This article is published in number 38 of Vanity Fair on newsstands until 21 September 2021
Running after the ladies of the Roman salons has never hurt anyone. It is reaching them that is dangerous. Cruel, feared, devastating on the damask sofa; once seated at the table they also become avid political scientists, irreducible agit-props, aspiring first ladies. “A cemetery bursting with health” (Federico Fellini) which, after almost two years of medical imprisonment, has galloped back into the pre-Covid worldly life and their rascality and gross vulgarity stands out even more.
In a city, then, of various and powerful damaged powers, where between right and left in the end the choice always falls on the center-table; where cynicism rhymes with leccapiedismo and there is no vaccine against the virus called “a subject, a verb, a compliment”; here, rediscover Rome Godona after quarantines and lockdown if it comes out with trouble, on the verge of swooning. But are we really so terrible, so vulgar, so boorish? No, not even the pandemic has humanized us. Here is a wealthy and “agée” lady, famous for being the wife of a powerful state manager, but also famous for being ugly, but so ugly that her Polaroids don’t want to get out of the car. And okay, she’s a bit redone too: when she cries, the tears from her right eye fall on her left cheek. And yet when she enters the living room, our unraveled mummy receives courteous pleasantries, actually more appropriate for Federica Pellegrini or Paola Egonu, such as: “I find you in shape!”. Here are the three ages of women: youth, maturity and “I find you fit!”. Another living room. For some ladies, so smart that they don’t let themselves be enchanted by straight half-socks and who piss themselves at having “precise ideas about men”, gay functions like a restless and ironic aunt, so you can allow yourself intimate confidences, admit terrible guilt, deny harassing males. And sex is not involved: they don’t have the problem of saying yes or saying no. And then: a friend can always be a rival, the gay can not. These are the virtues. The habit is usual: they talk, how much they talk. The other evening one of them, in the great hustle and bustle of jokes and gossip, could not get a word out. On the verge of hysterics, he yelled, “Enough now! Shut up or I’ll show you the fi ..! ». Naming that “thing” had the same effect as garlic for vampires: dead silence. Come on, vulgarity is part of the character of Rome. It is the magnificent vulgarity of which the Latin authors, Plautus, Martial, Juvenal have left us testimony. It is the vulgarity of Satyricon of Petronius: a liberation, an enrichment, a victory over the fear of bad taste.
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