“Kiss mine,” or a dialogue something like that happened in the 18th century between Nick Salvi – the guy mostly responsible for the above Trevi Fountian – and a barber who didn’t much care for Nicola’s handiwork, and wasn’t shy about saying so. You can still see where said barber’s shop was in the above photo. It’s the shop behind that irregular outcropping in back. That’s of course because Salvi obliged the barber’s reticence with a special deviation – a cup sculpted into a rock large enough to block the loose-tongued Figaro’s view.
Salvi died before he could finish his fountain and I’m pretty sure the barber’s been dead for a quarter millennium or so. But their story, the fountain and Salvi’s “Kiss my ass. Big time,” remain.
Not quite in the same vein but not so far off either is Salumeria Ciavatta, about 50 feet or so away on Via Lavatore. The shop’s been around since 1956 – not quite as long as the fountain but seeing how mass tourism has changed the economy and notions of quality on the Via Crucis, (see earlier posts), it’s amazing not only that it’s still in business but that it still tries to bring some of the best quality and least known Italian and European agricultural products to light. It’s surrounded by all the nick-knack, false ‘Italian’ supermarkets, bad ice-cream parlors and pizza-slice take-away joints that have opened up in recent years. And Ciavatta admits that despite his best efforts, he often ends up having to throw nearly the entirety of some shipments of exquisite cheeses and the like after they’ve remained unsold in his shop. But he keeps slugging away.
If you happen to be close by on Thursady afternoon, please pass by all those other cheap tourists traps. Plop into the shop, tell him a freind recommended that you pick up some of the freshest, most flavorful Mozzarella di Campagna DOC that will have just arrived that morning. Then go sit near the fountain, open the package and slowly start eating. As you see all the other Japanese, Korean, Russian, German, Irish, Chinese, etc, tourists chomping on their fake gelato or poor pizza slices, let the undescribably satisfying flavor penetrate your mouth and nose. Glance over at Salvi’s ‘Ace of Cups’, barber-defying sculpture and smile. (And, if you know any other good delis in Rome, please let us know.)