As you may have guessed from my previous post, I love Rome. And I can happily say that today I rediscovered why! The streets, the people, that crazy mix of tradition and modernity. Rome seems to be grasping to its old traditions with strength while the modernity slowly seeps in through the cracks. You can see groups of locals chatting around a car straight out of 1950s while a young hipster with his headphones on walks right by them. I think I missed more photo opportunities today than ever but I was just in a state of catatonic happiness so I didn’t really care.
Some things have changed since the last time I was here. For example, the movie Gladiator had not come out and now one of the staples of all the tacky souvenir stall is a replica of Maximus’s helmet. Another thing that has changed for the better is the Underground. It is still a bit dirty but the trains are so much better than they used to be! Even the traffic felt less crazy than usual.
Another way in which my experience in Rome is different this time is due to a change in me. The last time I was in Rome, I was an agnostic which was searching for my path. This time I come back as a convinced atheist and I have felt that this has changed a few things. I have always felt a sense of awe when visiting a church, especially in Rome. I associate this city with many religious experiences and I found myself feeling almost obligated to be reverential when I was visiting a church. Old instincts would kick in and I would find myself thinking about the rituals that I used to go through in church. It was a strange feeling to be able to just say no and realise that these are learned habits. It was even weirder to not do them and realise that nothing bad would happen. Maybe I’m over thinking this but it felt very cathartic to be able to cross in front of the altar of a church and not kneel and do the sign of the cross. It felt liberating, as if a weight had been lifted.
As you can see I spent a lot of time wandering the streets of Rome, thinking to myself. It was a great morning of wandering around randomly, followed by a delicious lunch of pasta and saltimbocca. I then made my way to the Colosseo to meet Sara whom I had not seen in over 17 years! We met when I was in my last year at the Italian School in Madrid and I then went to visit her in her hometown of Teramo. We then lost contact with each other until she popped up in my Facebook last year.
Sara came to meet me with her boyfriend and her beautiful almost one year old baby daughter. We spent a few hours going back and forth the same streets of trastevere and then she invited me over to her aunt’s house for dinner. We had a great dinner of healthy food as Sara’s boyfriend does not unhealthy things. It was surprisingly good!
Sara’s cousin then dropped me off at the Metro station and I made my way back home. I spent the trip back trying to ignore the conversation of the girls next to me. They were a bunch of American girls that were discussing how they would never wear the same dress twice if they had appeared in a picture with it. Basically they bought 80 dollar dresses, wore them to a party, did some selfies, never wore them again. I bit my lip and refrained from giving them all a well deserved smack over the head.
I don’t think there will be a post tomorrow as I will be flying to Shanghai! Stay tuned for adventures from the far east!