entrance to Villa Ada on the Salaria
Now, where the ancient city of Antemnae once stood, is the lush and large Roman park known as Villa Ada. In 1872, Vittorio Emanuele II of Savoia bought the land and, for a few years, used the property’s pre-existing villa as the royal residence. Today this structure is now the home of the Egyptian Embassy.
Since it’s not far from where we live, we often go to Villa Ada for a walk. Sometimes I naughtily clip leaves from the numerous laurel bushes. Bay leaf is full of nutrients such as magnesium, potassium, and iron. Even though it’s mostly known for flavouring roasts, bay leaf can be used to make a tea that eases joint pain. Putting a couple of leaves in flour and other grain containers can ward off weevils. I use my “booty” to fill produce netting pouches that are then placed in kitchen cupboards. The smell of bay leaf seems to scare insects away.
People go to Villa Ada to jog or take long walks. An oasis of green, it is a perfect place to escape City Stress without leaving town. The park is densely populated by tall, dramatic umbrella pines that paste themselves against the sky. Their presence can be somewhat overwhelming.
But not everyone has the same desire for nature or casual walks. Virginia Woolf, like my friend Ute, needed a destination when she walked. After writing about Mrs. Dalloway’s walks around London, Virginia wrote “Street Haunting”, an essay exploring the voyeuristic aspects of walking around town. Not a flaneuse, the narrator justifies her walk by creating the need to buy a lead pencil from a shop across town. As she passes strangers on the street, she imagines their lives. “What greater delight and wonder can there be than to leave the straight lines of personality. To feel that one is not tethered to a single mind, but can put on briefly for a few minutes the bodies and minds of others.”
walking and an Age of Reconfiguration excerpt
Walking in parks is a means of interrelating with nature whereas walking city streets is a means of interrelating with others. Either way, walking always is a means of interrelating with the self.
In the early 1950s, Dodie Smith, author of I Capture the Castle and 1001 Dalmatians, was in a slump. To help herself cope, she memorized poems and would recite them as if saying a rosary while taking sunset walks.
The maxim “when in doubt, walk it out” is evergreen.
(Cynthia Korzekwa © 2019 )
Related: film director Luchino Visconti lived across the street from Villa Ada. And writer Giorgio Manacorda used Villa Ada as the setting for his “giallo” (mystery novel) about a homeless poet murdered there.