Monday, December 31, 2012

A quiet New Year's Eve in Rome: Soaking up the simple beauty

Would you like some Trinità dei Monti with your fairy lights? No, that's all right, the fairy lights are enough for me.

Since moving to Rome over eight years ago, I have come to realize that it is the simple things in this splendid city that fascinate and charm me the most. Of course I adore the Pantheon and Castel Sant’Angelo (and while I may not adore the Colosseum or St. Peter’s Basilica, I recognize what works of incredible human achievement they are), but those monuments are not what thrill my soul, nor what make me sometimes think, “How could I ever leave Rome?” Instead it is the minute details, the curiosities, the simple pleasures, which are often overlooked (even though, I must admit, in Rome even the simple things are extraordinary.)

This afternoon I took a long New Year’s Eve walk with my adorable Maritino through some of the most picturesque neighborhoods in the city. I’m a sucker for the twinkling lights and other decorations that make it even more magical than usual at this time of year. I’ve never been one to make too much of a fuss over New Year’s Eve (although I have always dreamed of going to a big fancy ball à la Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally). My first priority has always been to be among good friends and I usually end up at a cozy house party and maybe going out for post-midnight drink, and generally I am tucked up in bed by 1am or shortly thereafter.

But this year, the Maritino and I decided to ring in the New Year quietly, on our own. It’s after 8pm, and we still haven’t decided if we’ll go out for an informal dinner or stay in with a bottle of champagne and a movie. Either way, it will be simple and quiet.

But we did create a new tradition: a long, leisurely, afternoon walk through the sparkling city, trodding the sanpietrini of some of the loveliest streets and piazzas of the city, from Via dei Coronari to Via dell’Orso, Piazza San Lorenza in Lucina, Via del Campo Marzio, Via Borgognona and many more. And what simple yet enthralling pleasures awaited us at every turn: ogling the priceless antiques in the store windows, stopping to admire a never before seen (by us) curiosity, reminiscing about moments passed together in hidden corners of the city, marveling at the Borromini and da Cortona that seem to follow us around every bend, grabbing a piping hot slice of pizza al taglio, seeing locals and natives greeting each other with boisterous “Buon Anno!”s and “Happy New Year!”s, catching snippets of the song of an unusually talented street performer, and stopping for a pot of tea at Babington’s. The city was so rich and alive. It made me grateful to be alive and to be able to live in this extraordinary place, and to be able to keep on loving it so passionately, day after day, year after year.

Here are just a few photos from our epic five-hour walk. I would have taken more, but I was so busy feeding my pupils with the gorgeousness all around me, I simply forgot most of the time!

What's hiding behind that plant on Via dei Coronari?

Oh, no big deal, just a fragment of an ancient sculpture, plastered right into the wall of a building.

You know when you walk around the corner and run into a massive church you don't remember ever seeing before? (If this were Twitter, the hashtag would be: #onlyinRome) (In case you were wondering, it's San Salvatore in Lauro)

An almond cupcake by the fire at Babington's. Delicious, but can't compare to Christina's!

Tea and cake at Babington's: it costs at least as much as a full meal any decent trattoria, but it is the only place to get proper cup of tea in Rome.

Happy New Year, my darling bloglings! Thank you for reading my humble words in 2012. I promise there will be more, hopefully many more, posts in 2013. I wish you a thrilling New Year’s Eve wherever and however you might be celebrating it. Here’s to drinking in the beauty that is all around us every moment, whether simple or extraordinary, or both!

All photos by author

StumbleUpon Pin It

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Celebrating 100,000 hits!

(I'm sure there's a hilarious mobster joke to be made about that title somehow, but it's just not coming to me.)

I am excited to announce that my itty, bitty blog reached the (to my ears) impressive figure of 100,000 hits yesterday! I know that there are many blogs out there that receive 100,000 hits a day, so in the grand scheme of things, 100,000 in the 2 1/2-year life of a blog sounds like small potatoes, but I'm still excited and proud!

Image source

To my faithful bloglings out in the ether, thank you for every single one of your clicks; they have brought me steadily closer to this milestone! In spite of the stats that I can regularly check, and the wonderful comments that I receive, it is sometimes hard to believe that anyone is actually out there, reading my humble thoughts and musings. As a blogger, you send your missives out into the great void and hope that someone is out there reading. A number like this is an assuring proof that my readers actually exist.

