I started my trip to Rome, where I had left it a long decade ago. I traversed the Borghese park, once a distant elevated park, now a collection of pine trees; so far apart, as not to compose a forest but more like a gathering of green clouds. The poetry of trees. In Italian verse of course.
I visited the Vatican, once an off the track destination for cliche seeking Michael Angelo sightings, now my grown son's aced art history project. From emotions gathered, he dried his tears in the awesome Sistine Chapel. As for me, it was the St Peter's Basilica that left my lips trembling.
It takes coming back to a city after a very long time to realize how much time and how many accomplishments have occurred in that time span. Last time, I was pushing my eldest in the stroller and when the bumpy old roman roads didn't accommodate the stroller, I carried him on my shoulders. Today, I have three children to run after, on foot, while they ride their micro scooters.
Who said Rome is too hot in summer? The climate didn't intimidate me as much as its pedestrian aspect, thus adding wheels to my kids experience. We drank 10 liters of water in 3 days and literally ducked our heads in public fountains. Seeking the shade was a pleasurable activity.
We covered all the cliches, striding on the Corso and Via Veneto all the way to the Coliseum. All the while pretending I am not a tourist, fleeing tourist holes and tourist prices. Wanting to wander and wonder. You never truly get lost in the labyrinth, because at every corner is a fountain, an architectural masterpiece, a gelateria. You walk into the most basic high street store like Aldo and you find the whole range of shoes, the most fashionable models. Bewildered by the city, I forget to have my third coffee, distracted as I am by the strong sun, seeking the respite of shade and the evening temperatures.
As we climbed the Spanish steps, or down the Borghese ramp to Piazza Popolo I asked my kids why the stairs were uneven. They soon understood that it was the sheer number of visitors that altered the marble, one step at a time. "So that when you come back, and you are in college, and then again with your kids..." Rome is yours because you are sure to be drawn to it, again and again.
Derived pleasure from this trip is the open door to history and culture: the children are now made aware of Roman history, Biblical stories, the development of art and the beauty of Italy.