It’s been almost two weeks since Amy and I returned from our Roman Christmas vacation, and it’s taken us this long to go through the almost three thousand or so photos. Yes. Almost three thousand. You, lucky reader, get the cream of the crop. So let us begin with some excerpts from Rome.
I believe most people who’ve visited Rome would agree with me when I say that there’s something oddly familiar and comfortable about it. I’m not sure if it’s the people, the history we learn in grade school, or the general atmosphere, but something about Rome relaxes you. There’s no need to rush, no need to obey any traffic laws, and there’s definitely nothing stopping you from a third pistachio gelato.
However, under today’s cushy cultural surface that cradles you with plates of saltimbocca, spaghetti carbonara, casual conversation, and coffee after dinner is a truly staggering history that makes you a little mentally uncomfortable. Just the length and depth of Roman history stretches my brain into a squealing, squishy turmoil, and it’s one thing to learn it in a grade school classroom where Rome is just some fantastical, mythical city a thousand or two miles away, but when you are physically in Rome you can’t help feeling a bit anxious as you delve into the history around you. There are over 900 churches in Rome and each one has a story that would take over an hour to tell. Then, when you add monuments, plazas, streets, museums, neighborhoods, fountains, and galleries to you list of “to research” and “to visit” do you truly understand the amazing history you just landed in. I think the juxtaposition of the comfortable and uncomfortable is what makes Rome one of humanity’s most significant and awe-inspiring creations.
And lucky for us, Rome’s history isn’t simply tucked safely into museums (although they sure do have stuff in their museums, Madre mía) it’s on the streets, inside churches, right in front of your face! Therefore, when you venture forth to explore you end up with the real deal and heaps of it: Bernini’s statues, Borromini’s churches, Michelangelo’s frescos, sacred mosaics from the 5th century, tombs from the first century that are untouched, the list goes on. The best advice I can give about the anxiety that comes with being in Rome is to just soak it in, and stop worrying about attempting to know the history of everything (although it makes your visit more meaningful.) LIE. The only way to TRULY squelch the anxiety is to take notes on things you love, buy a lot of books from Amazon, walk the streets from morning until night, and to swear (cross your heart and hope to die, stick a needle in your eye) to come back. Promising to return as you lick the last bit of stretchy mozzarella off your fork is as easy as breathing, and it’s the only way to enjoy both the history of Rome and the laid-back attitude of Roman culture today. And speaking of those Romans, oh boy did I learn some things from them. They may smoke more than Patsy Cline and almost kill you with their teeny Fiats, but these people know how to enjoy life. There is the focus on family that we see here in Spain, the almost bloodthirsty obsession with wine, and of course the food. Since Spanish and Italian are so close, I could make out many conversations between Romans, all of which involved food. When they aren’t planning their next meal, or remembering a previous one, they are eating. Amy and I took this lesson to heart. They don’t have that saying, “when in Rome..” for nothing. But my favorite thing about Romans is their confidence. They look great (they have Gucci, Armani, Ferragamo, and Prada local,) they sound great (I mean who doesn’t want to learn Italian?) and they have the confidence that comes from being part of a city and a historical legacy that the world respects. That, I think, is pretty cool.
Thanks for reading, and stay tuned.
Kate and Amy, SL
Italian Word of the Day: Due | Two (as in that will be due scoops of gelato thanks)
Song of the Day: Somos Novios | Andrea Bocelli & Christina Aguilera