Hello from Rome!
I doubt that we will have Internet very much throughout our stay, so I wanted to take advantage of the little time I had to share some of the highlights of our first couple days in this amazing country.
First, let me tell you that from the moment we got on our bus to our hotel, I was in love. The country side, the accents, the small cars and cobblestone streets all captured my attention and confirmed the expectation that I have had for so many years- Italy will be wonderful. We arrived at our hotel at around 9AM Italy time (which is about 3AM EST), took about a 2 hour nap and then got ready to go to St. Peter's - Basillica. We stopped for some lunch where I had my first Italian pizza, covered in "Rocket" which is what they call arugula, balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Delightful!
Then we made our way to the Basillica. Mom was the only one of the four of us smart enough to bring an umbrella, so a street vendor became a fast friend when it began to down pour. Determined travelers that we were, we stood in line for about 30 minutes, during which time Dad purchased 4 sweatshirts. If we weren't tourists then, we were now. All three girls donned various colours of "I <3 Roma". I chuckckled at how obvious we were. Regardless, I soon abandoned those thoughts to the next few hours consumed with photography. I waand am unbelievably grateful for my new camera. The pictures (they'll be posted at a later time) of St. Peter's and the artistry are pretty amazing. As we were walking through, though, I couldn't help but wonder what the Apostles would say to such ornate memorials of their service to God. We decided to meet at the entrance and as I made my way toward my mom and sister, I glanced to my right to see nothing else but a red pair of TOMS shoes. This was too funny. So, of course, like any good employee, I went over to the girl from Korea and asked if I could grab a couple photos. She asked me when TOMS will start selling in Roma. :) Our day ended with a walk through the city back to our hotel- a chanec for me to absorb a bit of what it is like to live here- and then dinner at a place about 3 feet from our hotel. Joe and Lisa will be glad to hear that along with the homemade pasta and local wine, I introduced my parents to lemoncello-a liquer used to cleanse the palate before dessert. Mom and Dad got the orange version which tasted a bit like cough medicine...ok it was awful. Haha. After dinner, we went up to the roof garden of the hotel but for a few moments because we were greeted with a very protective mama bird who was guarding her egg. Day Two
I slept fairly well for the first night-considering we had two naps the day before. We woke up early to meet Carla, our tour guide while in Rome. How do I describe Carla...she is a bubbly, edgy and very Italian Roman who loves her city. She's about 5 foot 2 with bleached blonde hair- about 60 years old. Juan Carlos was our driver today around what Carla called the heart of Rome. We walked around the ancient ruins that included the Colloseum, the Pantheon, and several other buildings that were said to be the foundation of Rome-dating back to centuries before Jesus Christ. The city of Rome is built in layers- an image that is a tool for any writer to indulge in symbolism. And as I was walking around today, I couldn't help but imagine the people of ancient Rome- the conversations, the debates, the markets, the stories that defined each person...and then wonder who would be standing in my place 2000 years from now marveling in a similar fashion.
I'm sure I'm not the only one, but I have a bit of a different perspective while walking around this city. I am fascinated by the stories and context of the every day Roman. The one who has to get up early each morning to go to work at a local restaurant, the men who sip on espresso every day at around 4PM, the teenagers with multi-colored hair and piercings who hate school, but love life. This land is oozing with story. I'm fully aware that the economic environment here is less than stable. I see that religion is very much a visible/external part of life and I wonder what it is like to have literally millions of people here each day that are not of your culture. I see evidence of globalization- sushi restaurants, McDonalds, and Nike-and I see a real commitment on behalf of the people to their local story. Fascinating. And this is just day two.
Today is Abigail's birthday and it has been truly enjoyable watching her return to this city a third time. She loves European culture in general and is somewhat more at home here than in the states. Makes me wonder if I'lll ever be visiting her in this area.
We are here for two more days, then we are moving on to Florence and Assissi. I'll do my best to share what I can as we go. For now, I bid you good day! Ciao!