It's my last night in Rome. Today we visited my cousin, Angela's home in Tivoli, an old, charming city on a mountain in Lazio dating back to the Roman Empire. We ate, talked, laughed ... and laughed some more. Then we went into the heart of Vitoli for ice cream and a walk through the area, which contained the castle of Rocco Pia, built back in 1461. We walked through the main square of the town to a part that overlooks all of Roman suburbia and other cities. It was breathtaking.
On our way back to Velletri, the waning moon hung heavy in the sky surrounded by a frothy amber glow. I couldn't help but smile as I gazed at it through the back seat window of my cousin, Ionu's car. I thought back on the week, recalling my favorite moments. As far as sight seeing goes, I enjoyed visiting the Vatican and Sistine Chapel, stepping into another time period where every wall, tapestry, piece of architecture was soaked in history. My favorite piece of trivia: After Michelangelo completed the Sistine Chapel ceiling, all of the figures were completely naked, which, while the Pope was aware of this and expected it having known Michelangelo's prior work, many other members of the Vatican were not too pleased and considered it too risque. But it was a commoner who voiced the most disgust to Michelangelo -- who was in his mid-60s mind you and well into his prime and success -- telling him he should cover up the revealing parts of every figure. So, Michelangelo told him he would go in and change the ceiling. When the man went to see what he altered, he found a naked image of himself, located at the bottom right-hand corner of the right wall, with a snake wrapped around his body and its mouth around ... well, you can guess.
Suffice it to say, Michelangelo had quite the sense of humor. And of course, that was the first place my brother and I looked when we walked into the Chapel.
We also passed through the Piazza Trinità dei Monti and the Fontana di Trevi, one of the most famous fountains in the world. Weaving through the waves of people who were glued to every inch of the area, I turned around, made three wishes with three coins and threw each of them over my shoulder. One never knows, after all ...
Then, we visited the Colosseum. And this time, unlike last time I was here, we went inside. As I made my way around the interior, stopping every few feet to look at the maze-like floor in the center and the worn stones and mounted artifacts, I could just imagine the violent amusement that filled those walls for so many years. I wondered where the emperor would sit to watch. I could almost hear the screams, the wheels of chariots, the clash of metal. That night, after our dinner at a restaurant in Velletri where I found a local wine I fell in love with, we came back to Rome. But this time, it was just the "younger group" of us, including my brother and cousins, Rosmina, Andreia and Ionu, all around our age. Ionu took us to a local pub in Rome he is an admitted loyal regular to. The bartender spoke English and was also a former broadcast Journalist in Italy, so, over a good Indian Pale Ale, we exchanged a few thoughts on the industry in general. Then Ionu took us to the Colesseum at night, its walls lit up by warm, yellow lights, playing off the shadows and creases of its antiquated walls. I was lost to the vision.
However, possibly one of my favorite random moments of the trip was on our way back from our night out on the town in Rome. Ionu started heading into an industrial looking area. If he'd only looked in his rear view mirror, he'd have seen my perplexed face as I tried to figure out where he was taking us.Then suddenly, we pulled into this randomly placed pastry shop and factory. However, the humorous part of this all is, it not only looked like a dance club from the outside, but it also had techno rave music blasting out of its doors. Oh, and it's 3:30 a.m. at this point. So, where do the young people in Rome apparently go after the pubs? An all-night rave techno pastry shop ... where they rebelliously eat cannolies.
I can feel the traces of a smile dancing on my cheeks as I write all this, but as I wind down this entry, the melancholy has also begun to sink in. Tomorrow, I make the journey to Frankfurt for our connecting flight, where my brother and I part with my parents as they continue on to Romania. While I'll be glad to be back home in many ways ... I am sad to leave my family and the reprieve they've given me. I know I'll be back and that some of them will hopefully visit me as well, but the best gift I hope to give myself is holding on to all I've gained -- this sense of rediscovery and home -- and packing it inside me to bring back to America.
In that way, nothing is truly left behind. And when I search for home again, I'll need only look inside.
~ C ~