February 4 2012
To discover Rome enfolded in glistening white snow is magical; the city is reborn.
Previously unnoticed places shimmer anew in the ancient city. Rustications on an ancient wall create a pattern reminiscent of mottled leather. The icy surface of the Tiber river reflects an uncharacteristically stark outline of the Castel Sant’Angelo. Nuns laugh as they create a snowman near the center of Piazza San Pietro. Tuxedo jacketed staff sweep snow from the entrances of cafés and restaurants. Snow shovels? Who ever heard of such a thing in Roma?
Along the Via dei Genovesi in the Trastevere neighborhood, a young man sits on a rickety wooden chair and plays his guitar. In the eerie blue-veiled onrush of winter evening, the sound of his music is muted by snow-covered streets and balconies. The muffled sounds lend an increasingly ethereal feeling to bianca Roma, white Rome.
Since buses are nearly at a standstill, a long walk seems appropriately in order. My destination is the AlexanderPlatz Jazz Club, located near the corner of Via Santamaura and Via Ostia, only a few blocks north of Vatican City.
Louis Hayes and the John Webber Trio are performing tonight. The first set begins at 10:30PM. The place is packed. AlexanderPlatz is the most famous, and the oldest, jazz venue in Italy. You cannot smoke in such places anymore in Italy; from my perspective a good thing. I can imagine, though, such clubs when the attendees filled the air with a curtain of smoke from “Nazionali,” a famous and inexpensive brand of Italian cigarettes.
As I relax with a good local red wine, the performance begins. For the next hour and a half we all delight in the talent that epitomizes great jazz. A haze of steam rises from wet clothing. Vapor wraps around the a few colored lights above the stage. “Midnight in Paris”? It has nothing on this experience. We might as well be ensconced in some 1930’s Roman jazz club, Geraldine Baker, perhaps, at the bar . . .
This is one of the locales few tourists know. Occasionally, the sound of American English stands out amidst the conversations that fill the air between pieces. It is more comforting to find retreat amidst the locals, and just be.
Near midnight, I leave the club and return to my hotel through a strangely black and white Eternal City, crossing the river on the Ponte Cavour, and revel in the memories and magic of a special gift from bella Roma; snowy jazz.
AlexanderPlatz Jazz Club
Via Ostia, 9
Tel: 06 39742171 – after 6:00PM
Monday-Thursday: Performances being at 9:45PM
Friday and Saturday: Performances begin at 10:30PM