman suburb that’s far from tourist Rome. Pasolini was a resident early in his career-- after leaving the apartment he shared with his mother at Via Tagliere Giovanni 3 near the Ribibbia prison (what is now the last stop on Line B). But the warren of streets around Monteverdi with their small cafes, inauspicious flower shops and markets including a kosher butcher are precarious by virtue of their anonymity. The one thing about monuments is that they're literally landmarks; they situate you without having recourse to Google maps. Roman Stories is the tile one of the Pulitzer Prize winning Bengali-born New Yorker writer Jhumpa Lahiri’s books and it's significant that her characters go unnamed. Any city is characterized by one degree or other of proliferation and marginality, but the Rome that’s far from  famous historical sites like the Caracalla Baths is profoundly confounding, partially due to its lived-in quality. If you want to have a senior moment where you forget where you are, Monteverdi is the place to come.

listen to the playlist for Francis Levy's story collection, The Kafka Studies Department

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