Next morning was Friday the 3rd of October, near the end of the first week of "classes," although hardly anything resembling a traditional University class had taken place. Our schedules said that we would meet at 9 AM to discuss the first of our projects, the "Artist in Transition," but there still remained the matter of official papers to be had. This is Italy after all, where if the end of the world arrives it will probably be told it filled out the wrong form.

So rather than talking (at last) about schoolwork, we decide it would be better (but not by much) to go down to an Italian Post Office and pay for our student insurance -- surely you remember the need for student insurance??? -- which would be the first step in being granted the "Permesso di Soggiorno" papers that would be our official documents allowing us to stay in Italy.

Located in what used to be the Stadium of Domitian

The good news, however, about having to go wait in line at an Italian post office is that you almost certainly will pass some artistic treasure or monument on your way there. Sure enough, we're able to plan our route so that we pass through Piazza Navona, home of Bernini's "Fontana dei Quattri Fiumi", a sculptural homage to the four major rivers of the world (known at that time), and an accompanying church facade designed by Bernini's arch-rival Borromini.


The Fontana dei Quattri Fiumi pays respect to the rivers Danube, Nile, Ganges and Plate, which also represent the four major populated continents of the world at the time (you play art/geography student and match them up).
The story goes that the Nile is utterly aghast at the church created by Bernini's rival Borromini, and thus cannot even bear to look at the facade. This, however, has been proven as an urban legend of Rome, since the church went in after the sculpture was already in place. One can't help but notice the sculpture's apparent reaction to the building closest to it, though, which makes even this quick side trip in Rome a dramatic event.

The Danube and Nile can't bear to look

Speaking of dramatic, check out the damage caused to this statue earlier in 1997, and the
The Dragon's Tale...
unbelievable story of how it happened.


While in Piazza Navona, a few of us also slid on over to a hole-in-the-wall gelateria and coffee bar called "Tre Scalini". I'm not sure which three stairs the place is named after, but they reportedly have the best tartuffo in Rome -- a frozen, chocolatey truffle dessert which some might consider reason enough to visit Italy. Based on the price I was charged, the proprietors must know that their product's reputation precedes it. And on yet another hot and humid day in early autumn, it was worth every lira I paid (however many it was).


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