Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Mr. President Comes to Trastevere

[UPDATE: Bush's visit to Trastevere was canceled today. A US Embassy warden message to US citizens in Rome this weekend regarding demonstrations in the city and security can be viewed here.]

Trasteverini: batten down the hatches! Bush is coming.

This morning I found a handful of photocopied flyers stuffed into my mailbox, part of which you see above. Black and white sheets crudely designed for a militant look. The headline reads: The heart of Rome refuses the war...flags, banners, sheets...let's show what we think about it.

It goes on to talk about how this Saturday, June 9, during his visit to Rome and Santa Maria in Trastevere (the church down the street where I got married a couple months ago!), word has it that Bush wants to stroll the cobblestone streets of my neighborhood. The flyer accuses Bush of looking for an easy photo op: "he wants to look like a perfect postcard tourist, smiling as he wanders the winding alleys, perhaps with a gelato in hand, just like any American tourist."

The flyer warns of the "militarization" of our streets, with snipers taking over our terraces for surveillance and security. (No one has yet contacted me to position themselves between the lemon trees in my roof garden, I can assure you. However if they do, I will most definitely serve them a shot of my homemade limoncello while kindly asking to take their picture for this little "blog" thing I'm working on.)

Uffa, ragazzi. As my luck would have it, this Saturday is one of my busiest days this summer, with two departures and two arrivals (I only have two apartments, so that's a full house). My poor guests.

The flyer says that Il Messaggero newspaper has already predicted "the entire neighborhood being taken over by the forces of law and order" starting on Thursday, with streets closed to get in and out, residents' cars being towed out of the neighborhood, garbage dumpsters being removed (I suppose in an effort to make the place look more idyllic).

Whoever designed the flyer calls all this "an affront in the face of our neighborhood, Trastevere, rightfully called 'the heart of Rome,' ... by its pure definition far from the grip of the powerful ... a hamlet of poets, artists, painters..." It urges the neighborhood residents to "hang posters, photos, banners, or anything else from windows, outside of bars and restaurants, to show everyone what we think of the war." Personally, I don't really want to get into politics, but I wouldn't be against hanging an American flag from my window if I could find one. Something tells me though, that's probably not exactly what the author of this flyer had in mind.

Folks. It remains to be seen what's going to go down here in a couple days. But I'm taking cover. Even though his official route doesn't pass under my front door, it's close enough to where I'll probably hear the helicopters whirring overhead, and I'm sure I'll hear some of the commotion.

But if I do see Bushie, I'll be sure to tell him to smile for my camera.

24 comments:

Caroline in Rome said...

Yeah, the Frenchman has already warned me that we shouldn't venture out this Saturday. The whole protest thing strikes me as kind of self-righteous. Anyway, I'm pretty sure that the President will be lucky if he sees anything at all of Trastevere other than secret service suits covering him every second of his visit.

On another note, I'm just trying to picture George Bush ordering food from an Italian menu.

Shelley - At Home in Rome said...

Caroline: You're so funny! Oh God, can you see him with the Italian menu? "Ahll have sommaem pass-tah, 'nna pih-zay." I can't listen to him anymore, he hurts my ears and I'm liable to start throwing things at the screen.

As for your observation about what he'll "see" of Trastevere, I think you're totally right. Can you imagine what it must be like? Good lord.

somepinkflowers said...

oh, no, poor you!

if you hadn't guests coming
you could hide out at the galleria d'arte moderna, say in the 19th century italian sculpture room...
i KNOW bush won't go near that...

with guests coming and you unable to leave, you are burnt toast,
a sitting duck, or something!

imagine your unfortunate guests.

if they are coming from america,
they are most likely trying to escape such political things!

good luck!
i shall send you my best prayers for political fallout survival.

through it all i remain,
as i am sure you do,
a loyal american,

:-)

PS--do not worry. bush will not order from an italian menu unless it has Pizza Hut stamped on the cover. trust me.

Johnaesthetica said...

I, too, would hang an American flag-- in protest of everything Bush stands for.

But, enough politics! All I can imagine is the hilarity of him ordering food: "Gimme oneyem gelatey."

Oh, classic.

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

Whoever wrote the call to arms seems to be a little melodramatic. Yes while some artists live in Trastevere, there is also a very large number of American students.

The President won't be there long and the Secret Service and advance teams have been doing this for years. Snipers are not going to take over the entire Piazza.

I'm sure Bush is used to the "Go Home" flyers by now. Like you and Caroline, I also wonder what he will eat. Does he know there isn't an Olive Garden in Rome?

Laura on the other hand would probably like to see the art and eat some good local food. She is the one who convinced him to make the recent state dinner with Queen Elizabeth a white tie event.

Shelley - At Home in Rome said...

Somepink: Pizza Hut, that's a good one! None of those around here.

Johna: Yes, the hanging of the flag would be the statement: Yes, I'm American. Yes, I'm proud of that and proud of my country and my fellow citizens. Yes, I'm behind the troops. And yes, I'm with the majority of my fellow citizens who are now ready for a change in the Oval Office. No?
And... gelatey! Love that. Can you just see it?

NYC: Oh, I know. This is the fringe "communist propaganda" faction and I'm sure they love this opportunity to try to work us all up into a frenzy about big bad Bushie. Oh, please, aren't we so over that by now? And yeah, the whole sniper thing was just a wee bit dramatic, wouldn't you say?

David said...

So my wife and I leave Chicago on June 9 to escape it all and immerse ourselves in Italy. Only to arrive during the chaos of a Bush visit.

Great.

I hope Italians won't be hostile to two Americans just trying to relax and eat/drink. I might have to take the wife and find a nice quiet wine bar off the beaten path and let the storm subside.

Sigh.

