Andrei Navrozov points out the bewildering aftereffects of the Tower of Babel.rnI recall, too, visiting S. Cecilia in Trasteverern(the little habited nun so disappointedrnwhen we gave her only the sum she requestedrnfor the tour), walking with thernFlemings beneath the plane trees on andrnin the neighborhood of the Viale Traste-rnere, Gail and I eniously eyeing thernpenthouse gardens oerhead, and pranzornat La Ceccha, where Andrei Navrozovrnled us (an old Mafia favorite, he explained,rnhung with more garlic dian yourneonld grow on ten hectares and, in thernnature of things, somewhat prieev). I recallrnstrolling on the east bank of the swiftflowingrntawny 1 iber, past the Isola Tiberinarnas far as the Piazza della Bocca dellarnVerita and S. Maria in Cosmedin, wherernthe Bocca itself resides. The Bocca dellarnVerita, or Mouth of Truth, is a large stonernmedallion (originallv a drain cover) withrnthe likeness of a man’s face, openmouthed:rnLegend has it that the liar whornthrusts his hand into the mouth will havernit bitten oft. (Thinking that ever’ vTiterrnought to hae one, I bought a small plasterrnreplica of the Bocca to carry homernwifti me.) Finally, I recall the last dav inrnRome, a da- to myself, in vhich to lookrnaround on my own —and shop, like anyrngood American. A man can’t visit Romernw^ithout bringing back something prettvforrnthe ladies.rnThe weather haing turned cool underrna gra)’ sk, I wore a topcoat and hat for myrnwalk along the Corso. (Unlike in Milanrnlast spring, the modified Stetson with thernpewter elk-head hat pin I wear on trips tornthe East Coast and abroad seemed an objectrnless of hostilit)- than of euriosit’ inrnRome.) Buing presents for women isrnsomething I enjoy, and am practiced at.rnIn a boutique I had previously noticedrnnear the Piazza del Gesu, I found a lovelyrnwool scarf for Jennifer lAieas (its shadernof blue just matching her blue eves) inrnMicliigan, and onl) a few doors awav arnwoolen pancha, a kind oilongsempe borderedrnbv tassels, for Rhonda Stevenson inrnCalifornia, the burgundy dve a perfectrnoftset for her brovn ones.rnWhat a woman would have needed anrnentire afternoon and the following morningrnto accomplish, I had taken care of inrna quarter of an hour. With my packagesrnunder my arm and a few hours’ free timernleft, I looked in at the church of S. Andrearndella Valle, begun in 1 591 and completedrnby Carlo Maderno, a side chapelrnof which is ftie setting for the first act ofrnTosca. (A production by the MetropolitanrnOpera in the 1970’s had a black ironrngate with gilded points between thernchapel and die nave; one exactly like itrncloses off the first chapel to your left asrnyou enter die church.) From S. Andrea,rnI proceeded along the Corso as far as thernRoute Vittorio Fmmanucle II, where —rnvvidiin sight of the Castel S. Angelo (fromrnwhose parapet Tosca throws herself intornthe Tiber) —I turned left along the riverrn^ bank in search of the Cenci Palace. Therni C e n c i – a noble family which becamern2 extinct in 1599 vhen Pope Clement VIIIrn5 himself ordered its surviving membersrnexecuted for the murder of the patriarch,rnCount Cenci-was still a source of fascinationrnfor Romans when Shelley visitedrnthe city around 1820 and as late as thern185f)’s when Hawthorne spent a winterrnthere. Intrigued himself b- this historicalrntragedy, from which he wrung strongl}rnantipapal conclusions, Shelley wrote arnpla’ about the beautiful Beatrice who, afterrnl)eing raxished b’ her father, conspiredrnwith her mother and brother tornmurder the depraved count. From thernLungotevere d. Vallati, I turned into thernVia Aremila and from there into a warrenrnof narrow crooked streets among which Irnfound the Palazzo Cenci, still a .sprawlingrnt.f „.„.A|kirn’ i ‘ i t . ^ ^ W ‘ ^rnChris Check, Ruth Besemer, and Chilton Williamson, Jr., visit thernColosseum.rnAPRIL 2001/35rnrnrn