When you get to see history come alive, it’s an unbelievable feeling. I remember many parts of my childhood and adolescent years where an encyclopedia was my gateway to wanderlust. Facts and figures, pictures and maps and of course, the narrative. I always said to myself after every read that I want to see this in reality.
You grow up and you always continue to talk about these dreams of travel and to tread the roads where great men and women once walked and ruled and eventually, some of those dreams do come true.
There is no one country that I can pinpoint and say that 'this is my heart’s desire'. Hence, the trip to Italy wasn’t born out of an endless longing or a dream. There wasn't even months of planning and discussion involved. It just happened.
In any place that you visit, there are the famous sites, the 'local secrets' as well as things/places you will discover only when you decide to get lost and immerse yourself in the place. I root for all three but time is always the issue. So it’s always a decision of which sites to see and what you can do AND not feel like you're in The Amazing Race. I read sites and blogs about people that have decided to ditch visiting the famous sites because that’s such a tourist thing to do and is such an old school way to plan a travel. They also take two suitcases and plan non-tourist looking outfits for everyday because why not? Now don’t get me wrong. I do wish I was capable of THAT kind of travel. But some of us aren’t that fortunate. And I would always opt for the old school travel plan especially if I am visiting a place for the first time.
I always knew that ‘my Italy’ would consist of all the places and sights I had long dreamt about thanks to those encyclopedia’s, watching discovery kids and in time, some really good books and movies.
So it was with Rome, the Eternal City.
There will be a recurring theme I will keep harping on through my Italian tales: the people. And to begin with, Rome set the tone.
You will not feel out of place in Rome because the Romans, the Italians... I'm not sure if there are better people than the Italians. They are so accommodating, so friendly, so helpful and always so cheery. Some may not speak english and you may not speak a word of Italian but that was the magic: you understood each other perfectly. Curiously, they really do speak the way we imagine them to, hand gestures and all.
By the end of the trip, I came to a conclusion about the relevancy of Rome as the Eternal City. No doubt history plays an important role. The other reason though? Their seemingly never-ending supply of water. You will never go thirsty when you're in Rome because of the number of water fountains spread across the city, ever ready to aid the weary, wandering traveller.
The time I spent in Rome was enough to cover the places I wanted to see most as well as saunter around without a purpose and meaning.
I didn't toss a coin into the Trevi Fountain but I hope I'll be back there someday.
For now though, this was my brief romance with Rome.