Monday, September 3, 2007

17 June: Arrivederci, Bella Roma!

We rolled out of bed around 8:15, had breakfast, and went out to get some cash at the ATM to pay our hotel bill. I wanted to take a final look at the art vendors in Piazza Navona but didn’t see anything that called to me. Paolo was there again so we went over to say hi; Mom got his card because she wanted to remember his name. We went back to the hotel to check out and had a nice chat with one of the men who works at the front desk. We suggested that our room could use a mirror over the dressing table; this would have made it easier for us both to get ready to go out. We also mentioned that Mom could have used some help with her suitcase when we arrived. We were very friendly and polite about both issues and the man was really nice about it, apologizing for the suitcase oversight and telling us that he would pass the mirror suggestion on to the owners. I told him that I would give them a glowing review on Trip Advisor.

We left our luggage at the hotel and decided to spend our morning back at the bookstore near Largo di Torre Argentina, looking for books about Roman history, but finally decided to do some more research before buying anything. Mom bought a couple of books for the flight home, including one about expats living in Rome.

We walked over to Giolitti, which Elizabeth had told us was the best gelateria in Rome, and splurged on four flavors each. (Actually we bought medium-sized cups only to discover that they were pathetically small; we went back to the cashier and upgraded to the large size!) Mom had green melon, pink grapefruit, raspberry, and lemon and I had pink grapefruit, cantaloupe, peach, and limoncello. It was refreshing and delicious; pink grapefruit wins the prize!

I bought my requisite tacky Rome magnet near the Pantheon. For the last time, we passed the huge, bowl-shaped fountain that had been our guiding landmark every night on our way back to our hotel. We retrieved our luggage from the reception and rearranged our things while waiting for our driver to arrive. He came promptly at 2 p.m. and drove us to the airport in style in a silver Mercedes E-Class. We took a different route out of the city than before, passing right in front of St. Peter’s. We grabbed a quick snack at the airport and bought some pasta, porcini, salami, and parmesan as a treat for John before boarding our flight home to Stuttgart.

I feel so incredibly lucky to have seen Rome twice in one year. My previous two visits have been in December, so I was thrilled to see Rome in the summertime as I have often imagined it: warm-hued stucco baking in the hot sun under brilliant blue skies, ancient stone walls overflowing with brilliant fuschia bouganvilla vines, grand piazzas crammed with artists and performers, long warm nights spent basking in the golden glow of dancing fountains…it was everything I had imagined, and more. I am not a lover of big cities, but I find Rome’s vivid mix of ancient history and modern vibrancy totally, completely intoxicating. I am in love with this city, and I will be back!

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