Tuesday, November 08, 2011

travel tuesday: rome

After my post about Cinque Terre last week, I was going to talk about somewhere other than Italy this week, but I was chatting with a co-worker about Rome this afternoon, and I got that heart ache. The one where you conjure up an image of somewhere and you get a little all senses memory hit. 

The way the light filters into the Pantheon, a cool stream of light that cuts a swath across the floor.

The cool humidity coming off the Trevi Fountain at dusk. It's bustling with people all hours of the day, but it seems like a party in the evening. People eat gelato, chat with each other. It doesn't feel quite as much a "get out of my photo-op" as it did earlier in the day.

It was nice to maneuver out of the way of everyone else's photos and just people watch.  The photo below is where we were standing to take the photo above.

The pure sound of silence in the Sistine Chapel when you're the only ones there.
Not the Sistine Chapel, but the map room in the Vatican museum is pretty cool.

(I don't have a picture of this one since photos aren't allowed in the Sistine Chapel, but my memories of it are as much about the sounds of that room as they are the magnificent ceiling.)  I'll throw in a photo of the Swiss Guard for you, how's that?

The music of the rollerbladers in the Borghese Gardens, mingling with the taunts they shout at each other, egging the next one over or under the limbo stick.

The taste of the gelato we bought across the street from Largo Argentina, which we ate while we strolled around and counted feral cats in the ruins.

The late afternoon light at the Colosseum, as the shade began to climb upwards.

The nearly unbelievable expanse of St. Peter's Basilica. The longer you're standing in it the larger you realize it is.

Rome is so very old. It's ruins piled on ruins and then a 500 year old building newly built on top of that.  Like New York City, it has it's own way of making you feel small.  

But more than small, it makes you feel how transient life is. These ruins have been here for thousands of years.  And they'll be here for a thousand more after we die. They will outlast us. 

I think it would be amazing to live in a city like that, one that is always reminding you that you're only here for a moment, the smallest grain of time. There is a certain kind of Italian shrug (very different from the French one, I think), that says "eh, we're all going to die. What are you going to do about it?"

I guess I understand that. You walk by the Pantheon every day, or take the metro by the Colosseum to get to work, then you're constantly being reminded of that fact.  

On our last day in Rome, we went up to the Borghese Gardens to see the view of Rome, and wander around like the Romans do on a Sunday afternoon. We sat down for a moment to rest our feet after a long day of walking, and we saw ourselves. 

At least, a version of ourselves, 30+ years from now.  While I hope we're laughing more than these two did when we're their age, I hope we love each other as much as they seemed to love each other.

 When I say "We saw ourselves in Rome," I of course mean this little interlude, but also I think we felt the possibility of a life there, in amongst the ruins. 

I know one thing.  We'll certainly be going back to Rome. Hopefully soon.

*All photos are either mine or Mr. Bump's much more fabulous ones. The full set of Italy photos can be found on his Flickr site.

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