Friday, March 19, 2004

Roman Holiday

Just a quick blog entry to tell everyone that I'm back from Rome! Corrie and Eric went on from Rome to visit Lucca, Eric's beloved favorite city with its grassy walls and Pisan-style piazzas, as I took a train through Umbria and back to Le Marche while the sun set behind the mountains.

Our time in Rome was wonderful. We stayed at a little convent right outside of the Vatican walls and strolled through Trastevere in the evenings. We visited the forum and imagined it under the stars with the buildings intact--a long stretch of activity instead of tourists pausing to take photos by disregarded columns.

We saw St. Peter's Basilica again, but through Eric's new eyes (his first time in Rome). Everything was taller and grander and more elegant than I had remembered: cherubs twice my size holding shells of holy water, the bronze statue of St. Peter with its toes worn away after years of pilgrims touching them, the Pieta.

And above all, we laughed and chatted and found the little places: an undiscovered galleria with its walls frescoed in art-noveau style, a restaurant where the waiter joked with us and fed us well, an Egyptian telling us the story of Abraham, a hospital on the Isola Tiburtina, the Angel Bridge at night.

By the end Eric made the whole trip complete: he nodded at us and said "I like Rome." Corrie and I smiled at each other, wanting to take credit for his enjoyment of this city, but refusing to. It is Rome that draws one in--her chaos as charming as it is confusing.

In the last moments, right before we headed back to the train station and to the crowded streets and heavy traffic, we stood near Capitoline hill on a terrace overlooking the city. There you could barely make out the different buildings--the greatness of the pantheon intermingling with nearby apartments, the cupolas of various churches almost indistinguishable from each other. It felt lived-in, this Rome. The colors were faded but still glorious, the streets were run down but still shining. This was a Rome that had layers and layers built on it, half-hazardly stacked one against the next, leaning on each other for support.

And in the pause and peacefulness of the view, I felt a sense of tension. For here Rome was in front of us, but you could hear her rolling toward us, slowly, wanting to pull us in to her layers. And I, despite a train I had to catch, a life I had to get back to in small town Macerata, stood gazing at Rome's liveliness and beauty, enchanted. In that moment I was almost ready to comply.



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