Quirky Rome

Ashley Hayward c. Ashley Hayward

Ashley Hayward, Self Portrait with Pantheon

There is much to consider when spending a week in Rome — a penuriously brief period to take in a seismically abundant history so close and so real that you can walk on it smell it taste it hear it. Excavations are stumbled upon all over the city (at night, often “peopled” with cats), walls and floors are cut away to show the ancient bones, and bones themselves tell stories in the undergrounds of the city. Rome doesn’t need museums, because she is one.

Moss Man in Rome

The Moss Man

I could spend a lifetime here and still be a stranger; for every hidden gem I discover, there are hundreds more that my eye will never find, a thousand whispered secrets and asides. I’ve got my ears perked, but I’m also delighted to soak up a little Roma Lite along with her headier sights.

Rome, of course, is known for the fabulous carvings that delight even in the most obscure passages. From Leonardo to Bernini to pilfered Egyptian art to unknown artisans, abundance abounds. A few, however, still manage to seem a bit out of place.

Tiny Cars in Rome

Do you need a license to drive it?

I’m no sculptor, but that decidedly is not your typical male body. And those moss pants . . . ? Caesar may have worn a dress, but I’m not buying the baggy gangsta attire.

And this most decidedly is not your average-size car. I’m not sure what the height limit is on this baby, but I’m pretty sure you won’t be racking up any speeding tickets.

I’m a fan though — who doesn’t love a venture that includes “kisses” in its company name? Poodles excepted, you might be even happier here.

Rubber Band Purse, Rome

Pretty sure it bounces.

If rain-proof scooters and vintage Vespas don’t thrill you, nothing beats walking the streetsĀ  for a little window gawking. A recent cobblestone stroll yielded a close-up gander of this way cool rubber band purse, a funky marriage of artistic-frivolity-meets-transportation-map.

Not bad on the multi-tasking either, since the purse comes complete with emergency accessories: two strands of beads and quite-a-few-extra hair elastics. Gotta love a total package.

Dol Heads in Rome

Hanibal Lecter Ate Here

A bit removed from the designer district I foundĀ  AACK! the crazy broken doll head store. We’re talking the seeds for one helluva Chuckie movie right here. It’s bad enough that so many of the pretties have been scalped, and I’m wondering where I might stumble upon the arms and legs. There seems to be only one whole bitty baby in the lot, and I’m thinking his days are numbered.

Fountain, St. Paul's Within the Walls

Thirsty? Devil-Water at the Ready

In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised in the least if he’s eaten tomorrow by this guy, who appears to be the worst decoration for a drinking fountain that I’ve ever seen. Even stranger, he resides in the whimsical garden of St. Paul’s Within the Walls, the first non-Catholic church built inside the city walls of Rome (in 1873 — making her quite the newcomer).

Art on the Ceiling

I had fun. Did you?

And in the end, as always, what you SEE is what you get: a kitty slurping spilled gelato by the fountain, a full dress parade rounding a corner, wildflowers sprouting from cracks in the forum ruins, turtle fountains and gaping mouths that eat your hands if you tell a fib. Only a fraction make the guidebooks.

After a delightfully indulgent meal at La Carbonara one evening, I leaned back in my chair and raised my eyes to the heavens. Instead of angels, I found this charming couple penned onto the ceiling, most likely in appreciation of the delicate brown butter sauce. Rome rewards at every turn. Cin cin!