Sunday, 20 January 2013

Singing in the rain

We had lunch in the square today undeterred by the rain, the boys still wanted to play and Reuben even burst into song with my umbrella.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Maxxi museum of 21st century art

We finally succeeded in visiting this amazing space/museum as after a week of rain we are no longer worried by it.

The MAXXI – National Museum of the 21st Century Arts is a national museum dedicated to contemporary creativity, located in the Flaminio neighbourhood of Rome, Italy. It is managed by a foundation created by the Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities. It was designed as a multidisciplinary space by Zaha Hadid and committed to experimentation and innovation in the arts and architecture.

The children enjoyed it immensely, unfortunately I couldn't take many photos in the galleries so I snapped away at the amazing architecture, there is an art and architecture section and our favourite exhibition was William Kentridge's Vertical Thinking. The space was amazing, both inside and out and the cafe did one good chocolate cake!! I can't recommend this museum highly enough and the boys had a wonderful and educational time, Reuben even added some pebble art of his own near the entrance.

Reuben's pebble art

At the front of the building

That was nice cake!

We really liked the cafe too


You can see the entrance hall two floors down

See-through staircase

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Piazza del Popolo

More rain today, so instead of spending another day at home (reading and drawing are nice but I am a woman of action) we grabbed an umbrella and headed out to do some chores for my mum, this included buying a wireless router as we have all been (nicely) fighting over the computer.

On our way back we stopped at Piazza del Popolo, one of the main squares in Rome and the boys decided to play round the obelisk and fountains. Then it started to rain again and we rushed for the bus!

What is that very tall thing?

It's an obelisk

A good attempt at climbing the lion but it was too wet

An evening walk with Isaac

Reuben is not so fond of going out for a walk in the evening but me and Isaac really enjoy it, these are the streets around my mum's house in Rome, it has been raining for the past week so whenever there is a break in the clouds we put our shoes on and enjoy the city centre.

The electric bus we use to get around

My mum's street

Isaac in the courtyard

Starting to rain again

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

More Explora

We went back to Explora today with my sister and her children, lots more to do!

Monday, 14 January 2013

Violent language towards children

This is in no way an attack towards Italian society as I have heard and seen nasty things in the UK too, it's just that I'm here right now and have heard in the last couple of days some things that took me back to my childhood (bad bits from my childhood) and made me very sad.

Yesterday we were in front of the Zoo in Rome and were choosing snacks from a street vendor, a group of about 6 children came running towards us and before they even had a change to get to the stall (full of sweets and toys as well as sandwiches and drinks) one of the women looking after them forcefully said: "This is just a warning but anyone who touches anything will have their hands nailed to the stall", the children seemed not to notice, they continued laughing and running but none of them actually touched anything.
Then, just a few minutes ago, I was queuing in a children's shop waiting to pay for some art materials, two girls in front of me were talking sweetly about their children and how much they would love their new crayons, then one told the other how she had come home from the gym yesterday, found lots of juice spilled on the floor and smacked her toddler, she added it could also have been her daughter so she smacked them both. Her friend replied that of course that's what you do, just in case...

These two exchanges have a lot in common, not just the violence present in the language and the act but in the normalisation of the principle. The children at the zoo must have heard these threats so many times they didn't consciously pick up on the nastiness of that single one, and probably the woman herself had no real intention of nailing anyone's hands down. The girls in the shop never for a moment doubted that smacking is normal and necessary, I saw their faces, they would've been horrified had I said anything.

I wasn't too shocked to hear these things as both occurrences were commonplace for me growing up in Rome in the 70s, I was saddened that parents don't question the way they were brought up and continue making the same mistakes. As what are these things telling the children? Consciously they might not even notice anymore (although smacking is never pleasant), even joke about it, but it must foster a lot of anger inside, a sense of helplessness, a feeling that the world is not a kind and safe place and parents can turn against their own children very quickly, that no one is loved unconditionally, that aggression and depression (I felt both as a consequence of this sort of discipline or violence masquerading as love) are normal parts of being human.

I do notice a difference between the boys and a lot of other children we meet, they certainly are not obedient and they do touch toys and sweets on stalls, they do occasionally spill their juice (so do I!!), argue with me and generally have a mind of their own, and that is ok, it might not be very convenient (for me) but it means that when we are happy together, when we are all running around the woods or making something or cooking, going to the theatre, reading, travelling, even tidying up together, it is because they truly want to, we are truly united, we are not scared of each other.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Rainy day and the Etruscan museum in Rome

We nearly didn't go out today, my sister was here with 3 of her 4 children and after a long session during which we tried to find a place we all agreed on to visit we were ready to go out, then it started pouring with rain! But we were not deterred so all piled into her little red car and set off to visit the Etruscan museum near the large Villa Borghese the boys love.

The museum is wonderful and as it had stopped raining we enjoyed running round the gardens which included a Ninfeo (a sacred place near water, named from the Ninfe, female water spirits) and a small maze. The artifacts in the museum (which also included a replica of Etruscan tombs) were also wonderful, unfortunately we had a very bad experience with the two ladies who were manning the rooms we visited, one continuously told the children what not to do even though they were not doing it! This really upset us as Reuben had never heard of the Etruscans, I was telling him about them as we walked in, he got very excited at seeing all the pots and utensils then the silly woman started following us and telling us don't touch this don't sit there don't put your hands on the glass, but we WEREN'T!!! At that point Reuben got very upset, started crying and wanted to go home, what a shame, foolish people, instead of appreciating the fact that a 5 year old is so interested in the ancient world they were just worried about any damage he could do. But we gave it another go and went downstairs to see the tomb section. More hassle... another employee started stalking us, walking behind us, stopping when we stopped and staring the whole time, I was really distressed as we were doing nothing wrong, I mentioned that we were not criminals, had paid our ticket and wanted to see the museum in peace, she looked at me as if I was mad... We left.

So we retreated to Villa Borghese where the children all played happily until we heard thunder and it very quickly started to rain, all in all it was a good day and I'll go back to the Villa as soon as the weather is ok again.

Reuben and Yuri, my nephew, in the gardens of the museum

The beautiful frescoes in the gallery round the courtyard

Small temple in the grounds

Jumping amongst the ruins

The Ninfeo seen from above

The small maze

Villa Borghese outside the Zoo

Villa Borghese

With Yuri and Irene, the boys' cousins

Is there room for one more in there?

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