For 37 years I lived in a bubble. My little world revolving around the northern hemisphere with democratic rhetoric and sweet southern courtesy.
My minuscule life consisted of small towns in the Bible Belt, a few trips out west and holidays at the beach as my only adventures…..then I left the country. First stop, Rome!
As a very small fish in an intimidating pond, I immediately realized my tiny significance the moment I boarded the plane in Boston. So many world travelers, people who took comfort in our across-the-world flight that made me nervous and raised my blood pressure.
It was my first trip out of the country and I was intimidated but also just as excited. What else was out there beyond my little bubble? Bring it on!!!!
The 14 hour trip was exhausting. Our stop in Lisbon, only tolerable by my best friends ability to navigate the airport and very strong drinks, was excruciating. But once we landed…. my god, the beauty overwhelmed me.
While navigating the metro seemed daunting, it was far overshadowed by the architectural wonder of this ancient city. I could have been lost there for days with no food or water and been elated.
Our air BNB (casa Visconti) was magnificent. In the residential city of Prati, it gave us the opportunity to live as real Romans. A quaint neighborhood of mom and pop restaurants and shops, free from brand names and commercial nonsense, it drew me in like a warm blanket. Like home.
Social media, replaced by architecture, culture and ambiance. There aren’t words for how comforting a place like Rome can make you feel. Like no matter how foreign you are, you belong here.
After indulging in pasta at a local restaurant for dinner we had a good nights sleep followed by a trip to Vatican City. The delicate nature of the artistry, the boldness of the statues and infrastructure, the views from the top of the Vatican dome are unlike anything I will ever see again.
Piazza Navona invoked peace and tranquility, surrounded by the intensity of street performers and artists making a living for our Euros. Statues and fountains surrounded by tourists like me in awe of their beauty, I knew there could not be another place like this.
Traveling on to the Colosseum, Palatine Hill, the Spanish Steps and the Trevi Fountain…. it’s like I had no words for the picturesque scenery that laid before me. Thousands of years displayed out in all of its elegance in front of me, walking along streets trodden by great men and women of history we can only begin to imagine we know about, I was humbled.
I will forever be impressed upon by Rome’s food and wine. The simplicity of the ingredients such as homemade pasta and sauces, the regional ingredients paired with delicate wines found only in this country, have forever changed the way I smell and taste things we in the US call “Italian”. Nothing we have in the US will ever compare.
Beyond it’s inconceivable physical splendor, Rome made me feel welcome like an old friend. It warmed my heart like Cindy Who did for the grinch.
If you are ever a cynic of life, take a long trip to Rome and come back with a full belly, a whole heart and the peace created by a city that embraces everyone like they belong there. A city that doesn’t boast about its beauty, because they don’t realize how beautiful it is.
And hey, if you aren’t amazed by its beauty, you can drink wine on the streets and the best food in the world is just around the corner.
Rome will change you.