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Locked down but not out in Italy

Singing from the balconies! One nice thing about this crisis ... solidarity! “Guess you’re not living like a tourist anymore,” was the funny, truthful and somewhat gut-wrenching message of a friend the day the lockdown in Italy began. Today is day 6. My beloved Italia has been hit hard with the COVID19 epidemic. With the second largest elderly population in the world, the epidemic has meant a disproportionate amount of deaths in the country. So though I haven’t been worried about contracting it myself, this isn’t about me or someone like me who, if contracted it would probably have a sucky couple of weeks and then recover. It is about if someone like me contracted it and then spread it to a person with a complicated health history or an elderly person with a weakened immune system. Eerily orderly: Lines for the grocery store, each person one meter apart In a country with no concept (and no physical room really) for personal space, and in a city with reproachable hygie

A Reunion

I have a love-hate relationship with Ryan Air, but I will sheepishly admit that they tend to lure me in with their suspiciously low rates. This was the clincher in my decision to stop by Rome as an off-shoot from my trip to Ireland.

Because I wrote about dog pee, pushy ladies, and the general chaos of Rome in my last entry, today I shall sing its praises.

I am the quintessential perpetual tourist in this city. I never get sick of doing the same, touristy things over and over in Rome. Every time I go, I take pictures of the monuments, fully aware that they haven’t changed. I make a pilgrimage to the Vatican and a perfunctory nod at the coliseum. I stroll through Piazza Navona and wander the streets of Trastevere. I adore the Pantheon and will make a special effort to walk by it, no matter to what part of the city I am traveling.

Part of my awe comes from the colors of Rome. It always seems to me that Rome was made to pay homage to the sun. The colors and textures of the buildings soak in the sunshine and radiate it back out to the populace. Sunlight seems to be the exterior layer of the buildings themselves.

Rome wilts on its rainy days, almost uncomfortable and confused by being wet. On these days, you walk through its streets and there is something tangibly missing from the scenery. It is the sunlight. The usual warmth and body of the city falls away leaving Rome strangely flat and lifeless in the rain.

At night, Rome is even more enchanting. Knowing the building’s propensity, even longing, for sunshine, yellow lights take on the sun’s role during the evening. Just like with the sunshine, buildings seem to awaken and reflect this light back to its visitors making the city glow. Its bridges, domes, and fountains all splash back the golden yellow hue. Even the moon has to compete for attention against the beauty of a Roman evening.

Aside from the historical grandeur or religious significance, Rome’s little pleasures almost delight me more.

A caffe latte and una coppetta di ciocolatto fondente (gelato) is enough to make any trip to Rome worth it. With every bite I try to soak in Rome and to refine the taste of each one of these wonders so that the memory stays with me longer. Pizza Bianca, mozzarella di buffalo con basilico fresco, spremuta di arancia rossa (blood oranges), una pizza con funghi porcini… it ruins you for anything else you could eat in your lifetime. And this comes from someone who is not especially interested in food. Anyone can tell you, I am not generally a foodie or food enthusiast. Except, it appears, in Italy.

For the blog’s sake, I’d like to tell of the crazy adventures I had during my week there, but it wasn’t adventure I was seeking this time. This trip to Rome was like reuniting with a past love; it was just nice to be in its presence again, even if you know it’s not going to last.