But where do all my lovely readers come from? How do you find my site? Could it be that it's just my mom and a few loyal Facebook friends and Twitter followers? Luckily, Blogger makes it possible for me to see where the bulk of my traffic is coming from, and the overwhelming majority of it is from Google searches. And what are you searching for that leads you to my site? The top queries that have pointed people to my blog are, in order: Caravaggio (what a shocker), Illuminated manuscript, Numa Pompilius (it turns out I've written four posts about the guy), Pinturicchio, the Last Judgement, and the Mars of Todi. What I've taken from this is that the more obscure the subject I write about is (with the exception of Caravaggio of course), the more likely people searching for information on it will come to me, since fewer sites have written about it.

My traffic from Facebook and Twitter is surprisingly insignificant by comparison. This is probably my own fault as I don't post to those sights all that often, although I have read that Facebook now shows your posts to only a small percentage of your page's fans (unless you pay them), but that is a topic for a different post.

And then there are the occasional bursts of traffic when an important website or publication mentions my blog, like the Irish Times or the Fatto Quotidiano, and that is always a plus.

But mostly it's people's curiosity, facilitated by Google, that leads thems to my site, and hopefully many of them like what they find and come back for more.

Another interesting question is where do all of you lovely readers live? What countries are tuning into The Pines of Rome the most? Topping the list is the United States (not surprising since I'm from there), followed by Italy (I live there and write about it) with the UK coming in third. Rounding out the top ten are Canada, Germany, France, Australia, the Netherlands, Russia and Spain. I am always thrilled when unexpected, distant and diverse countries pop up on my traffic report, and there have been many, including Vietnam, Mauritius, Algeria, Venezuela, Sri Lanka, Chile, Qatar, Iraq, Pakistan, Ghana, Ethiopia and Mongolia. Readers from at least 109 different countries have visited my blog. This makes me very, very proud.

But perhaps the most important question is, what are you reading? Which posts have the most visits? The overwhelmingly most popular post is Michelangelo's Last Judgement and Marcello Venusti's copy (who would have guessed?) with 6343 hits to date, more than double the second most popular, Six months a wife and an illuminated manuscript. In third place we have Caravaggio, you devil!, followed by Numa Pompilius and his calendar, Salvador Dalì: Renaissance-inspired Surrealism, and The Borghese Gallery and the fate of an ill-gotten collection, part 2. I am particularly happy to see that last post on this list as it is one of the ones (together with its prequel part 1) that I am most proud of.

And speaking of, what are my personal favorite posts? Probably my absolute favorite is Siamo Romane.... Trasteverine, written back in 2010 when I thought I was leaving Trastevere forever, an ode to my beloved neighborhood. This post has garnered very few hits, as I wrote the title when I didn't know anything about SEO (P.S I still don't, but I do know to write my post titles in English now). I had particular fun writing Are Italian women really unhappy?, The Borgia Pope, Pinturicchio, and La Bella Farnese, The lost art of writing by hand, A Room with a View, fate and the allure of Italy, and So you want to move to Rome? My advice: do it!

As you probably know by now, I'm not that into self-promotion (except in this post, of course), but I will take the opportunity of this blogger-milestone of 100,000 hits to ask you to help The Pines of Rome continue to be more and more read. If you like this site, please share it with your friends and family and anyone you think might enjoy it. If you have a blog of your own, consider adding mine to your blogroll. You can follow the blog directly if you have a Google account, or you can subscribe to get new posts delivered to you by email. If you are on Twitter, please follow; if you are on Facebook, please "like". And, for goodness' sake, comment! Reading your comments is truly a joy, and I respond to every single one.

My goal is to rack up another 100,000 hits in less than half the time it took to get the first 100,000. That is, I aim to reach 200,000 hits one year from today. I can't do it without my lovely bloglings, so keep reading, friends! And, in the meantime, if anyone would like to explain to me (using small words) what pings and backlinks are, I would be most happy to learn!

StumbleUpon Pin It
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...