Sunday, December 2, 2012

Faraway Adventures: Rome Part I

{Who is ready for some Italy pictures?! The storyteller in me wants to tell you every single detail of every single day along with sharing some pictures, the typist in me, not so much,  so I am going to spread the posts out along the next week or two. That will also allow for other stories to pop in, like the approaching appearance of that creepy inflatable snowman in the neighborhood, and banjo references, gotta always save room for those.}

If I am being completely honest, it took me a little bit to fall in love with Rome, or Roma as the locals say. You see, Rome is a big city full of people, traffic,  crowded subway cars, and more people. You probably know this, I should of known this. Somewhere in the midst of rushing here and there, trying to keep up with my very fast walker of a sister, and trying to keep my too impatient to wait at the crosswalk mom from jetting into oncoming traffic, my heart sank.  To be fair to my mom, it seemed each Roman had their own interpretation of traffic laws, and sometimes you really did have to stare a car down (please don't hit me, please hit me) as you crossed the street. Ugh, this is what I do everyday, the rushing and pushing through crowded streets, this isn't vacation. 

But it was the little things that changed my heart. For example, the windows in our apartment. We stayed in a third floor flat, which is actually the 4th floor, about a block away from the north walls of Vatican City. The apartment had these big shutters on the windows. Each morning I would very dramatically open these shutters and in my outdoor voice say, "Good Morning Rome!" I loved leaning out the windows and watching the people at the cafes below, and the scooters drive by, and hear lovely, lovely Italian voices float up to my ears.  

Speaking of Italian, I do declare it to be one of the most beautiful spoken language on our little marble of a planet. So much passion, so much beauty and expression. Understanding languages usually comes pretty easily to me (knock on wood), but speaking foreign tongues is an entirely different story. For the life of me, I can't attempt, pretend, or fake an accent of any kind. Even if I know the right words, I still sound like a ridiculous American hick, which leads me to be quite self conscious. But the grazies, and ciaos and arrivedercis seemed to roll so easily over my tongue and  flow out my mouth. Every day, I fell in love with new words I heard and my family was forced to hear me practice my new vocabulary every night, over and over and over again. I also love how Italians are passionate about everything. Everything. I feel akin to this. There are a lot of things in my life that I feel I have to mute my passion for because I tend to come off as going overboard, but in Italy, overboard seems to be the norm, and that delightith my soul. 

On adventures I love seeing historical sites and museums and all the stuff listed in my travel books, but I think that thing that I love the most is drinking in another culture and being a observer of everyday life across the globe.  And sometimes when I am rushing too much to check things off an itinerary, I forget about all this; I forget about the people, the sounds, and tastes, that really make a place alive and beautiful. When I slowed my mind down a little bit, my heart stopped being so anxious, and I fell in love with Rome. 

Our first day in Rome we walked to the nearby Castel Sant' Angelo (Castle of the Holy Angel).  This huge fortress along the Tiber river was built in 135 AD as a mausoleum for the Emperor Hadrian. History has a way of recycling buildings so this castle has also been used as a military fort, prison, and home away from home for popes that needed some extra protection during turbulent times.
 I became fascinated with these trees along the walk up to the castle. They reminded me of Dr. Seuss tress; skinny bottoms, fluffy tops.

 Hadrian's ashes are no longer there thanks to looting Visigoths and the whole sacking of Rome thing in 410 AD. However, the building is still a fascinating structure. The main building is cylindrical in design; to get to the top you walk along passages going around and around and around. And when you get to the top, the view of Rome is guaranteed to take your breath away. We stayed up there for awhile and had a grand view of sunset. 

The big dome is St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican.

You might have noticed in the top couple pictures that there is an angel on top of the building. That obviously wasn't in Hadrian's original design. There is a legend that the Archangel Michael made an appearance above the structure in 590 AD signalling the end of a plague, and for that he gets prime real estate on top and the now familiar name of the structure. Amazing angelic sculptures adorn not only the castle but also the nearby bridge.

I have a friend that says the light in Europe is different, and holy cow, I do believe she is right. No matter what European city I visit, there is at least one day where the sun seems to set the place on fire what almost unearthly golden tones. 


  1. Yay for travel logs. :) I'm excited for each installment.

  2. Oh Katie, I've fallen in love all over again. Those trees, the light, your vivid all sounds like a beautiful dream.

    Living vicariously has never been so lovely!