A home is also about place. The physical location of your home is an extension of your identity. Characteristics such as oriental or occidental, polar or tropical, urban or rural, swanky or slum will all affect the way the home is perceived. And experienced.
In a world full of dissociations, of Us versus Them, a neighbourhood has a special significance. It implies an interconnectedness with those who are part of the same place.
Our home in Rome is in the Trieste-Salaria neighbourhood. Long before we lived here, the area was inhibited by Neanderthals. But much has happened in the past 250,000 years. Such as the early 1900s construction of a fairy tale complex known as Coppedè. Named after the Florentine architect who designed it, Gino Coppedè, it’s a mix of Liberty, Gothic, Medieval, and Baroque. The area makes me think of Judy Garland walking around Oz saying “Lions and tigers and bears” as the buildings are embellished with murals and relief sculptures depicting all kind of hybrid animals. Since he was a freemason, Coppedè was fixated with esoteric symbols such as the huge chandelier hanging from the via Doria arch at the complex entrance. From the arch you can see the Fontana delle Rane (frogs) at Piazza Mincio inspired by Bernini’s Fontana delle Tartarughe (turtles) of Piazza Mattei. (Bernini is considered by some scholars to be a freemason, too.) It’s like walking into a picture book.
The European city is quite different than the American one. Most people live in apartment buildings surrounded by commercial activities. From my living room window, I can often smell the roasted coffee or the baking pastries coming from shops across the street. And anything necessary for daily life is within 100 meters so we don’t need a car. Walking helps me create a rapport with my neighbourhood. And going to the same shops all the time creates a feeling of familiarity making it almost mandatory to spend a few minutes “shooting the breeze” with the shopkeepers.
Neighbourhoods are a means of helping people stay connected.
P.S. Legend has it that the Beatles, after a concert at the nearby Piper Club, threw their clothes into the Fontana delle Rane.
(“History of a Home” Cynthia Korzekwa ©)