Every morning as the water heats up in my Moka coffee pot, I look out the window of the 2nd floor kitchen. The view across the street includes a formal garden in a building owned by the Academy but rented out to the American representative to the Vatican. Beyond, down the hill of the Janiculum, is the city center. And framing the view are a group of remarkable umbrella pines, to me the symbol of the city. They are more powerful even than the ruins. When I first flew into Rome, in 1984, I remember seeing the pines from the plane. I was reminded of this when I arrived last Monday morning in the rain. I saw a huge stand of the trees near the coast and know that my Roman adventure had begun.
What is it about these trees that so evokes a place?
I hope to spend more time exploring their story – their natural history and human history – in the coming weeks.
For now, I think I’ll listen to Respighi’s Pini di Roma (Pines of Rome), which Eric Nathan pointed me to.