We are in Rome, which I have decided is my favourite city. “Rome wasn’t built in a day,” Rupert told the children as we landed. “It took two days.”
“That long?” said Leo. He’s obviously got too used to Abu Dhabi.
The day before yesterday the unimaginable happened. My aunt, who has not spoken to me since Ciao Bella came out, asked to meet us at Piazza di Spagna at midday. When I spoke to her it was like nothing had happened. Like she had never been upset by the memoir and we had been in constant touch over the past four years and not totally silent with any necessary messages passing through my long-suffering mother.
I slept badly the night before we met. I was nervous. I planned all our outfits (well maybe not Rupert’s). The morning of the meeting we spent in Trastevere discovering some hidden museums with real gems like frescoes by Raphael. Then we went to the botanical gardens. As we were leaving Leo spotted a fountain. “Take a picture of me,” he demanded. I did as he asked and watched in horror as he fell in.
So now we had half an hour to get him a new outfit (including new shoes) and get to Piazza di Spanga for the important reunion.
We raced to find a taxi and asked to be dropped off on Via del Corso where there is a Zara. Fifty euros later we were rushing towards the piazza when I suddenly remembered I was wearing trainers.
My aunt would probably not speak to me for another four years if she saw me wearing trainers away from a tennis court. Happily Rome is stuffed full of shoe shops. It took me about three minutes from spotting a fetching pair of suede boots in a window to running onwards to our meeting wearing them.
I got to Piazza di Spagna at 12.10, 10 minutes late. You can always rely on my aunt to be even later, so thankfully she was none the wiser.
I am happy to report that it all went even better than I expected. Maybe there is a lecture she is storing up for me but so far all I have had is praise for the wonderful children and affection. My uncle Bertrand is as lovely as he always was and the children are mad about them both. We had the most glorious time going to an exhibition of Roman paintings and today she took the children to the Roman Forum.
It is lovely to be back and I think I finally know where we will move to once our Arabian adventure is over. But I will keep Leo away from the fountains.
Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2009