[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.