26 May 2008

Sounds of Italy

People whistle a lot in Italy. We first noticed it when we moved from our B&B (near the Vatican) to our neighborhood (Testaccio). Mia and I spent about 20 minutes in a cab with a driver hooked on soft rock. He whistled along. As Mia put it, “He was a good whistler!” Whistling always reminds me of Andy Griffith. Ever since that observation, though, I have noticed that characters in the films we watch in class, men on the street, and people in the park walk along whistling merrily. Little children often are singing as they walk. Whistling is alive and well.

When we visited Tuscany this past weekend, we stopped in Florence for a few hours on our way home. As we walked by the line for the Galleria dell’Accademia, a group, waiting in line, burst into song. Not only were they singing, but they were singing gospel, and singing it well. Here’s a small sample:

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While we were staying up by the Vatican, we began to notice the prevalence of the bells. Bells ring in the morning and in the evening. Sometimes they just chime the hour. On Sundays, however, the bells at the Vatican ring almost non-stop. They ring the hour, quarter-hour, half-hour, three-quarter-hour, and each time they ring for at least five minutes. Even in the middle of the night. Church bells are another prominent sound in Rome. When we visited the Vatican, I recorded a bit of the bells ringing, as you can hear here:

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Finally, when we returned from Florence, we took a bus back to our neighborhood, as the Metro was inexplicably closed. When we reached our neighborhood, we had a hunch why they migh have closed the subway trains. When Roma wins, the city goes mad. We have the Roma club in our neighborhood, so the streets were lined with people, all dressed in red and gold. Even the dogs had Roma shirts on. The park had a giant screen set up, where, presumably, the people in the streets had seen the game. They were cheering, yelling, chatting, and the younger ones thronged the streets. Our bus had to stop because so many were there, and they pounded on the windows and cheered. Cars drove around with cheering fans waving giant flags and honking their horns insistently until 2 am. Although I heard better samples, this is an example of the sounds of the street, from our apartment last night. Forza Roma!

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Works Cited

Fiona Wild, ed. Eyewitness Travel Rome (London: Dorling Kindersley Limited, 1993), 2007 edition.

Hawthorne, Nathaniel. The Marble Faun. New York: Penguin Books, 1990/1860.

James, Henry. Daisy Miller. New York: Penguin Books, 2005/1878.

Powers, Alice Leccese. Italy in Mind: An Anthology. Toronto: Vintage Books, 1997.

Steves, Rick. Rick Steves' Italy 2007. New York: Avalon Travel Publishing, 2006.