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Notes from a Roman Terrace

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Joan Marble has lived in a 16th century Roman Palazzo apartment with husband Robert, a sculptor, for thirty years. A lifetime of integrating with the Romans and gardening on her beloved terrace above the roof tops has resulted in this entertaining memoir. ighly personal and brimming with anecdote, history, and insight, Joan's experience of Rome and Romans is infected by her contagious fascination for plants, a hobby she shares every week with The Women's Gardening Club of Rome. She includes an insider's view of Italian fellow gardening obsessives, a tale of Bicycle Thieves, and an authoritative view of famous Italian Gardens. We also hear the curious history of her ancient apartment off the Piazza Borghese, and meet some eccentric neighbours. Tales abound of the expat community, and the illustrious writers and aristocrats with whom the author, as a journalist, keeps company. At the same time, Joan infuses her memoir with an affection for her plants, and scatters tips and personal stories of how to keep her fickle plants alive. compelling blend of anecdote, humour and fact, this will inform and delight for armchair travellers and gardeners everywhere.
Product Details

Table of Contents

Part 1 Panem - bread: the sounds of Rome; moving day for the Cook family; settling in; a terrace is born; walking Henry to school; a bad year for bicycle thieves; the backpack set; La Portiera; skeletons under our terrace. Part 2 Friends and flower people: Eugene and the post-war revival; the late flowering of Ninfa; unusual lady gardeners; Sandra, the beautiful cat-catcher; gentlemen gardeners; nature notes after a long summer. Part 3 Circenses - circuses: a visit from Betty Friedan; how a game becomes a circus; our Borghese pope; the tax office shuffle; Antonio di Pietro - the rise and fall of a good man; Gabby the Gabbiano's aerial circus; our jubilee terrace under attack; envoi.

About the Author

Joan Marble is a member of the Rome Garden Club and the Foreign Journalists' Association in Rome. Born in Boston and educated at Smith College, she wrote her first published article about the Rose Garden at the White House. Her book, Notes from an Italian Garden, told of how she created a garden in the hamlet of Canale just north of Rome. Her most recent book, Notes from a Roman Terrace is also published by Black Swan. She and her husband divide their time between Rome, Canale and London.


Joan Marble has written a totally congenial if inconsequential account of ex-pat life in various apartments in Rome. Dotted with charming line drawings, anecdotes and tips about growing plants in pots, this Roman quilt of a book describes the minutiae of moving, right down to the mountaineering skills required to install a tap on the terrace. Indeed, the entirety is watered with droplets of Roman history and gardening lore. Eccentrics abound, as well as a street cat with the sense to ride the lift up five flights rather than climb the stairs to another ex-pat who puts out food. As an American-born denizen of central Rome, Marble has observed it struggle back to life from World War II, only to change from a sleepy village into a hectic metropolis invaded by traffic.

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