I’ve been a little down on Rome lately. Despite the fact that it’s September, the temperature remains 90 degrees. The heat intensifies and bakes the already-pervasive urine smell of my street, causing me to dry-heave every time I step out of my door. It’s noisy, it’s stinky, and nothing seems to work (where is my disgruntled emoticon?).
But I was looking through some old notebooks tonight and came across something I jotted down last February, during my first year here inRome. It made me smile.
“Each day here inRomebrings something wonderful. Today I needed to do some work at the AIRC and my walk took me past the Colosseum, past the Basilica of Constantine and Maxentius, and through Piazza Venezia. I took a right on the street where Jess’s art gallery is and wandered West and ending up coming out on the northeast side of Piazza Navona.
“There was this moment–I stepped into the sunlight of the piazza, the sun hit my face, cobblestones at my feet, the sound of Bernini’s Four Rivers fountain, seagulls soaring past Saint Agnes’s dome, and then this cloud of little bubbles came floating through the air around me. I got butterflies. Seriously. I feel like the city is wooing me. Bubbles and fountains and cobblestones and soaring seagulls; basilicas and palazzos and statues and laundry lines; the sun kissing my cheek and the city watching me blush. I’m just so, so in love with the city.
“Walking home later I took a different path of streets and came out by the Pantheon. In the evening the whole interior is brilliantly lit and the oculus in the center is dark. Dark blue. Every time it’s magnificent. You feel like your soaring. Like the heavens have opened up before you. It’s this feeling in my stomach.”
However naive or cliche, moments like that remind me of Rome’s charm, of it’s beauty, of it’s magic. I think that’s part of what makes Rome so special, that it can woo anyone. It can beguile the elite academic, pondering the ruins of the Forum. It can romance the artist, gazing up at Michaelangelo’s ceiling, Bernini’s baldachinos, Borromini’s facades. It can seduce the foodie with its mozzarela di bufala, its silky pastas, its mortadella. And, of course, it can captivate the tourist who jumped on a plane for another place.
Like any place, Rome has its positives and negatives, it’s good days and bad days. On a bad day, or during a bad few days, sometimes it’s nice to look back at what made you first fall in love.