A Suburban City Girl in A Small Town

Moment by moment……

My Italia – Part One: Rome

on January 15, 2013

English: Panorama of the Trevi fountain at night.

 

I have so many memories from when I was a little girl, several of which I’ll write about in the future. One of my favorites is when the magic screen went up in the living room as my father pulled out the slide projector (remember those?) and showed pictures of far away places recently visited. The most common place was Italy. I remember spending many hours fascinated with the colors, the landscapes, the food and the art. Always at the end of these slide shows, I would smile my biggest smile and tell my father how much I wanted to go to his homeland. 

Years past and in those years, I made many plans to see Italy. However, life happens and soon I was married with two kids and somehow, Italy was just a dream. I got divorced and moved back home with two little girls to support and that dream was all but dust. But God has a way of making the impossible possible and I suddenly found myself standing in line at the O’hare Airport on September 15th, 2008 waiting to get checked in for my very first flight to Italy. 

The plane fascinated me. I had never seen anything so big in my whole life! Two seats on either side with three in the middle and we were seated right by the huge screen that showed our progress through the air. Take off was smooth and soon I was being served wine and had my first taste of blood orange juice. It was my first taste of Italy. Although ten hours long, I managed to occupy myself with a young woman traveling alone with a baby and an over-active toddler who was not about to be contained in a small space for that amount of time. Strangers become friends quickly during times like these and I enjoyed the woman’s conversation, her smile and the way her baby girl slept in my arms as we watched the sun rise while in the air. 

I’m sure the grin on my face was something to behold as I received my very first passport stamp. My father navigating the whole way, we soon found ourselves speeding (literally) towards Hotel Quattro Fontane in Rome. My first impression of Rome was art. It was everywhere; on the buildings, the doors, the door knobs, the sidewalk in front of the buildings, even the graffiti was artistic (although so much graffiti made me sad). Newer construction rested on top of the old. The city was busy and very alive. People littered the streets like ants at a picnic. No peace was found until we arrived at our hotel. 

Since our room wasn’t ready, we dropped off our suitcases and began our adventure! I couldn’t begin to tell you all the places we walked but we walked until we arrived at a little cafe. Sandwiches and pastries of every sort looked out from behind glass as our mouths watered. We were hungry. My sister and I decided to split a sandwich and we each ordered an arancini. Now for those of you who do not know what this is, allow me to describe it to you. An arancini, or Sicilian golden fried rice ball, seems to be a staple of life in Italy. They are, quite simply, meat and sauce surrounded by a blend of rice and cheese, coated with breadcrumbs and deep fried. They are not greasy or even heavy and they are so delicious. They also are very filling so the sandwich was actually not needed. (That’s the eyes-bigger-than-stomach syndrome.) Served with espresso, it was the perfect pick-me-up since I had been promised fettuccine alfredo later on. 

After our meal, we walked. And we kept walking. During our four day stay, we must have walked about seven to ten miles per day. There was so much to see! We stopped at a street vendor for hot chestnuts one night. The meat was so warm, it was soft and delicious on a chilly Italian evening. The promised fettuccine alfredo was a treat. In Italy, they bring the pasta to the table steaming and mix the cheese in it right there. So the cheese melts a midst a sea of aldente pasta and I’ll never use jarred Alfredo sauce ever again! 

The city was so vibrant until about 3 pm. Then it all seemed to shut down. Usually, we took some of that time to rest ourselves. But then 6 o clock came and it was as though the city took a deep breath in and released it all in a flurry of activity. The streets glittered with lights. Artists and peddlers arrived in the squares to sell their wares. Restaurants and cafes spilled out onto the streets. One night, we took advantage of a bit of dessert and coffee as we listened to a man play his guitar. This went on long into the night. 

Italian women were stunning and stylish. They wore jeans that fit their bodies or skirts with fashionable boots. Scarves were also worn and their makeup was impeccable. Italian men were equally fashionable. I saw no one walking around with their “pants on the ground”. They had nice sweaters, jackets and stylish scarves. They spoke in excitable tones, relaxed on the street, walked hand in hand and enjoyed life. I think the only thing I didn’t like was they smoke too much and even in the outside air, it was easy to get a mouthful of cigarette smoke. 

The artistry was beautiful everywhere we went. We went to the Vatican (the Sistine Chapel was beyond lovely), Trevi Fountain (yes, I did throw a coin in), the Borghese museum, the Colusseum and the Roman forum. The influence of several civilizations were felt in all these places. Walking through the Forum, I touched the walls ensconced at being surrounded by a culture thousands of years older than my own. If only those walls could talk! I touched them all, begging them to tell me their story. They didn’t disappoint. The zenith for me was visiting the beautiful Borghese museum on our last day. To see such a massive art collection under one roof was just magical and I loved every minute of it. 

But our Rome adventure came to an end as we picked up our rental car and my sister skillfully drove us out of the city towards…the Albisola Marina aka The Italian Riviera

 

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One response to “My Italia – Part One: Rome

  1. Kathleen says:

    I can’t wait to read your next installment! 🙂

    Like

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