Sunday, May 13, 2012

In Italy, never ask permission: a roof party

About a month ago i moved into a great new apartment with an entrance near Piazza Risorgimento, in Rome, and a view into Vatican City from my room, the bathroom, and our roof terrace. That roof terrace is pretty fantastic, except for the weird culture and rules around it. No Italians ever use it. Except for the purpose of hanging laundry out. But i thought this would be a great place for a party.

My view at night. That's the wall of Vaticany City and the dome of Saint Peter's Basillica.
So me and my buddy Mike threw together a little party, me for my Inaugurazione or House Warming and him for his final birthday before his 40!

Fifty or sixty people showed up. We had about 10 chairs clustered together around the roof, a 60foot extension chord running electricity from our kitchen on the 4th floor to the roof about the 5th floor, to a CD player that, with my limited number of commercially bought CDs (this was an ooold CD player), had us playing Led Zepplin, Janis Joplin, and Santana till after 1am! We had two twin mattress laid down with sheets and sleeping bags over them, a bar area where we drank many gallons of yummy red win sfuso, which means never been bottled. And there was another area where Kristen The Shit had made a massive and delicious bowl of pasta and veggies, there was a huge salad, and we bought an entire pizza al taglio from the excellent pizza by the slice place on Risorgimento. Plus there were olives and cherries and chips and peanuts and cookies, etc.

The bathroom was on the 4th floor, so all those people were clopping down the stairs to the bathroom, probably slamming the door shut again. In order for anyone to get in that had to hit a buzzer which has to be opened from a telephone-looking aparatus in the entryway, which meant after about 10:30 or so when everybody went up stairs, somebody had to come down to buzz them in, and back up the stairs again. At 4am 5 of us were hanging out in the stairwell, talking and laughing. i tried to limit the noise, thought for sure we'd get a noise complaint. But it never happened.

Many people, mostly Italians, asked as they arrived if i had asked permission to have the party. "Of course not," i told them. That would be the stupidest possible move - it would have given them the opportunity to say no. Never ask a question you don't want to know the answer to;-) We just waited for the last people to get their clothes for the day, set up after that, had the party, went to bed, no problem.

At at about 11:15am i hear the door bell ring. And then a 2nd time. i get up, still dressed in my party clothes, bed head hair, belt unbuckled, and open the door to a Signore and a Signora of two different families in their mid 60s, well dressed up for Sunday morning, and a third Signora maybe in her forties, dressed in gray sweats with her died blond hair up on an electrified palm tree impression on her head. The man asks me, "Siete voi che avete fatto un festa sulla terraza," Was it you who had the party on the roof? Si, i told him. And then he launches into this diatribe about, Non si puo.. "You can't do that." or something like that. It's like the French "ce n'ĂȘtre pas possible." He goes about how it's a question of if you can or if you can't, and in his opinion, Non si puo.

i was intensely curious what their motivation was, why did the blond lady look angry, arms tightly folded over he chest, biting her nails.

"We've been living here for more than 30years," the older lady told me. Then they told me which apartments they were from and exactly how many years and we all smiled, except for the blond, who bit her nails.

Oh, and they mention that it's a mess.

Now imagine how much stuff there is from 5dozen people partying for 2-5hours! But we (and by we i mean the several super hero souls that helped out with the clean up, thank you very much everybody!:-) But we got everything off the roof...except, i found out in the morning, maybe 6yellow (NOT red solo!) plastic cups, 1 orange plate, and a bunch of cigarette buts and corks. We had gotten ALL of the furniture, big garbage, and any other trace we'd been there except for this small stuff.

i was very curious what their motivation was to be so upset. The guy was saying that it's "un spazio commune per un uso specifico." "a common space for a specific use." Hanging your clothes, barked the blond.

Some old ladies' clothes on the terrace that held a 60person party the night before.
You  can see just about all of your mess there in the background.
Then we got to the nut of the problem: "Also we have tried to put some furniture up there," the old man told me, "in the summer when it was very hot. This was not for a party like yours, for heaven's sake. This was just to take some air in the summer. And even that the apartment council said we couldn't."

This is why they were upset. None of them indicated that they were from this apartment council, but they had been told they couldn't use that space for anything other than hanging their clothes, so we couldn't either.

Now what happens next shows the sort of psyche we have to deal with living here. i tell them that i didn't mean to cause any problems and will get it all cleaned up and i begged their pardon. Immediately they all let up, the guy said, "Ok allora, ci siamo tesi," "Ok then, we've understood each other." They asked me how long i'd been there and where i was from, and responded by telling me how beautiful America is and we parted wishing each other, "buone cose" "good things" and things like that.

Then, being a little bit hung over, i went down to the bar and had an espresso and a danish, and then went up to the roof to survey they situation. While looking around i picked up the yellow cups and went back downstairs to take a shower, but really just buying myself some time for my hangover to relax. As i'm just getting in the shower, so maybe just 20minutes after the guy has talked to me amicably, he rings the door again. My roomate answers and he yells at her! Exclaims that that i've only just picked the cups, there's still al the cigarette butts etc. When i get out of the shower, my roomate is (understandably) annoyed that she's been yelled at by this manic old man who has always been so nice the past. So go up there and it takes me maybe 20minutes to have the whole place cleaner than it had been before the party!

So, what's the moral, what's the point? Two of them:

1. Thank you to everyone who made it a great party! i had a really great time, got to meet up with a lot of people i don't get to see very often and chat with some new friends as well. i was actually really surprised by how many (awesome and wonderful people, especially cool, hot women - i appreciate my friends!;-) people showed up, and how thin i ended up spreading myself because of it.

2. In Italy especially, but in life in general:

Never ask a question you don't want to know the answer to.

So, will there be future parties on the roof? Not any time soon. And probably not anymore big ones like that. But if the whim should ever arrive to do anything of any form that is completely removeable and damageless on the roof, i'm sure not going to ask permission if i want to do it!;-) :-)

1 comment:

  1. haha Oh my goodness! They flipped about a couple of cups! I thought we left the roof looking quite nice! And I'm sorry we didn't hang out in the stairs longer, It was 4am when Tristan and I left and I could barely keep my eyes open! When we went to drop Al off at his place I was falling asleep! Great night though, we will have to do it again sometime, but be more secretive about it lol!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...