Tag Archives: Rientro

Il grande rientro

3 Sep
3 September 2016. The deserted streets of the past month are once again full of buses, cars, and motorini. The kids with their unmuffled  POS cars wake us periodically between 23:00-01:00 as they zoom down the hill behind our bedroom and careen around the corner giving us an extra blast of over-revved engine as they pass the front of the building. (The landlady said this was a quiet street! But then she’s Italian and sleeps with the windows closed against a possible chill when it’s still 79 degrees Fahrenheit at bedtime. If we are lucky it’s a chilly 68 when we wake up.)
There were almost no car horns to be heard for the last 4 or 5 weeks, and no double-parking. So many closed businesses. This all seems like a dream as the streets are once again clogged, the impatient drivers leaning on their horns, and an open parking spot is as rare as a Lutheran church in Rome. Stores re-opened with their “New Collections” displayed: the wools, browns, and grays of the autumn wardrobe. Newstands sprang back to life with fresh magazines in stock and the florists are once again oases of color on many street corners.
End of summer

Beaches will be empty soon. And delightful for those not into the usual cheek-by-jowl beach scene.

This, my friends, is Il Grande Rientro: The return to reality as thousands upon thousands of Romans give up their beach chairs and umbrellas and head back to work. School won’t start for another week-or-so, and that will add another layer of congestion back as each child is accompanied to the door of the nearby elementary school by a parent or nanny.
In every store and restaurant you are asked “Comè andata la Sua vacanza?” (How was your vacation?) Or perhaps “Dovè siete andati in ferie?” (Where did you go on holiday?)
So many people go away in August. SO MANY. Apartments are shuttered, entire apartment buildings have no windows lit at night, and renovation work continues day-and-night as contractors struggle to complete work while the owners are on holiday. I cannot do justice to describe what it is like to experience this thing. It is a phenomenon one has to live through to believe.
The great return even gets news coverage due to the crowded autostrada.

The great return even gets news coverage due to the crowded autostrada.

Then on Monday it was like a switch was thrown and the city was refilled from a firehose full of cars and people. And apparently this rientro is quite traumatic for the Italian who have been away for four weeks. There are articles about how to make it less stressful, what to eat (digestion being top-of-mind) to ensure a healthy return. Some sources offer practical and pragmatic tips. Others, like the Corriere della Sera, offer a lighthearted approach in 10 dishes to console yourself with at the end of vacation, including gelato, pizza, chocolate cake, and a Mumbai burger. It’s a funny piece.
Soon this will all seem normal. It’s the sudden onset that is so shocking. Just as things are heating up even more next week with schools coming online, we will escape to the U.K. for our next adventure. I’ll write to you from the road. Until then ben rientro!

Il rientro

8 Sep
Il rientro is the period when the Italians come back from their August vacations. Back from the beach, from the mountains, or from wherever they have traveled. During il reintro people talk about where they’ve been, when they got back, what a state of stress they are in! Yesterday at the grocery store the woman in front of me queried: “O cielo! Di chi e’ questo carrello?”  (Heavens! Whose cart is this?) She had grabbed the wrong grocery cart and was unloading someone else’s merchandise. “Ehi! Il stress dopo vacanza!” she exclaimed. (Ah! The stress after vacation!) Yup, life is rough for an Italian mamma who spent the month of August at the beach.
Stores and restaurants that were closed for August are reopening, new merchandise for fall is arriving, and the streets are full again with no place to park except in pedestrian crossings and in doppia fila. It is SRO again on the buses.
Only in Roma would this be news. A car belonging to teh Ministry of the Interior was parked illegally and held up a bus for half-an-hour.
Only in Roma would this be news. Yesterday a car belonging to the Internal Ministry — which includes the State Police — was parked illegally and held up a bus for half-an-hour.
We are in our own re-entry, just back from the U.S. on August 28. We were fortunate to enjoy a few days of quietude in Roma before the hoards returned. Each day last week, piano piano it got busier in the streets. 
We had huge thunderstorms last Friday and Saturday, clearing the air and lowering the temperatures. We have not had to turn the apartment into a cave during the day, nor use any fans, for three days now. It is heavenly to sleep in the cool with the windows open and no fan. Unfortunately, the motorini still buzz by at all hours. The skies have some clouds most days, a pleasant change after the heat. We’ll still get many warm days (today is about 80 degrees Fahrenheit/27 Celsius), but the long stretches of hot hot hot days with nights barely dipping to 75F/24C should be over.
Roma is in the process of trying to clean up for the Jubilee Year that starts December 8. Proclaimed by Papa Francesco, the Jubilee is expected to draw huge crowds to Roma and the rest of Italy. Roma needs to look good for this. While there is an official effort with increased street cleaners having been hired, there is also a grass-roots movement, “I am Rome.” I do think the city seems a little cleaner than it was 6 weeks ago, although apparently people still do not know how to pick up dog poop.
Just today the mayor announced fine or 150-200 Euro for throwing cigarette butts on the ground. A bold move and welcome! No longer can smokers do the famous lancia where they pinch the butt between thumb and forefinger and hurl it at the street. I am not sure who will have time for writing tickets for butts, but today I saw a policewoman with Polizia Roma Capitale actually writing parking tickets. Miracles happen!
It’s good to be back home in the land of fabulous food and coffee. We had a lot of good meals in the U.S., but the food is fresher here and requires less seasoning. Pizza in Italy is simply THE BEST, and it doesn’t cost as much to eat out at a pizzeria in Roma as it did a couple of places we ate in the U.S. Wine in Italy is far cheaper too.
Now that's a pizza! Ric Barton displays a work-of-art in Roma.
Now that’s a pizza! Ric Barton displays a work-of-art in Roma.
Regarding wine, my brother had an excellent observation for those pursuing the best selection of wine in the world. In France, one finds French wines; in Italy, Italian. Where can you find wines from everywhere? Yup, Stati Uniti. The selection wines available in the U.S. outnumbers the variety of pasta in Italy, but oh, Lord, the wine is inexpensive in Italy!
For most Italian kids, school starts Thursday. In Italy, they get the whole summer off, from early June to early September, like we used to. Why do so many American schools start in August? That’s when families should be getting in a final camping trip, swimming at the shore, having picnics. I think they do that right in Italy. Il rientro in September is for everyone.
We plan to enjoy more local outings in the area now that temperatures are moderate. There is much to Roma that we have not seen. After all, una vita non basta! (One lifetime is not enough!)
Enjoy your own rientro, wherever you may be!
%d bloggers like this: