The last night of my short stop in Rome, I would like to visit my friend Stefano in his SM/adult shop Alcova. The shop is not close to any station of the two only Metro lines in Rome, and I could not find any bus information. Thus I decided to walk to the shop, following a 3.8 km route suggested by Google map, and see a bit of Rome on the way.

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I met Stefano when I visited Rome at about the same time last year. He is one of the most active rope person in Rome, and organises regular activities and courses. When I arrived I found him alone in the shop, with his eyes turning very red. He had recently had a flu and has not full recovered. Still, he kept his promise meeting me. He suggested that we go to Fluid, a bar near by. As the name suggests, the floors and tables are filled with coloured fluid that changes pattern when stepped on. We took some food from the salad bar, and ordered some drink.


“We are being bad examples,” said Stefano. He is concerned that there has been a competition to shoot photos with risky actions, and we have made shibari look too easy, that people would start trying before knowing how much preparation and practice need to be done, and how lucky we have been for not running into an accident. It is not surprising that he would say so — he has always been concerned about safety, to the point that he gives away free safety shears in his shop. I got one of them and still bring it with me wherever I tie.

On his shibari course, he said, “teaching shibari is like teaching one to cook. I can tell you what is wrong, for example, adding salt to coffee is almost certainly a bad idea. As for what is right, however, you and the person you cook for have the final words.” “Too many people think that learning (and teaching) shibari is about learning this knot and that friction. I tell them to sit back, relax, and find out what they want to do with ropes.”

“Like writing to your lover. You think not about the pen, but the poem.”

“There are so many aspects of shibari. Certain things are not for everyone. A course is like this salad bar. The student is presented many options, and pick what they want.”

“Sorry,” still in fever, he said, “when I talk about these, I get very passionate.”

In one evening, I’ve seen some lovely Roman streets, bought some nice Italian carabiner, and learned a lot. It was worth the walk.