We left the U.S. in 2003 when Olivia was four years old. She turns 17 this week and her heart is bigger than her years:
Inspired by Brandon Stanton of Humans in New York fame, she leads a group of volunteers to help the less fortunate on the streets of Rome. The volunteers deliver coffee, tea and personal supplies and they offer their time to visit with people living and working outside. Olivia has guided this project since September and has become friendly with some of the familiar faces she meets on her regular walks. Among the homeless and peddlers is an electrical engineer from Constantinople, a disabled man who scoots around the city sitting on a skateboard, and migrants from Senegal and Liberia who say they “have aged here” in Rome. Check out their stories on the Humans of Rome Facebook page.
The bathroom bill in North Carolina got me thinking about the flexible public bathroom arrangements in Italy. Olivia’s school offers a good example: Upstairs near the library are segregated bathrooms for men and women, just as you would find in the U.S. Downstairs by the cafeteria, are two enclosed unisex stalls and one shared sink. Larger facilities such as the airport or the mall, usually offer separate bathrooms. However, it’s not unusual for segregated toilet space to feed into a common sink area. Smaller venues usually don’t segregate.
A final note about public bathrooms in Rome: Often there’s no toilet seat (I’ll spare you a photo) and a feature I love – foot peddles for flushing and controlling the sink water.
My local chapter of Negligent Mommies united this weekend at a thermal spa outside of Rome for a menu of mud wraps and other not-so-easily translatable therapies, such as “percorso vasculare.” The sulphur-infused waters have soothed and healed bodies for thousands of years and were popular with ancient Romans and Etruscans. In Canto XIV of the Inferno, Dante alludes to these hot springs and the “sinful women” who bathed there…
Therapy most satisfying: A day with my divine (and not-so-sinful) friends.
Note the gender-neutral dressing rooms at the spa:
The usual smorgasbord of photos to keep you posted on our activities:
And a trip down memory lane: On the Brahmaputra River with mom.