Christmas 1957 . . . a “time” to remember !!

- - - many, many years ago . . .

that  is how “fairytales” begin !
and - - - it is how MY “fairytale adventure” began !!

It was Christmas . . . Nicola and I had just returned to Rome, from our LONDON Adventure . . . driving across France in Nicola’s ‘beaten-up’ old Fiat 1100 !! . . . and NOW I was to ‘meet his family’ . . . at Christmas. . . . which was a very traditional celebration (so Nicola told me!) in his family!

To say I was “terrified” is to put it mildly !!

The Christmas Celebration (so Nicola told me) was to start with The Eve of Christmas . . . many different special dishes ! His mother had been in her tiny kitchen (for three days), preparing for this Special Evening - - - “Oh Dear! MY  father had not been ‘happy’ about me, marrying Nicola !!! How will I get through this “Test”, with his family?”, I worried - - -

Of his Family, I had only met his youngest sister, Rita, who used to visit Nicola in his studio - - - but, then, she was only 12 !! I had never met his Mother and Father. This was to be a big family gathering . . . !

Everyone was very welcoming, to this “straniera” ! - - - despite my ‘foreign ways and accent’ (which seemed to make them laugh). They were generous and I was embraced as “one of the family”.

NOW . . . Christmas 1957 ! - - - the Fairytale Adventure, with all its spectacular “UPS”, and many “DOWNS” (one, with a tragic ending) had begun . . .

We were living in Nicola’s rented studio, beneath the Gianiculum Hill, where every day, at noon, a cannon burst over our ‘heads’ (no need for a clock, then!) . . . and .. . just behind Rome’s main prison, where we could hear the inmates shouting messages to friends “on the outside” . . . in the middle of the night!

The Studio had a huge terrace facing onto the Botanical Gardens of Rome. [it was like having our own garden - - - without the need to ‘do gardening’ !!] It consisted of a very large ‘room’ - - - half was The Working Studio and half was the ‘bed-sitting-room’, plus a tiny ‘kitchen and a bathroom. BUT it was ‘freedom’ and ‘our  life’ !! and we loved it !!

“Freedom” meant that we could jump into the car and drive all over Italy! And, this we did ! Nicola’s favourite ‘trips’ were south of Rome - - - Gaeta, Circeo, Sabaudia . . . and there are many paintings of these historic places. Then, if we had the time, he would drive to Naples, visiting the Amalfi Coast, or Sorrento, or taking the ‘vaporetto’ to Capri (always our favourite!) . . . or to Ischia or Procida, from the busy little port and spa, of Pozzuoli, just north of Naples. Some of his most “famous” and “loved” images are of this part of Italy . . . AND HE WAS HAPPY ! . . . doing what HE loved most - - - listening to music and dancing (and ‘singing’ ?) whilst Creating HIS “World”.

What was I ‘doing’ !!? I was working as a Fashion Model and playing small parts in various Italian and American films being ‘shot’ in Rome, at that time. (including, “La Dolce Vita”!!!)

THIS WAS ROME !! This was 1957 - - - The Rome of “History”. Trastevere [meaning ‘across the Tiber’] mixed with the ‘Dolce Vita’ Rome of Via Veneto and Piazza di Spagna or Piazza del Popolo. It was intriguing and exciting . . . I loved it !!

The FUTURE was OURS to “make” and “enjoy” - - -

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