Rome Italy. A big city. Busy, crowded, loud, moving always. Sometimes I like to just sit and relax and be alone in a crowd. A great place to do just this is one of my favorite little bars called the Le Tartarughe Eat & Drink, or as I simply call it, “The Turtle Bar”.
This is a place just a few steps from the Jewish Ghetto and Campo di Fiori but a little off the beaten path in a quiet little piazza called Piazza Mattei. This piazza is famous for it’s beautiful fountain, The Fontana delle Tartarughe (The Turtle Fountain). Hence how this great little bar got it’s name.
I have been here many times over the years and have always enjoyed it, as I sit and reminisce with a beverage of past memories in Rome. I guess this is why I keep coming back. On this occasion I sat at a table and ordered an Italian beer. Not piccolo! The large ones… The waitress serving me took my order to the bartender and shortly I had my ice cold Italian beer in front of me. A perfect drink to enjoy this warm Rome spring afternoon.
As I sat gazing out the windows at the beautiful fountain in the piazza outside I couldn’t help but think about all my trips to Rome over the years and stopping in here for a drink and something to eat. Though at present, Italians sat all around me and talked about what was going on, business, family, politics, and any topics of the day. I sipped my beer and listened to their lives. Not eavesdropping mind you, as my Italian is very limited, but catching just enough to understand the emotions of the discussions. Just then a strange and amazing thing happened. The background music began with a song I remember from my childhood, “Horse With No Name” by the band America. Suddenly it became louder and louder and as it did the waitress, a friendly young Italian girl, began to sway and skip as she went from table to table singing the lyrics in perfect English. She sang every word with her thick Italian accent and danced. Then the manager and rest of the bar staff began to chime in as well.
“You see I’ve been thru the desert on a horse with no name“…
They all knew every word. I sang along in my head as I sat back and watched the entire bar stop and come alive to this beautiful song. Just then I looked down and I had another full glass of beer and aperitive on my table without even uttering a word. It appeared as if magic. It was as if the music had transformed us all at that time and place. A small community of locals and a foreigner, me, that now no longer felt alone in the crowd.