Sean had the final day off. We were about to experience Rome for the day, together. After our usual breakfast of croissants, coffee, cereal in huge quantity (Sean) served by a sweet, smiling Italian lady at the hotel, we walked from our hotel to a vibrant, open air market place in Campo dei Fiori. Fruit and vegetable vendors lay their produce in an attractive array. The entire place looked lively and colorful with bright red tomatoes, shiny cherries, green leafy vegetables. Pasta sellers spread out their pastas in a colorful display. Trinket sellers had their earrings, necklaces, murano glass jewellery out attractively to lure customers to their stalls. And lure they certainly did, I couldn’t resist their charm, broke down and bought a charm bracelet. I wore it right away and looked at it admiringly from time to time as we walked towards the Basilica of St. Peter’s.
Sean is not the kind of guy to stand in line. For him, Rome is special for its ambiance – the narrow cobble-stoned alleys, the little quaint shops, the ancient feel of the city, the Jewish quarter, the mysterious stairways leading to gorgeous doors, ancient ruins dotted all over the city, the walks along river Tiber, the food and the romance in the air. He would rather walk indeterminately enjoying the sights and sounds of Rome than stand in line to enter the Colosseum, the Vatican or the Roman Forum (the line to get tickets to enter the forum can be pretty long). Since this was his only day off, I gave him the freedom to choose our destination. I was just happy to be with him! If he was writing the blog, however, he would strongly disagree to the ‘freedom to choose’ bit. I desperately wanted to see the Castel Sant’ Angel, so I couldn’t help interject such lines from time to time ‘You know, we should see the inside of Castel Sant’ Angel sometime, I haven’t been inside the castle yet!’ But then quickly qualified the statement with ‘I am not telling you what to do, it was just a suggestion!’
After a while, Sean played along with “So, what should I plan to do again? Should I plan to go see the inside of Castel Sant’ Angel?” You guessed it, we ended up in the Castle of Angels!
This was built on Tiber river by King Hadrian and then converted into a military fortress. It is named after the archangel Michael at the entrance to the museum.
In the evening, we decided to truly get lost in the interconnected narrow, mysterious, ancient looking alleyways of beautiful Rome. We walked the streets aimlessly, without a clue or purpose. We saw some treasures hidden in these little lanes, some unknown yet ornately decorated churches, back of a beaten up dilapidated house made beautiful by fragrant, bright flowers, old arch bridges, moss-covered steps leading to gorgeous doorways, little cafes and gelatarios.
At the cost of never getting an advertisement offer from McDonald’s for my blog site, I must admit that I shuddered at the sight of these golden arches in Rome. For me it was akin to blasphemy, the presence of the fast food chain in the land of leisurely dining and delicious cuisine. But soon, due to the dearth of public restrooms in Rome, my feeling changed from horror to reassurance at sighting of McDonald’s. It did wonders for my peace of mind. Enough of bathroom talk, moving on.
We bought some gifts at a souvenir shop for my parents and the children who were becoming very real to me with every passing minute. I was missing them. I was ready to go home. We went back to Trastevere area for a dinner of spaghetti alla amatriciana (spaghetti with bacon and tomato sauce) and ended the evening with canoli with chocolate chips. Our last gelato for a while.
I want to mention that I probably ate bacon almost every day during my stay in Rome, either in my pizza or my pasta. I don’t eat much bacon back home. The health freak in me makes me buy the leanest bacon possible. I find it tasteless. The bacon, in Rome, was the real deal with fat dripping off them on my shirt and probably clogging my artery as I write this journal! But I didn’t care. That was the joy of being on vacation. I knew this was short-term, I could afford to be indulgent, I could afford to eat fatty bacon, I could afford to eat dessert every day (one day even twice). That feeling made this Roman Holiday memorable, dream like.
Last night, I went to bed truly content. Amidst all the happy moments I have had in my life, my time in Rome just got included in the list. I had a happy time, carefree, stress free, free from the shackles of schedule. But I was ready to go back and take charge again. On the flight back home, between watching four movies back to back, I pondered a little bit about the ‘connected’ life I led. I honestly felt, I need to disconnect a bit to connect more with the people who matter to me the most. Between the schedules and running around, focusing on one particular thing was becoming rarer for me. While I read with Ryan, my mind was already planning where I had to be the next day and when. While listening to Sahana’s middle school woes, part of my focus was on the half filled milk jar and whether that would last till breakfast. Whatever little time I had in between, I spent it on the net chatting with friends so my mind didn’t wander on the mundane chores. The net, for the lack of better words, had become my escape from my busy, schedule filled life. I wanted to change that.
My Roman Holiday ended. But the feel of it stayed with me. I wrote these blogs so when the memory starts to fade and I need some sustenance and a breath of fresh air, I can come back to these and relive the days. Thank you all for reading and being a part of my holiday. Signing off!