You plan a wonderful vacation and the world just won't leave you alone.

I suppose Bush will be in Rome and the Pope will be in NY! Go figure...

Shelley - At Home in Rome said...

David: I am going to copy here part of my response to your email to me, just in case other readers are having some of the same doubts as a result of reading my post.

I'm afraid my post must have generated some unjustified worries, I think after living here for 6 years I'm better at taking this stuff in stride and maybe I should have given a bit of context. Those flyers are distributed by radical left-wing groups and in any case they're not trying to incite violence, they're simply trying to incite a movement towards peaceful protest. There's nothing to worry about. Chances are good that had you not known Bush was going to be in town, you probably wouldn't have even noticed a difference in Rome. Italians aren't against Americans, although many are against the Bush government.

In any case, my guess is that the only thing that might affect an arrival on June 9 could possibly be traffic delays due to blocked streets, and that isn't even a given. There are couple of demonstrations planned but there are almost always demonstrations going on in Rome. And this is high tourist season. American tourists aren't going to be singled out. I've lived here like I said for six years and never experienced any type of direct anti-American discrimination.

The Italian authorities are extremely well-organized when it comes to visits like this. Do you remember how they pulled off the pope's funeral? This is small stuff in comparison.

Kataroma said...

Hmmm...I was under the impression that Trastevere was full of yuppies and American students. I don't think artists or poets could afford the rents there.

David - I agree with Shelley - the only thing to worry about is traffic delays. The protests in Rome against the Bush administration will be peaceful just like the numerous protests which have occurred in the US - some of which I'm proud to have attended. :)

Shelley - At Home in Rome said...

Kata: That's the general impression that people seem to have, but the truth is that there are still quite a few Trasteverini as well (like my husband's family), who have seen this neighborhood through the good, the bad, and the ugly...property values weren't always as high as they are today... believe it or not, many years ago it used to be one of the down and out neighborhoods, and consequently no one wanted to move in!
And, I can think of at least one old-school poet/artist...the pupazzaro !

Kataroma said...

Shelley - oh yes of course. I should know that too since my dad lives in Tribeca, one of the most expensive areas of New York, but amazingly is not wealthy! (he's a retired professor from one of the city college campuses.) Anyway he moved there is 1977 when it was quite a scary neighbourhood, there were rats and the only people in the area were artists and musicians. Most of his friends were amazed that he could bear t live there but it was the only areas he could afford. How times have changed. Now everything thinks my "absent minded professor" dad is some kind of canny real estate investor!

Romerican said...

I read bush was going to the sant'egidio center (in trastevere) too!! why, because he's so concerned with immigrants' rights in rome? oh pulease, he's ready to ban immigrants from USA!
anyway, the city of rome is concerned because they're not sure they can maintain order in a neighborhood like trastevere- not because of the rowdy locals but because of the small allies:
http://www.repubblica.it/2007/05/sezioni/cronaca/bush-visita-roma/allarme-black-bloc/allarme-black-bloc.html

FinnyKnits said...

OMG - hilarious! First Tom Cruise and now this? All the freaks come to your neighborhood.

If you *accidently* empty the cat box off your roof when he's walking by, that wouldn't be the worst thing ever.

Julie said...

:-o A friend of mine almost passed out when Bush waved at her. Crazy.

J.Doe said...

Romerican,

Bush is not against immigration,or elsee my husband and I wouldn't have been able to immigrate to the US legally, nor is he against illegal immigration since the bill he is pushing amounts to a general amnesty for 12 million illegal immigrants.

Romerican said...

in response to j.doe:
“Bush is not against immigration,or else my husband and I wouldn't have been able to immigrate to the US legally”
I don’t know what you or your husband do for work, but I DO know that if a “point system” (like the one they are proposing) actually existed in the 1960s when both of my Italian my parents went to America, they would NOT have been allowed to enter because they were 1) poor 2) knew NO English 3) had only completed elementary school 4) had no real “skills”. So this issue really hits home for me and many other first-generation Americans whose parents went to America with nothing, in search of a better life and opportunities… and that is what they found!

Isabelle said...

Good luck Shelley, because it sounds like it's going a severe "casino" in Rome this week end !
I'mstill laughing out loud at the sound of him ordering a "gelatey" ;-))))

J.Doe said...

Romemerican,
Your parents could have applied for a Z visa which is what Bush is proping, and stayed in the US indefinitely.

Maureen said...

People who speak with accents shouldn't throw stones -- and everybody speaks with an accent.

Shelley - At Home in Rome said...

Agreed! What hurts my ears isn't the accent, it's the way he (mis)uses the English language. I would have never gotten through my college public speaking class if I made even a fraction of the grammatical and lexical errors that he makes. There's no excuse for a man in his position to have such poor public speaking skills.

Kraft said...

They're removing the dumpsters to reduce the number of locations someone could plant a bomb, hide as a sniper, etc.

Shelley - At Home in Rome said...

Thanks Kraft, that makes sense. I had read that they were cleaning up the graffiti in the areas where he would walk, so I naturally assumed that the garbage bin removal had something to do with that. In my area they've been trying an initiative to collect garbage at people's doorsteps because they want to "beautify" the neighborhood by removing the trash cans.

mcmlxix said...

Romerican, I'm afraid you don't quite understand Bush's immigration proposals.

True, he wants to increase security and tighten the borders to illegal movement, but he also wants to significantly increase legal immigration influx including for unskilled workers.

Anonymous said...

They can't clean up the graffiti in the area there is too much of it! Where would you start! I am in Trastevere with family and was expecting to leave tomorrow... car parked on the street... now I think we have to flee the scene before the whole thing clamps up and our car is towed... thanks Bush. BTW I think this place is the biggest security threat you could imagine! The secret service must be freaking!