. . . Our “Children”. . .
[before Jenny !] . . ?

. . . now that Nicola was ‘making money’, he decided that the next ‘part of his Dream’ MUST come true . . . !  - - -  a House and a Studio, belonging to HIM !!

We left ‘our first home’, his one-room studio in Trastevere and went to live (for the time it would take to find, and build, his Dream Studio !!) just behind Via Veneto, in a top floor studio-apartment

- - - in Via Piemonte !!
I loved this ‘new place’ . . . right in the centre of “my Rome” . . . I could walk everywhere, and Villa Borghese, and the park, were at the top of Via Veneto. I used to sit at Doney or Café de Paris, buy an English newspaper, and have a delicious coffee

- - - and Nicola?

HE was building his dream studio, in Grottaferrata [in the Alban Hills which overlook Rome to the Southeast] and would return, in the evening, full of ‘stories’ and ‘groans’ about his “problems with the builders”. So, to ‘brighten up his day’, we would go to one of our favourite restaurants (or Trattoria) and meet friends . . . mostly, it would be ‘da Otello’, in Via della Croce . . . or maybe Piazza Navona, or Trastevere. . . !

Nicola was missing our frequent, but independent, “visitor” . . . we called him “Silvester”, he was a black and white tom-cat who made his home in our Trastevere Studio - - - and later bringing with him, his young ‘wife’ “Foodina” [named this, because every time I opened the kitchenette door, she would be there !] - - - they were very independent (as cats are!!), but Nicola loved them, and he ‘missed them’ !

One day, walking home, I passed the Pet Shop, in Via Frattina - - - in the window were 4 Siamese kittens !!! “NO” I heard, screaming in my ear !!!
BUT - - - one of the Kittens - - - silent ‘miaow-ed’ me - - - HOW COULD I RESIST?? !!             And - - - I didn’t resist !! I struggled, with the shoe-box [and Chu-Chu inside!], through an angry mob shouting at the Spanish Embassy and met a kind Carabiniere on horse-back, who ‘protected me’ across Piazza di Spagna, to a hidden flight of steps, behind the famous ‘Spanish Steps’ . . . he wished me ‘luck’ and disappeared !! I climbed the steps and walked up to Via Veneto, and ‘home’! . . . Chu-Chu’s adventures had just begun!! I had named him after a Siamese friend of ours, in England . . . Prince Chula of Chundragor, a Siamese Prince (who lived in Cornwall).

I walked into our studio-apartment, put Chu-Chu on the floor, and, before I could say anything, he headed for Nicola’s shoulder, where he sat and purred (LOUDLY!) !!! Nicola was ‘speechless’ (a rare moment!) . . . THEY BONDED IMMEDIATELY. . . and from then on, wherever we went, Chu-Chu came with us. In those days, there were lots of Chu-Chu “stories . . .
Sitting on my shoulder in Via Veneto . . . helping to ‘row’ our boat, in Capri . . . chasing the chickens, being kept on the next door roof, and getting thrown into the street by the ‘Portiere’ . . . being found in the ‘posh’ Parioli section of Rome . . . chasing the pigeons in Verona’s main Piazza !! [he lived to the ripe-old-age of 17 . . . even with all his adventures!]

Later, that summer, Anita Ekberg (a great friend of ours), insisted Chu-Chu “needed” a wife ! . . . so NOW we had 2 ‘children’ . . .
Kimi (“Kimi Chan” = Japanese for “little miss tiny”)
was a tiny little ‘person’, with a crooked tail, and a BIG personality . . . [talk about ‘bossy’!]

“where’s lunch ! - - - we’re waiting . . .!”

sketched by Nicola . . . while on the telephone . . .

Once the Studio and Villa (and pool) were finished, we (Nicola, Chu-chu, Kimi and I) went up to Grottaferrata, to “settle in” !

Our ‘Life in the Country’ was about to begin !!! - - - and gradually, more ‘animals’ - - -Cats, dogs, terrapin turtles, tropical birds, hamsters, tropical fish, a Mynah bird (who called Nicola’s name with “my” voice!), pigeons and a tortoise - - - oh! and rabbits, and a gerbil ?!. . . moles, mice and rats were locals !! these  our cats “respected”. Oh! - - - and - - -OUR dogs only chased OUR cats . . . other cats had ‘free range of the property’ . . . Nicola was blissfully “happy” - - - what more could he ‘want’ !!

Later, came “Tai” (short for “Tai-fu” a windstorm!)

- - - and “Moogy” [or “moogoo gai pan” a delicious Chinese dish]

they all loved to sit on top of the huge bird cage (with tropical birds) and “dream” of “a delicious snack” . . .

more telephone pencil sketches by Nicola Simbari 1968

. . . will there be more ‘animal stories’ - - - Who knows !!

- - - and in January 1969 ?

The Princess arrived . . . 

and became THE BOSS, of all she ‘surveyed’ !!!

including the pigeons in Venice !

Nicola became “Poppy” and, with lots of help from ‘others’,

I became “Mamma” !!!

NOW Chu-Chu and Kimi had a REAL BOSS !!

And . . . SO DID WE

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