The Grand Ezra

I visited Roma in the springtime and enjoyed a fair amount of sun and rain. Between looking for a place with enough shade and a street vendor to buy a stylish umbrella, I discovered a small piazza and one of the most beautiful coffee houses in the city. Continue below for the authentic caffetiera…

GRAN CAFE 2

On the west corner of Piazza di Pietra you will find the original Italian Gran Caffè La Caffetiera. A spacious coffee house created by the Campajola family from Napoli who has a 60 year tradition in gastronomy. The impressive interior is decorated by the architect Riccardo Dalisi and the atmosphere reminded me of the unforgettable scene in Woody Allen’s “Midnight In Paris”, where Gil meets the Fitzeralds.

Gran Caffè is perfect for all hours of the day, whether it’s early in the morning or late in the afternoon. It’s surely the place I picked for my aperitivo at 7 o’ clock which was accompanied with delicious finger food.

There are many tables outside the Gran Caffè and if I hadn’t spent so much time taking photographs of the pastry, lasagna and espresso machine I would be able to show you the cafe’s beautiful facade. Maybe next time… Now that you know about Gran Caffè, continue below to find out about the Grand Ezra…

Place: Gran Caffè “La Caffettiera”

Ambient noise: low
Opening Times: 07:30–22:00

Address: Piazza di Pietra, 65 – 00186 Roma
Tel.: +39 066798147


About the Book:

Insatiable, formidable, provocative and a true hurricane of words, Ezra Pound, is the subject of a 300-page biography written by C. David Heymann after extensively researching previously classified FBI files on the poet’s activities at the beginning of the 40’s. Part of this immense volume of information from the secret services is presented in The Last Rower and unfortunately, it is to blame for Heymann’s uneven account of this remarkable poet’s life.

EZRA POUND THE LAST ROWER 1

Pound was a catalyst to 20th century literature but as a consequence of his strong pro-Fascist and anti-semitic views (as expressed on radio broadcasts from Italy during World War II, in his written correspondence with political figures like Mussolini and in some of his poems) and because, at some point, he started to maniacally direct all his creative energy into fascist propaganda, I believe that his influence has been largely ignored.

EZRA POUND THE LAST ROWER 6

Nevertheless, way before he turned into “a man no longer in touch” as Heymann observed, he produced a rich body of work. Unfortunately, Heymann dedicates a mere 80 pages to the first prolific 53 years of the poet’s life, where he befriended literary figures such as Ernest Hemingway and William Carlos Williams; aided financially and promoted the work of T.S. Eliot, James Joyce and many others; served as an assistant to Yeats; published the anthology of the Imagistes movement, helped translate The Odyssey and The Divine Comedy.

EZRA POUND THE LAST ROWER 5

Especially when Heymann moves on to writing about the legal trials of Pound (he was accused of treason against the United States), he dedicates several pages to quoting unnecessary and repeated legal information. In the chapter “Purgatory” I quickly skimmed through all these boring details only to discover that the part of how Pound spent his “last weekend in America” (meeting with William Carlos Williams and being photographed by Richard Avedon before he boarded on the Cristoforo Colombo to Italy), as well as his interview when he reached the harbor of Naples, are all covered in only one page.

Ezra’s last years (1958-1972) in chapters Paradise and Coda: To The End, are given around 50 pages including a few interesting pictures. During this time, Ezra had mostly gone quiet, although he would still agree to radio interviews and he seemed to have regretted his past actions.

I have lived all my life believing that I knew something. And then a strange day came and I realised that I knew nothing, that I knew nothing at all. And so words have become empty of meaning (…) I do not work any more. I do nothing. I fall into lethargy, and I contemplate… Everything that I touch, I spoil. I have blundered always”.

There is so much more to Pound than you will discover in this book, so I am not sure The Last Rower is a good basis to start from. Stay tuned for more…

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