I friggin’ love Rome. I didn’t think I would. But I do.
Actually, I didn’t know what to expect from Rome. Friends who shared about their trips to Italy never talked much about Rome. The city was conspicuously absent from their tales, and as our train approached Rome, I wondered why. Of course, you hear about the Colosseum, the Vatican, the Forum, yada yada yada; everyone knows about them, everyone goes to them, so they don’t warrant further explanation. But other than hearing about how many of the Roman sights required advance booking (FYI, this is very true; don’t skip this step for either the Vatican or the Borghese Gallery), and that my sister thought the pizza was bad (FYI, she was very wrong; you just need to know where to look), we learned precious little about it.
But what about Rome itself? What is the city like? Would we be enchanted like in Paris? Would we be charmed as in London? Would we be jumping out of the way of mopeds like in Florence? No one ever told me what to expect.
And so it was we set out from our guesthouse with some apprehension. Our landlady, Vitoria, had armed us with a map on which she had circled the important things and scrawled the bus numbers we needed to know. When she described –in a combination of English, Spanish, and Italian, mind you–the order in which we were to tackle the sights, it sounded like a military operation. So off we went, uncertain.
But the further we walked the more we appreciated the colorful plaster facades, the gleaming stones that paved the streets, and the vistas that emerged at the crests of the hills. We turned corners and found pieces of ancient buildings and monuments interspersed between more modern ones. The hodgepodge delighted us. The whole city seemed like a patchwork quilt, its makers unperturbed that the squares all came from different millennia. The late September sun warmed us throughout the day at a perfect 73 degrees. So we just kept going.
Oh my, that’s the Colosseum right in front of us! Ooo, that building has such beautiful flowers. See Trajan’s Column? It has 2500 figures carved into its spiraling frieze. Look, there’s an older couple singing a duet on the street corner and they can only kind of carry a tune. Those columns on the Pantheon are ginormous. Is that St. Peter’s? It is St. Peter’s–All lit up at night!
We just kept walking until feet refused to take us any further.
And as if I didn’t have enough reasons to be tickled by Rome, I just discovered that “I Love Rome” in Italian is a palindrome: Amo Roma.