A walk in the park

19 Jan
Sometimes a park is just a park. Sometimes it is Italian. Sunday we took a long walk in Villa Ada, Rome’s second-largest park (Villa Doria Pamphilj is the largest) and happened upon some photo-worthy sites.
To look at a map, Villa Ada is close to our home, but it’s a bit of a PITA to get into on foot. We’ve walked along the periphery many times and waded into the shallows, but finally, we had time and good weather on our side so we ventured a bit farther.
One of the busier paths, Villa Ada. We stuck to the woodsy ones, while most of the Italians embraced the sun.

One of the busier paths, Villa Ada. We stuck to the woodsy ones while most of the Italians embraced the sun.

The grounds and house were once owned by the House of Savoy, Italian royalty. From this family sprang four kings of Italy and also beloved Queen Margherita. Eventually, the estate was purchased by a Swiss gentleman, Count Tellfner, who named it for his wife, Ada. The Savoys bought it back again in the early 20th century turning it into the royal residence until they were ousted in 1946. In the 1950s, it became a public park.
Today Villa Ada is a sprawling landscape of paths, frequented by dog walkers and runners, but it also contains some surprises.
Egyptian Embassy, Villa Ada.

Egyptian Embassy, Villa Ada.

The Egyptian Embassy occupies the old royal residence. It was given to Egypt by the Savoys as a token of their gratitude for the assistance provided during their exile in 1946. Imagine walking through Forest Park in Portland and coming across armed soldiers guarding a foreign embassy. Yeah, it’s that weird.
Rounding a corner in a distant end of the park, we came across an equestrian center, 3C – Country Club Cascianese. There were riding lessons in session in the lovely January sun, and it has an air of exclusivity about it, although I always think that when horses are involved. Quite a contrast to the Egyptian Embassy.
Equestrian center, Villa Ada.

Equestrian center, Villa Ada.

We’ll have to go back to explore a few more paths, and there’s an entire quarter of the park we didn’t get to. Much like our beloved Hoyt Arboretum in Portland, after a few visits we should know our way around. 
In the category of NOT a walk in the park, we had an interesting visit to our bank this week. In fact, we had three visits in two days. Ric’s debit card was cracked and required replacement, so we ventured into the main branch of BNL on Via Bissolati. We had to wait about 25 minutes to be served (there’s a take-a-number machine), but the teller was able to give him a new card and PIN on the spot. We were impressed! No waiting for the mail to deliver it to our flat! Who says Italian systems are inefficient?
All’s well until we stopped at the market on the way home. With a huge line at the cashier, my BNL card wouldn’t work.  We trotted down the street to the Parioli BNL and tried my card in the ATM. The ATM took my card! Said it was deactivated! A very nice teller in this branch retrieved it only to tell me my card was no good, that I had to go back to the branch in the center to get a new one and that she needed to destroy my card. She cut it up. 
So off we went the next day to BNL on Via Bissolati. Here the teller told me that my card was perfectly good, according to the system. “It didn’t work yesterday,” I said. He asked to see it. “No, I told you, the woman on Viale Parioli took it and cut it up.” He told me she was wrong, and since I did not bring the card to him, we should file a denuncia (a formal complaint about the “lost” property) with the Carabinieri!
I was doing this in Italian, and I hate it when they tell me “no” because then I have to enter into the realm of the Italian argument, and my skills really suffer. I am just not that eloquent and my pre-rehearsed sentences collapse in a useless heap around me. But one has to push back. If you take the first no and walk away, you absolutely will make things harder for yourself. So I pushed back. “Just because his colleague at the other branch made an error, it should not be my problem,” I told him in grammatically incorrect Italian. Much to my surprise, he agreed and said “Well next time, bring the card here if it doesn’t work,” and he went on to issue me my new card and PIN. Thank God he backed down because I am no match for an Italian who is up for an extended negotiating session!
I am pleased to report that both of us now have access to our funds, but it certainly was not a walk in the park.
Click on the photos below for a better view.

12 Responses to “A walk in the park”

  1. Marcia January 20, 2016 at 05:33 #

    Heavens, I’m impressed. Dealing with banks ( and remember I worked for one for 33 years!) is up there with various medical procedures….or root canals. You get the picture. You both amaze me!!!!


    • gooddayrome January 20, 2016 at 07:02 #

      You know, we were so pleased with the first visit when Ric walked out with his new card so easily! I was about to make a positive post about Italian banking efficiency but before we got home, my card had failed!


  2. John January 19, 2016 at 23:17 #

    Villa Ada was my playground as a child! I loved that park, and so many Americans (and tourists in general) never hear about it or go visit it. It definitely gives a totally different impression of Rome. I remember especially the towering “pini” – the umbrella pine trees that dotted the park. As a child a lived a few blocks away in Piazza Crati, then we moved a bit further away to Piazza Vescovio. Bei ricordi!


    • gooddayrome January 20, 2016 at 07:01 #

      Hello John. How nice that you remember Villa Ada so fondly! We’ll be wandering back there soon and hitting the Monte Antenne part of the park.


  3. Chloe Erkenbrecher January 19, 2016 at 23:11 #

    Exactly. I lived on Via Panama and if I wanted to get into town, I took the L bus, which I am sure no longer exists or if it does, it probably takes just as long to arrive. Sometimes more than half an hour and then 2 or 3 would arrive one right after the other.


    • gooddayrome January 20, 2016 at 07:03 #

      I don’t know the “L” bus…I think it is gone, but the buses still travel in pairs, like nuns. 😉


  4. Chloe Erkenbrecher January 19, 2016 at 20:02 #

    I lived across the street from Villa Ada and the only thing I saw was a bocce ball court. My husbands debit card was cracked 2 days before we left California last year. After numerous phone calls from France, he finally got his replacement 6 weeks later with no explanation of why it took so long.


    • gooddayrome January 19, 2016 at 21:11 #

      I love how this brings out stories! There’s always a bank nightmare!

      Were you on Via Panama? A beautiful neighborhood!


  5. Nigel January 19, 2016 at 18:02 #

    Yeah… but ….. would you have it any other way?

    I guarantee you that if you had a similar problem in the UK it would be a call centre in India for 90 minutes and a wait for the mail for a week. And the pin would come 5 days after that.

    You never had it so good.


    • gooddayrome January 19, 2016 at 18:36 #

      We did like the instant issuance…. We think, BTW, that the cancellation and reissuance of RIc’s card caused mine to be cancelled. And you are right: call centers are horrible.


  6. Maarja January 19, 2016 at 17:41 #

    Laurel, I love how you just stood up to the fellow! So I think that makes you pretty officially “Italian!”

    Liked by 1 person

    • gooddayrome January 19, 2016 at 17:42 #

      Thanks Maarja! Institutions are so baffling and intimidating!


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