Wednesday, December 5, 2018

#21 ~Summer 1975~Ostia Lido

Our first month in Italy was very interesting, to say the least. Every night we would go to the Central Post office to find out what is happening, who is leaving Italy for the US or Canada, who is coming from Russia, ask questions and get advice from people who lived in Italy for a while. That's how we learned how to survive and what to do.
As we settled, we started the ORT School, where we studied English. Felix and Ida would go to the classes in the morning and I attended afternoon classes. This way one of us was taking care of Masha. School was in Rome, so we had to take the train and then use the bus to get to school.

Train Station in Ostia Lido
To save money I often walked to school instead of using the bus. I enjoyed my long walks along the river. I discovered short cuts and to my delight found beautiful piazzas, old churches, fountains and museums. I don't remember being afraid to get lost. I knew how to ask: "Where is the river?" And I could find my way from there. I loved school. Our teacher was a young man from Chicago. He did not speak any Russian, so everything was in English. We read American newspapers, asked questions about American way of life and shared our own stories. What is ORT School?

In 1880 a group of Russian Jews petitioned Czar Alexander II for permission to start a fund to assist Jewish trade schools and establish new colonies, agricultural schools and model farms in order to help lift Russia's five million Jews out of crushing poverty. The success of the appeal led Russian authorities to create the "Society for Trades and Agricultural Labor," for Jews of Russia. It is from this original name—Obschestvo Remeslenovo i. Zemledelcheskovo Trouda—that the word ORT is derived.

After the first month living with 2 other families in a 1 room apartment, we had a chance to rent a 3 bedroom apartment, which was not as new and not as comfortable. But we used only one room for ourselves and rented the other two to 2 families. It saved a lot of money for us and we had our own room. I loved going to the market. I learned how to find bargains, how to "make deals" with the merchants. On the weekends we decided to explore Rome. We bought a Guide book: "Rome and Vatican". It was so helpful to read about the certain place and then go and see it: Piazza Venezia, The Roman Forum, The Colosseum, The fountain of Trevi and so much more...
Some museums were free of charge, some had a very small admission fee. My most favorite was  The Pantheon.
One night when we walked by the Piazza Nationale, we saw that lots of people gathered around the fence. When we got closer, we saw a small stage and around it tables and chairs were set. People were sitting at the tables, sipping wine or champagne and listening to the singer. His name was Mario Rovi. Oh, how I wanted to be among those people, to sit comfortably and listen to the artist and not  behind the fence. And I made a promise to myself, that WE WILL COME BACK AND WE WILL SIT AT THE VERY FRONT TABLE AND WE WILL HAVE CHAMPAGNE  AND ENJOY THE MUSIC!
One of the most memorable discoveries we made was Town of Tivoli, about 30 km from Rome. One Sunday afternoon we packed sandwiches, got some water and fruits and got on the bus. We did know what to expect. But what we saw was so incredible, we simply got lost in the past, away from troules, questions, worries and uncertainties. Villa D'Este was something from a dream: fountains, gardens, statues, waterfalls... we spent an entire day there and enjoyed every minute of it!
I did not mean to turn this into the guide book, but just could not help it. Yes, it was a difficult time of our life. We did not know what is going to happen to us and where we are going, but we had high hopes and big dreams and we were free!

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