Today, all of the residents of my little quartiere here in Roma were invited to an inauguration of the piazza which they just put in, replete with trees, shrubs, benches…all surrounded by carefully bricked walls; the whole thing so inviting, I wager that by tonight, the graffiti artists will have their own little inauguration party: I give it 72 hrs. max before those cute walls are totally covered in soccer slogans and hieroglyphs on an order only dreamt of by Egyptian sovereigns.
So, as the flyers posted all around the neighborhood read, the festa began at 11am. So as to arrive on time, I set my alarm on my mac precisely. To 11:10.
Reaching the front door to my apartment building, I realized I had forgotton the most important thing when attending any public event in all of Italy: my cellphone? Business cards? No. A newspaper.
Finally arriving at the piazza at 11:15, workers were doing the usual last-minute clean-up. No City Officials, no drinks. Only a small group of neighbors huddled around expectedly waiting for something to happen. And, true to form, nothing did.
11:30 and I finished the paper. While I’m used to these self-important dignitaries showing up fashionably tardy (which, in italian, btw, is tardi), by 11:40 I gave up and went back home.
I was reminded that last weekend, they had a fireworks display (for the kiddies). Of course, it was to start at midnight, although it was certainly dark enough by 9pm-already way past bedtime. I agonized over what time I should awake my niece & nephew. 11:50? 12:10? The first explosion? Deciding they’d be too tired to enjoy them by then, I decided upon 11:55. After all, they'd been testing them all day long. The fireworks finally came on – precisely- at the point at which we all retired under the covers, 1:20am.
They say that we spend over 7 years of our lives waiting. Whoever came up with that statistic had never set foot in Italy. From lines to buy bread, to the infernal postal office (I’d say 7 years were spent solely there), to train ticketing, to the now-epic proportions of airport security (not to mention the luggage retrieval which sometimes takes longer in Italy than the flight itself), I imagine that Italians live to be the longest on Earth in order to make up for all the time they spent waiting.