Jenny Holzer, White Shoes, and Old Lovers

https://rachelsigner.substack.com/p/jenny-holzer-white-shoes-and-old

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I started getting into Jenny Holzer because my work-in-progress is a novel whose protagonist is an artist – specifically, a female artiste. Immersing myself in the careers of artists who identify as women, I came upon Holzer’s “truisms” — a collection of short phrases printed on posters and originally distributed around New York City in random public places, in the late 70s.

Later, the truisms became part of an installation at the Guggenheim which included a LED text loop that spiralled around the inside of the museum as if it were traveling along a snail’s background.

Holzer’s whirlwind of words, lights, and objects designed to make us consider the weight of language has once again taken over the Guggenheim, with some very timely updates. It’s a powerful use of space and absolutely unmissable if you’re in New York this summer.

While in New York, I wore a pair of shoes I bought in Rome and it got me thinking about a really weird topics: the idea of being monogamous to a city. In my book, You Had Me at Pét-Nat, I described being in a toxic relationship with New York yet unable to leave.

Now, visiting New York bears the sense of crossing paths with an old lover: One feels inescapably attracted to the source of old pains, tempted to rekindle the flame and slightly ashamed by the idea. But I have to say that there’s something very satisfying about realizing that you’ve well and truly moved on from a city you loved. I now have a totally platonic relationship with New York, and I would say the same about Paris. We’re happy to greet each other. A quick drink together. But time has marched and I am no longer the woman I was when I loved New York, when I loved Paris. I am someone else now.

Which brings me to: Roma.

It is impossible for me to move around Roma, whether on a bus or a vespa or by foot (I have yet to attempt on a bicycle) without momentarily picturing myself in Audrey Hepburn’s role, standing atop one of the Seven Hills amongst the tall pines, looking out at 2000-year-old ruins of empire.

Rome is intoxicating and yet it is also a really relaxing place to be. You don’t get a takeaway coffee and stomp along the street on your phone, in Rome. You take your coffee at the neighborhood bar, chatting amongst friends. You draw out the minutes of an aperitivo, letting it get dusky before you make your way to a trattoria. You walk admiring the beauty of the architecture around Campo de’Fiori, the way the city is cared for.

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I don’t claim to be an expert on Rome but I’ve had some fantastic experiences there recently. I know from my inbox that a *lot* of you are going to Italy this year! Bravi. You won’t regret it. (But consider avoiding Roma in July or August.)

Secondo me, these are the places not to miss. This post is free, but I do hope that if you like it you’ll consider supporting LA MESCITA. Sharing is great, too.

Aperitivo spots

Mostro | Piramide

Drink fun (and less commonly seen) bottles while gazing at a pyramid built around two thousand years ago.

Latteria | Trastevere

Snacks, bottles, outdoor tables. Popular spot. Not open very late for some reason. A drink before you head to dinner at L’Antidoto (discussed below).

Fischio | Piazzale degli Eroi

Take the metro or a cab out here for a sunset drink and you may catch a serious DJ set. Fischio is basically a kiosk, honoring the time-honored tradition of gathering to drink in a piazza. Grab a sandwich from Becco. Ask for something fun, and Fischio will pull out a bottle you’ve never seen.

Circoletto | Circo Massimo

Spot for perfectly poured natural wines and bites. Late night. Hosts pop-ups.

Solovino Enoteca Naturale | near Fischio

Iconic destination for natural wine in Rome. Something for everyone here. They’re happy to talk to you in depth about the wines. Know their stuff.

L’angolo Divino | Campo de’Fiore

The godfather of natural wine serves you exactly what you need. Aperitivos, a light lunch, detailed tastings. Ideal to book ahead.

Lunch, Dinner, etc

Bar SOTA | Villa Borghese

Although SOTA is mostly a smashburger place whose regular beverage menu highlights canned wine, they also offer pop-ups featuring visiting chefs with some absolutely incredible wine pairings. If you’re heading to Rome and they’re hosting an event, consider getting tickets. It will be an absolutely un-touristy and very delicious experience.

Enoteca Antidoto | Trastevere

Honestly some of the best food I’ve had in Italy. Chefs rotate seasonally but the consistents are: everything is fresh and creative. Impeccable presentation. Wine by the bottle only. Book in advance, it’s small. Dinner only.

Da Corrado al Banco + Piatto Romano | Testaccio

I’m grateful to cookbook author Rachel Roddy for allowing me to tag along as she visited her regular spots: Da Corrado wine bar in the covered Testaccio market (which in itself is an amazing place, an institution, look for Banco 18, pictured above) and Piatto Romano, whose carbonara literally changed my life (I can’t stop trying to perfect my recipe). Piatto Romano (booking recommended) doesn’t really serve 100 percent natural wine and they don’t serve it by the glass, but there are some gems on the list (try something from Le Quattre Volte in Calabria). And da Corrado often hosts Italian producers. It’s a great aperitivo spot. Grazie, RR!

Beppe e i Suoi Formaggi | Campo de’Fiori

I cried a small tear when I walked in and saw the cheeses. Then, the wine selection was just as good and I said TAKE ME I’M YOURS. Wines here that nobody else has. Very special place. I regret not ordering more dishes, the ravioli looked fantastic.

Retrobottega | Campo de’Fiori

Date night classy. Gorgeous takes on classic Italian dishes in an amazing, modern atmosphere with all sorts of interesting stuff to drink. A mixture of hardcore natural, and more artisanal wine (as evidenced by the bottles they use to decorate their bathroom).

And don’t forget to pick up some white heeled sandals in Campo de’Fiori. They’ll carry you where you need to go.

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