Today was our last day in Rome. It has been a glorious seven days of walking (miles and miles of walking), museums, churches, cobbled streets and pasta (industrial quantities of pasta).
There have been many highlights. For example, the exhibition of Roman paintings where Leo and Bea spent hours copying the ancient images into little notebooks Piera bought them followed by dinner with Bea alone in our apartment one evening when Olivia was with my mother and Leo slept. I have rarely seen her so happy and animated. We ate cheese and bread and she ate sweetcorn and peas. It was most definitely our cheapest meal here but one of the nicest.
Bea’s first sighting of a prostitute (they skulk in the woods close to my mother’s house which makes it sound like a dodgy place but actually it’s not, it is a quite heavenly spot in the Umbrian countryside) was also one of the more memorable moments. When we explained to her what a prostitute does she said: “How silly, why don’t they just sell hats instead?”
Every day we have seen or experienced something special. Around every corner is something beautiful like a plant lit up or a fountain in a courtyard. Walking home just now we saw a tram covered in small light bulbs making its way up the hill lighting up the sky like a vast Christmas tree on rails. Rome is full of the most wonderful colours, sights, smells and hidden treasures. Even the air smells sweet.
We have visited at least one museum a day and I have loved it. For the first time ever I have really enjoyed wandering around looking at paintings. Maybe a year away has made me appreciate art and culture a little more.
Today we saw Benedetto, my father, who celebrated his 85th birthday two days ago. He gave me some good advice: Nulla dies sine linea. Happily he also told me what it means: Not a day without writing.
“Write anything, but write, even two lines” he said. “At the time you will think it is nothing but at the end of the year you will have a masterpiece.”
I realised that with my blog I more or less follow his advice although possibly not daily. I’m not sure about the masterpiece theory but I get the general idea.
As for the lowlights, well the worst thing will be leaving Rome and my family when we all head off for Florence tomorrow. Happily though my father is heading up that way too so we may see him again.
Another lowlight has been the Internet at the otherwise lovely Hotel Lord Byron where we moved after our little apartment (described in detail by Bea below). It is run by some crap company called Smartnet (should be called dimnet) and never works despite costing 20 euros for an hour. So if this blog is posted a few days late, blame them. When I am ruler of the world no hotel will be allowed to call itself five-star without having free functioning wireless.
And then finally to the loo seats, or rather the lack of them. Where are all the loo seats in Rome? Is there some huge black-market for second-hand loo seats I wonder? Is this how Romans supplement their income? And just how does one steal a loo seat without being caught? It is a mystery. In my view they should all be selling hats instead, much more profitable, and less menacing for us all.
Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2009