Friday, July 07, 2006

Missing Rome, Two Months Later

Maybe it's because my life is so full of work work work right now that I miss Rome so much. Rome was the last stop on our Europe trip back in April. The only city I didn't blog about until now. But the city I think I enjoyed the most. Although I wouldn't live there--Paris would be my first choice, London a distant second, and Roma an even more distant third--I did love Rome.

The pale terra cotta-hued buildings, ancient and not-so-ancient, that seemed to absorb and transform afternoon sunlight into ethereal gold. The sounds of lilting, dipping, singsong Italiano. Stumbling upon the crumbling ruins of the Portico d'Ottavia while on quest to find a discount shoe store, of all things (see the picture above). So much history in one place, I felt I was breathing it in, walking in the footsteps of countless ancients. The warmth in the air on our first day there, so different than the chill winds in London and Paris.

And, of course, the food, so delicious and simply prepared. Quite rustic. A morning cappucino in a white porcelain cup almost the size of a thimble, but so rich and sweet you didn't want or need more. Pastries laced with a cinnamon-like flavor that was distinctly Italian. Pasta everyday, two meals a day. The best prosciutto I've ever eaten, savory but not too salty, never chewy; nothing like it here. Gelato everyday. That was heaven. And of course, everything washed down with mineral water or wine.

I think the reason I miss Rome is that I desperately wish I was on vacation right now. Things with work and the conference are spinning madly, and although I'm learning a lot and generally enjoy both jobs, there are days that I wish I could stop the spinning, just for a little while, and be back in Vatican City eating the best pizza in the world--thin-crusted Roman style square pizza, with a million toppings to choose from; I had broccoli, onion and tomato, and only $3!--then walking through a street market towards St. Peter's, then later topping off the afternoon by eating a wickedly rich and creamy chocolate gelato while sitting at a sidewalk table on some picturesque via.

And although my pictures from the trip (like the ones below--one of me in front of Bernini's famous 'Four Rivers' fountain in the Piazza Navona, the other of the Arch of Septimius Severus) give me some pleasure and comfort, I do wish I could eat a scrumptious, olive-oil drenched carciofo at a restaurant in the Campo de'Fiori right now.

Of course, Rome had its downsides: pretty racist overall, I have to say. H. got followed around in nearly every store we went into, and all the Black and Asian folks (South Asian and African immigrants) that lived there were either selling stuff in the street or working in the back of the restaurant. Never even got served by a waiter who wasn't 'white' Italian (I say 'white' in quotes because Italians are the darkest Europeans I've ever seen; Africa's not far away, after all). Got dissed by an Italian woman working the counter at McDonald's--yes, McDonald's--because I was a 'Cinese' (Chinese/Asian) who didn't speak Italian well. I wanted to yell, 'I'm a fucking American, you idiot!' The only reason she pissed me off so much was because a few days before I'd seen some frat-white-boy American types butcher italian just as much as I did at the same McDonald's, but the cashier just gazed up at them like they were younger clones of Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt. As much as I loved Rome, I was glad to leave after that experience.

But a vacation's a vacation, and our vacation in Rome was, overall, quite pleasant and memorable. And that's what I'll have to make do with right now--my memories--until I can make a proper getaway post-August 5th.

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