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Last weekend my boyfriend’s family was visiting from Spain, so we stayed home on saturday night and had a family dinner. We were just finishing dessert when suddenly we started to hear a lot of noise coming from the square below. Now keep in mind that I live in Garbatella, which lies just outside the walls of ancient Rome, and it’s a very genuine, truly Roman neighborhood, as you may indeed perceive from the story I’m about to share with you…

As I was saying, there’s a LOT of noise coming from the square so we all go look out the window to check out what all the fuss is about. There’s a crowd of forty-something people gathering in the square. A small group of men are setting up a sound system with a microphone and speakers that I recognize as corner bar’s karaoke set, which has been literally driving me crazy all summer long! So I say to myself, if they’re taking the karaoke set out of the bar, this can’t possibly lead to anything good…

Then we notice that the sidewalk in front of my apartment block has been decorated with flowers and that there is a red carpet- Oscars-style!- on the front stairs. So the situation is getting more surreal by the minute and, suddenly, a man in his sixties picks up the microphone, strings his guitar and starts testing the sound, and I’m thinking what is it with people in this neighborhood and Karaoke anyways!?

And then he starts singing a serenade! 

We spot a young girl, who turns out to be the future bride, looking out of her window on the third story along with her mother and her grandmother, the three of them crying loudly into handkerchiefs. Now this is a great scene, because you must know that in every italian family drama there’s ALWAYS a grandmother around, the girl’s trusted confidant and dispenser of wisdom.

The not-so-young man below, who much to our relief later turns out to be the bride’s father, sings her a serenade with personalized lyrics… about love, marital life, the church, the white dress, becoming a mother – the whole deal! But the best of it all is that he is singing in 100% Romanaccio, Rome’s very characteristic dialect – and, let me tell you, Romanaccio totally ROCKS the Serenade!

So then I realize… all this explains the romantic vandalism that’s been spray-painted on the sidewalk for days: Baby, you’re the one I want to fill the rest of my days… 

Meanwhile, the kids in square are lighting a bunch of red heart-shaped chinese lanterns, which lift into the air miraculously avoiding the dozens of open windows in our building and the likely resulting fire! The two garbage trucks have parked in the square at the beginning of all the commotion, and a file of garbagemen now stand beholding the show, along with most neighbors from their windows.

Then the girl, whose name is actually Juliet, like in Romeo and Juliet- I mean at THIS point are you surprised!?- joins her family and friends in the square where they all hug and clap and cry. Then, finally, she jumps into the arms of her future husband – and we all say Oh, so that guy’s the groom! 

My boyfriend’s sister exclaims “This is the single most romantic thing I have ever seen in my entire life!”

Well, what can I say, it’s definitely not my style, but it sure was QUITE A SHOW!

Just another boring saturday night home, I guess, in boring old Rome…

– Chiara Galli –

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