Rome Travel Guide

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Saturday, October 31, 2009

Rear Window

It happened more than a year ago. We were living in Flaminio, occupying a first-floor corner apartment with a rather narrow balcony (that's us up there), in a building known to film historians as the place where the second bicycle theft occurred in DeSica's neo-realist masterpiece. It was late afternoon, and I took my fluted glass of Falanghina outside to watch the Romans go about their business, mostly, at this intersection of via Pietro da Cortona and via Ghirlandaio, the endlessly fascinating dance of cars and scooters searching for parking places.

Kitty-corner from our own angolo, a large, set-back apartment building filled the view. And there I saw it. A young boy--as young as four, as old as seven--appeared with his back to the open, unscreened window. He seemed to be standing on a table, so his feet were at sill level, and as I watched, he backed toward the window and--yes, it's true--took his pants down, perhaps in some sort of protest. Now I was concerned for the boy's life, as any misstep would send him two floors to his death, and whatever mischief or trauma had brought the pants down could, I thought, trigger just that sort of tragic miscalculation. Dianne joined me on the balcony, and we watched until, when it seemed we had to do something, anything, hands reached out and pulled the boy in--as we were taking this photograph.


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