Monday, December 24, 2007

'Bonjourno Roma!'

As I gaze out over the ruins of the ‘Eternal City’ I feel myself gasping. For a while I don’t move. Then I take out my camera.

I have seen so many pictures of the Coliseum but I was not prepared for this amount of ruins. And I certainly didn’t think that bricks and stones could move me this much.

While the sky is a clear blue, the light that is hanging over the ruins is slightly misty. The winter sun casts a glow over everything and I get the sense that I have to tread softly. The tourists around me speak in whispers. They feel it too.

My imagination runs wild. I am the dying Julius Caeser, the princess on the steps of the palace, the lion underneath the floor of the Coliseum.

Then and now is all one. Did we learn anything at all during the thousands of years in between? We still feed people to lions and fight just as many wars. Yet, being here makes it very clear that we have lost something. Even in the ruins there is passion and beauty and soul. These days we dilute our souls, cast our beauty in plastic and trade our passion for money

As a fellow traveler and I sit down at the end of the day to do as the Romans do – indulge in gastronomic pleasures – we realize that we don’t even know each others’ names. We spent the whole day walking without talking. There has been no space for words between the Coliseum, the Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps.

After dinner Rachel and I walk underneath the Christmas lights, past huge Armani and Prada stores where Italians and tourists alike line up for Christmas shopping. Pity our budgets don't allow for that.

On the way back to our hotel I cannot shake the smile from my face. I can still taste the Limoncello as I go through the pictures on my camera. At first sight I am utterly smitten with Rome.

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