Drills, Hammers and a Jesus Party to Remember

Since moving to Rome I have learnt to use a drill. I have also used a hammer and nails.

Those of you who know me well – yes – you are on the right page and reading the right blog. And no, I have not been recently been abducted by aliens. It’s just me learning to do the things a strong, independent, single woman of the world should know how to do!

The hammer and nails were brought out by my housemate on Saturday afternoon so that I could get to work on event styling our apartment for my L’Anno di Cristo Birthday Party (read previous blog if you don’t know what this means!)

Events as you know are my thing. So when I came up with this most appropriate (and very well received) theme for my birthday, of course I had a vision.

Now, the vision in its embryonic state did NOT feature hanging pictures of Pope John Paul II in our living area. Little did I know that this crazy idea would come to me as I shopped around in a city with no shortage of religious or papal memorabilia (some classic, some not so classic, and most – just downright tacky and ridiculous!). It became obvious to me that said and kitsch memorabilia should become the centrepiece and very inspiration of my party theme.

Our "Hanging Popes"
Our "Hanging Popes"

And so I bought a series of Pope postcards, ceramic La Pieta statuettes (Michelangelo’s masterpiece depicting Jesus draped across the lap of Mary post-crucifixtion) and Padre Pio (a famous Italian saint) candles (real and battery operated). The objects were for strategic placement around the apartment and to adorn our food table.

The postcards? Well this brings me back to the start of this post – yes, the line about me using a hammer and nails (again, this is not fiction people!). I made tiny holes in them and threaded them through fishing wire in order to suspend them from wall to wall – creating a visual effect of ‘Hanging Popes’ as they would soon be referred to by my party guests. Importantly for the success of my party, the concept created a talking point and ice-breaker for all my guests.

The morning of my party didn’t start off great. For starters, it was absolutely pouring. Not exactly the weather which inspires going out to shop and run errands.

Then came the classic Italian supermarket experience. Imagine having to do a supermarket shop for a party without a car (oh and I’m living in apartment on the fourth floor without an elevator).

Me and 'La Pieta'

Let me remind you that with respect to customer service, supermarkets in Italy aren’t like the ones in Australia or anywhere else in the world for that matter. You have to pack your own groceries into bags (and fast!!).

So, let me paint the picture for you (and apologies to my Facebook followers who are hearing this story for the second time):

I bring my full (overflowing) trolley to the check-out counter and the guy starts putting all the items through. I’m watching the belt counter pile up but I don’t have time to start packing stuff into bags because I’m passing him the items. Now, I start sweating … there is a queue of five people staring at me with absolute daggers. I pay and they now have nowhere to put their stuff (and their looks and huffs tell me how impressed they are by this). At this point I actually want to cry, but I just start slowly packing – all’Italiana: con calma (with an Italian relaxed pace!) Well, what else could I do??

Then I realise that the packet of mini mozzarellas I’d bought has opened and leaking water all over the belt as well as over my shopping items and the guy of course tells me to go and grab myself a new one because – wait for it – he is too busy working. By this stage I had lost my patience and so of course retorted, “Well clearly so am I today!” He didn’t really seem to care!

Party shots

Because I have an ah-may-zing housemate and neighbor, I was able to leave my full shopping trolley at the supermarket for them to pick up later with the car. That’s what friends are for hey!

Thankfully my day got better. We had lots of fun dressing the room for the party and then after a quick visit to the hairdresser and a wardrobe change, I was ready to party.

About 20 us snacked on great food (in excess!) and drank cocktails (spritz, strawberry and mint and vanilla syrup) into the wee hours of Sunday morning and then my housemate brought out cakes with shooting sparklers and everyone sang Happy Birthday to me – in Italian, then English.

There was such a positive energy in the room and I had so much fun.

Maybe it was the cocktails (which I’m paying for today), or the group of fantastic people. Secretly I’d like to think that my party was a huge success because my L’anno di Cristo luck has kicked in (oh and the Pope, Jesus and Mary and candle decorations might have just played a role too!)

Thanks to everyone (in Australia, Italy and beyond) for your kind wishes and beautiful gifts.

You have helped to make my 33rd Birthday – the first ever celebrated in Rome – one that I will never forget! Grazie veramente di cuore.

Signing off from Rome,

Baci Maria

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