Even in May, the heart of Italy slows you down with an intense heat. Covering all that it can reach, only tunnels built into the ground and indoor stores and restaurants are able to provide momentary respites from the glaring sun. This is actually a blessing in disguise. With your feet moving at a slower pace to combat sun lethargy, your eyes have the opportunity to pour over the sights and wonders of Rome with the care of a fine-toothed comb.
More than a little obsessed with architecture, my eyes couldn’t get enough in Rome. Both the modern and ancient infrastructures fascinated me. From sunny shades and even tiles to elaborate stone carvings and shattered marble, it was all bewitching. My friend patiently waited as time and again I stopped in my tracks to stare, wide-eyed and open-mouthed, at some beautiful detail or enchanting colour. Faces pulled out of hard stone from artists who knew where to look. Light shades that, when caught by the sun, burst in their vibrancy and seemed to collect a piece of the shining star, if just for the moment.
Of our three days in Rome, four sites stand out most prominently in my memories; the Coliseum, Palatine Hill, the Roman Forum, and the Trevi Fountain. Being able to walk through history is always a treat. I find myself taking the time to wonder at the lives of those who had wandered in the same location thousands of years ago. What were their hopes, their dreams? What daily aggravations filled their heads and dominated conversations with peers? Did they admire the beauty of the city, or did they take it for granted?
Even before the busy season, Rome was packed. Tourists and locals alike flooded the streets. All steps were occupied by those taking a respite from the sun. In the Roman Forum, a middle-aged man slept soundly under the shade of a young Stone Pine. If it were not for the many public water fountains dotted throughout the grand city, we would have spent an absolute fortune hydrating ourselves. Thank goodness for thoughtful touches.
Stunning even in ruins, I envied those who had lived when these buildings, arches, and statues were in their original state, carefully painted and displaying none of the effects of time. Difficult to leave, I find myself pouring over the photos from time to time, feeling the dry heat rush over my body and revelling in the cool protection of underground tunnels built centuries ago.