Ale and I went to a symphony orchestra concert at the Auditorium. When the lights came up at the intermission, we in the peanut gallery look down at the expensive “platea” seats on the main floor and Ale says, “Hey, there’s Bruna Vespa.” Those of you in Italy will know him as the host of the nightly national talk show Porta a Porta, where, inexplicably, the theme music is “Gone With the Wind” and when a guest enters, Vespa discreetly pushes a button to ring a doorbell and you hear DING-DONG and it’s like “Oooh, who’s there?” Then they cue up some more “Gone With the Wind” and the guest walks in. So cheesy.
When Ale came back from walking around during intermission, he says to me, “Hey, I saw Ciampi out there.” Ciampi. Yes, THAT Ciampi. No less than the 10th President of the Italian Republic. “Whoa! Where’d you see him?” I ask. “He was waiting in line for the bathroom with me.” I start laughing. Hey, even an ex-president is only human.
Here are some other personal examples of how daily life in Rome can have you rubbing elbows with the famosi:
- One day two summers ago I was waiting on a street corner near my office, going to lunch, and traffic suddenly stopped. The main street was deserted, not a single car moving in either direction. We weren’t allowed to cross the street. No one moved. It was one of the most surreal things I’ve experienced here in Rome. After about 5 minutes of dead nothing on this busy main street, Pope Benedetto comes by, standing up in his pope-mobile, waving to the crowd. I was “this close.” Of course that was before I started blogging, so didn’t have my camera in my purse. Doh!
- When I went to see Nanni Moretti’s last film, Il Caimano, at a certain point I noticed my colleague’s son playing soccer on screen. Turns out he goes to school with Moretti’s son and that’s how he got to be an extra.
- Eating at Augustarello, a super down-home and rough around the edges trattoria in my neighborhood, we spot Martina Stella, who I think lives around the corner from me. She was the man-stealer in L’Ultimo Bacio.
- We used to get our traditional cappuccino and cornetto all the time at this one bar near Piazza S. Cosimato, that is now sadly under new management. Sadly, because the cashier there was this feisty old lady who we adored. One time we went to see the latest Carlo Verdone (Italian comic legend) film, and at a certain point, there she was, feisty as ever, with one rude line to yell at someone in the movie. Hilarious! We’re like: that’s the lady we pay for our cappuccino! Turns out Verdone knew her too, and appreciated the comic value of her energetic Roman-ness, so gave her a one-liner in his movie.
- Speaking of Verdone, Ale has had a few “sightings” of both him and Cristian De Sica, another famous Italian comic actor, at coffee bars near the Monteverde Vecchio neighborhood, where I think both of them live.
- When I was getting my hair cut a while back, my hairstylist, who works alone, got a call on his cell phone. “No, I told you, you can’t just come in here like that! Oh, fine. But hurry.” Next thing I know, my hairstylist Alberto is washing some guy’s hair in the sink next to me, and I can swear I recognize him from somewhere. I don’t really watch Italian TV but I got to chatting with him and he was telling me how he’s “the voice” of Will Farrell here in Italy. (You do know that every foreign actor has an Italian voice counterpart that does his or her voice in every film? It doesn’t change until the dubber dies!) I looked the guy up online and it was Pino Insegno, a minor celebrity on the TV and stage circuit here in Rome. I’ll never look at Will Farrell the same way.
- Another time when I went to lunch during work, I saw these yellow signs everywhere that said “To Set.” Not trying to be too discreet about that one! As I walked by the Pantheon, a huge crowd was gathered. Turns out they were filming a scene from Ocean’s 12 that day, and everyone was waiting for someone like Brad Pitt or George Clooney to come out.
- At our church one morning I saw a guy with a ton of bodyguards, praying silently. It was another ex-president, Cossiga.
- Speaking of our church, we’re taking this mandatory pre-marriage class, that frankly is more than a tad dull. One night though when we show up for our “lesson,” our teacher says, “I was thinking, instead of having a class tonight, maybe you would like to go into the church for a prayer. There’s some Nobel Prize winner visiting, Tutu someone…” We’re like: Desmond Tutu? Winner of the Nobel Peace Prize? Seeing him speak definitely beat the normal lesson!
Celebrity sighting to me sometimes seems like an exotic sport with wild animals. I sure wouldn’t want to be one of them.
Have you ever had any celebrity “sightings”? What do you think about the whole phenomenon of spotting celebrities?