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La Dolce Vita

June 9, 2013

I love Rome. Like, ridiculously love it. Way more than I’d expected to. Paris never really did it for me. Its beautiful of course, and I wouldn’t turn down a visit, but that Paris reverence? I don’t have that. Maybe because everyone else does (I’m not so into Brad Pitt either). There are cities I love, of course, London, New Orleans, Barcelona, and, after this week, I’ve grown really fond of Prague, but nothing really says spiritual home to me the way New York does. And Rome doesn’t necessarily….yet,  but, man, I love it.

I love the narrow streets and ruins that are just there are you pass along; I love the attitudes of the people; I love that the whole city is a bit shabby; and of course there’s the food. The food is, as you know even if you’ve not been here, completely fab. It’s so good that I’ve taken photos of it which is very un-me (seriously, don’t take photos of your food. You just look like a douche bag). Everything about Rome is fantastic.

And romantic. What a city to be in love. All day I’ve been thinking about the men I’ve loved and what it would be like to be here with them – what I’d do with one or another (museums with this one, just a lot of eating with that one). They’d all find something to love. I’ve also been a bit bitter about the ones, even the ones I’ve long since stopped loving, who have been here without me, or worse, with someone else. I’m bitter about everyone at any time who came to Rome without me. How did it take me so long to get here?

Day one has been a whirlwind. I started out in Trastevere, the Brooklyn of Rome (even the guidebooks say, “its worth crossing the river for this hip neighborhood”). I took the bus, which was very easy and an exciting first look at Rome. There is a Sunday flea market that I wanted to see, which is like every other flea market in the world, but it got me over there. Leaving the market I explored the small streets in search of a pizza place that had been recommended with a vague description of marble slabs. I, of course, hadn’t looked it up before I left the hotel, assuming I’d find a cafe with wifi along the way. No such luck and after looking a bit like a bumbling American with the locals I asked for ideas, I actually found someone who knew what I was talking about. He led me to a pizzeria nicknamed “the mortuary” because of the marble slab tables and told me it was considered one of the best pizzas in Rome. And it was closed.

I will probably head back there for dinner tomorrow (everyone knows you always go to Brooklyn for the best food), but by that point I was hungry. And pissy. I really planned on this place for lunch and the rows of options were daunting me. I obstinately decided to walk til I found something else that would meet the bar of the marble slab place. Of course, I was alone, so the only one really punished by that was me. I finally found a random cafe, had a great sandwich and planned my day. Retracing my steps I walked along the river, risked my hand at the Mouth of Truth before heading up to Circus Maximus and the Palatino and Roman Forum. And then, there it was, the Colosseum. Just right there. Somehow I thought I’d have to get on a bus to get to it, but it was there in the middle of town. I wandered the outside for a while and then headed in. I scoped out which line I was meant to be and joined it. By the time I figured out that I’d cut the line by about an hour’s wait, I was buying my ticket. Ooops.

I’m a drive by sight-seer so I expected a quick in and out at the Colosseum, but I stayed for a long time. I loved it there. I sat on a marble slab (theme for the day) and watched people for a while; I went up and down levels; I even bought a t-shirt. I really did. Finally I left and walked the streets for a while longer until I popped into another cafe for coffee than beer and a caprese salad.

From there, the Pantheon and Piazza Navona, a square filled with artists selling their wares. Colleagues in Prague insisted I try the tartufo at Tre Scalini in the square. It is a dark truffle ice cream which was way too sweet for me, but try it I did. It was 5 euro to eat at the counter and 10 euro if I wanted to sit at a table square-side. Guess which one I chose.

On to my only disappointment for the day, and weirdly the thing I’d been most looking forward to – Trevi Fountain. It was jammed with tourists. I could barely get to it to throw in a coin, but I made it, ensuring my return to Rome. Moving on quickly I wandered the narrow streets towards the Spanish Steps. I arrived late in the afternoon at the top of the steps. The dome of St. Peter’s was nearly blocked by the bright, low sun and I decided immediately that I was going to watch the sunset over Rome from this spot. Since I had a little time, I walked down the steps, to the piazza below, looked in the stores and then headed back up the 135 steps (nothing, I tell you, compared to the 5000 in Nepal, but still no picnic).  There is a cafe at the top where I got a pizza and wine and waited for the sun show.

It did not disappoint. Nor did the meal. After dinner, I walked back to my hotel. I logged about 12 hours of walking (say 10 if you count dining time), and about as many miles. And every step was worth it.

I love Rome.

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  1. Charlie Wade permalink

    Kathleen – What a lovely and yet slightly trying day in Rome. It sounded so complete and fulfilling even without the pizza place. We wander the same way with mostly vague ideas of where to go. Your day reminds me of my day in Milan a week ago in which I wandered the streets stumbling upon a military ceremony complete with marching band, a gelato festival (complete with a gelato cocktail), a beautiful sculpture garden that doubles as an enchanting cemetery, La Scalla couldn’t go in, boys playing rugby in an ancient coliseum and so on…my feet were cramping by the end of the day. Still despite the dim view that those in Rome and elsewhere in the south of Italy have for Milan, I was taken in. Renzo Piano lives in Milan instead of Rome he says because it’s still messy and incomplete.

    • Aw – thanks Charlie. We were so close to being in the same place at the same time! Alas. I love the idea of your day in Milan too. Hope to see you very soon!

      • Charlie Wade permalink

        So close…will be in NYC this week and then again towards the end of June. Let’s try to catch up…

  2. Deborah permalink

    I adore Rome…wonderfulmemories…and I adore your writing, too! xoxox

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