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An Isabel Archer Moment

An Isabel Archer Moment

 

Outside the Café Da Alfredo there are three small tables. A middle-aged man with lovely green eyes graciously made room for meat his table—the rest were occupied. After a few minutes of polite talk, he began to tell me his story. He had worked abroad in India but came back to Rome after his wife had died of consumption. “I was raised on this street,” he said, pointing down Via Guilia, “in that palace.” I looked doubtful. The Sachetti palace, dating back to the 15th century was 4 stories high. “Yes,” he said, “my father was the Marchese. My ancestors are buried in the Church of the Florentines”—here he pointed to the church just a block away. “A Marquese,” he pointed out gently, since I seemed ignorant of the rules of status, “is the equivalent of a prince. But I would not want to be a prince, there are too many German princes in Rome right now. I would rather be a Duke.” He pronounced the consonants strongly. Then he went on to tell me how his mother had died 30 years ago and his father had re-married and given everything to his new wife. “Now they are re-doing our garden. It faces the Tiber and is exquisite. I was a spoiled child, perhaps, but how I miss my home.” I sympathized. The scene lacked only Isabel Archer fresh from America, meeting the old world.