I was looking through my photo files ... there are 1000s of images that never see the light of day. And I found one of my Rome shots which inspired me to go wandering through old blogs I had written about Rome. I found this which is good because I have been missing Rome today.
I remember when I fell madly and passionately in love with Rome. I had gone there expecting to be disappointed by a myth fallen on hard times but found something else ...
Rome was a city that was more than I imagined a city could be. It was a mix of ancient and beautiful, of sophistication and of real people who wanted to chat.
I stayed on Campo de' Fiori in a hotel with the same name. The entrance was stunning, it was like stepping into a story. There was a daily market there in the square,where I could buy flowers and food. There was a superb little bookshop where I found a good book and, on another corner, a delicatessen with wine and cheese for my evening because ... I was in Rome and one must have some chianti and cheese while reading that new book.
It was a city of angels. Bernini and his students had sculpted a series of them on Ponte Sant'Angelo in the 17th century. There was the arrogant angel by Raffaello da Montelupo. I loved his 1544 rendering of the Archangel Michael, and Peter Anton Verschaffelt's rooftop Michael, sculpted 1752, too.
Angels and archways perhaps. I felt so comfortable with the architecture there. I spent hours in Castel Sant'Angelo, fascinated by the history and feeling of that ancient place . It was originally built as a mausoleum for Hadrian, as in Hadrian's Tomb, but was converted into a fortress for popes in the 6th century. It was magical wandering along old passages, or just sitting in the sun trying to comprehend that that really was Rome's River Tiber below me.
I had lunch with Paolo, a friend of a friend, and we wandered the city for a while. He told me his stories of the city he loved. An old friend took me home to his family for dinner on the back of his scooter, and his wife cooked a beautiful Roman feast, introducing me to mozzarella di bufala and prosciutto, followed by veal, artichokes and chard ... and then there was a midnight tour of Rome on the way back to the hotel.
I bought a painting from another Paolo, in Piazza Navone ... the place where the artists gather. He took me off to a cafe for coffee and we talked for a long time. He had been a history teacher until his art had become self-supporting. We talked of movies, books, writers, societies, children and life ... it was magical too. His painting, the painting I bought, was a titled 'Diving into Life' ... it seemed like something I had to have.
I loved Piazza San Pietro in Vatican City and bought the ticket that allowed me to climb the 300+ steps to the cupola on top of the Basilica. You reach the top and voila, there is Rome, far below in all of her beauty.
Inside the Basilica ... the sculptures were outside of my ability to describe them. I stared for a long time, perhaps hoping to comprehend the beauty via some kind of osmosis. Michelangelo's Pieta was stunning but Bernini's monument to Alexander VII was almost overwhelming ... somehow, Bernini had made heavy red marble seem like soft velvet.
I loved it all ... the Pantheon took my breath when I turned a corner and found it unexpectedly there in front of me. The Trevi Fountain, even the Spanish Steps at midnight, all but abandoned.
I have to go back, and soon, there is no other solution.