Roman Winter, Roman Pandemic

The Mouth of Truth. I know you’re wondering how they got the bikes through the fence.

A year ago this week I attended the last social event pre-pandemic, a vernissage of an exhibit of ceramics at my studio/gallery space. And then for a few days I lived in paranoia as it became clear that the Coronavirus was spreading at events like that.

Thankfully no one took ill there, but for the next two months we watched the country, and the world change. Lockdown turned my vibrant home Rome into a ghost town.
The educational travel programs I had worked hard to plan were cancelled one by one. My students went home to continue lessons on zoom.

So now, a year later, this is what it looks like. Rome is still extremely quiet. On Valentine’s day I visited the saint’s skull as I often do, in a chapel in Santa Maria in Cosmedin. Outside the Bocca della Verità (mouth of truth) was empty, until a mother and son wheeled their bikes through the church, apologized to the priest, took their picture and were let out through the iron gate. No lines of tourists.

Museums are open on weekdays but who is going? The mood is still one of patience, waiting for time to be ripe to start up normal life. It will never be the same.

On a warm February (!) Sunday I turned over my rooftop vegetable garden. A year ago I decided to construct this garden (yes, in crates) as a lockdown alternative to going to market. It has served us well.

Lucia admiring Cosmatesque mosaics in Santa Maria in Cosmedin
The Trevi as empty as ever
The Pantheon, closed on weekends but you can peek in the crack in the door
San Valentine’s skull. How romantic!